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SAN DIEGO – Like a set of keys to a sprawling La Jolla estate filled with locked rooms, offseason repetitions offer an entry point during the voluntary workouts that precede training camp.
The more you have, the more rooms you can access, and there’s plenty of real estate to get acquainted with, even for the familiar: Timing and technique. Assignments and footwork.
Now’s the time to iron them out as much as possible, before pads become a staple and contact introduces chaos.
Pre-training camp practice occurs in a relative vacuum, with contact prohibited and nearly enough players to supply the roster for all four teams in the NBA Conference Finals twice.
Many players vying for roles want to parlay that environment into organic, fundamental improvement that will show up once real football begins.
If that hillside mansion houses San Diego’s tight ends, Antonio Gates, preparing to follow one of the best seasons at his position in NFL history, deserves the master bedroom with the private oceanside balcony.
But with Gates looking to squash minor foot soreness before it can become an issue, there’s a few more rooms left vacant.
Kris Wilson and a trio of rookies are enjoying the space.
“Whenever you have a situation where all the guys at your position aren’t going, there’s two ways you could look at it,” Wilson said. “You could look at it as, ‘Oh, man, I’ve got more work to do,’ or you could look at it as an opportunity to get better.”
Wilson made one of the best catches of Mini Camp on Thursday, reaching around face-guarding linebacker Stephen Cooper to snare a Philip Rivers pass behind No. 54’s helmet.
“I really like the way he’s worked and the things he’s gotten done, really, since he’s been here,” Head Coach Norv Turner said of Wilson.
Entering his third season with the Chargers, he said he feels much more comfortable within the offense this year.
Rookie free agent Richie Brockel practiced with the first offense at times during Mini Camp, as did seventh-round draft pick Dedrick Epps.
Asked about their development, Turner said they’re tasked with a lot of responsibilities within the Chargers’ offense that will take time to learn.
“The offense is more complex here. In college I did a lot, but they want more at this level,” said Epps, who lined up in the backfield, outside the tackle and split wide at the University of Miami. “It’s a load, but you just want to take it in and learn as much as you can on the fly. You just have to make the adjustment and roll with it.” Read