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SAN DIEGO – Jeremy Williams grasped the football with both hands.
The last play of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) doubled as one of the most competitive moments of the offseason thus far, as a three-day end of practice challenge between the offense and defense balanced on one final pass.
The would-be reception elicited cheers, but the football rested in his hands only for an instant before Paul Oliver knocked it to the ground.
Oliver and his teammates, wearing navy jerseys, huddled in celebration while the offense had to run up a steep hill for the second time in three days.
That capped 15 days of practice that started May 18 and included a three-day Mini Camp.
Head Coach Norv Turner gave his team a strong endorsement when the veterans finished their OTAs on Friday and seemed pleased with the work his young players completed this week.
“Each time they (practice), you can see them getting faster and more fluid,” Turner said. “You can see Jyles Tucker, you can see (Antwan) Applewhite, you can see Larry English. They’re so confident in knowing what to do. I’m really excited to watch them in training camp.”
Turner asked the veterans to participate in eight OTAs and the rookies and a handful of other young players to push through 12, two less than the NFL allows.
“I don’t want to wear them out at this time of year,” Turner said. “I think we do enough this time of year to get them ready and our guys have always come back to camp in great shape.”
The time between now and training camp is a valuable asset for players that want to see their families, go on vacation and otherwise rejuvenate their minds and bodies. They’ll get precious few opportunities once camp starts, as it blends into the preseason, the 17-week regular season and the playoffs.
Most players will abstain from working out for a minimal number of days, though, focused on retaining their offseason conditioning.
“What we try to take from (the OTAs) is not so much physical. (It’s) just getting our minds back on football, getting our legs in football shape,” Applewhite said. “That’s basically what we take from it, so that’s what the fans should take from it. It’s just to kind of get our minds ready to play football again in September.”
NAANEE READY: Receiver Legedu Naanee expects to practice with the team during training camp after offseason foot surgery.
Naanee, who still is waiting to be cleared medically, said he’s been running more and feeling comfortable. He plans to report to camp July 25 with the rookies to “knock the rust off a little bit.” The vets are required to check in by July 30.
LATSKO RETURNS: Fullback Billy Latsko returned to the field Thursday following the birth of his daughter, Cameron Lee.
The baby, born Tuesday, weighed 8 pounds, 8.5 ounces.
“It was awesome,” Latsko said. “A life-changer.”
GAME 7 PREDICTION: Applewhite, a Lakers fan, shocked no one with his pick for tonight’s deciding game of the NBA Finals.
Boston, he said, should’ve put Los Angeles away in Game 6.
“It’s dangerous that they let it get to Game 7, because we’re gonna take this one,” he said. “I don’t think Perkins is playing. They don’t have a lot of big men after that, so our height is going to make it almost impossible.”
GETTING READY: Josh Reed did not put on a jersey, but the receiver got plenty of work.
He caught passes from Philip Rivers before practice, and then joined his position mates during the individual period, tracking down more footballs from Jonathan Crompton.
Then he ran on a side field under supervision from Strength and Conditioning Coach Jeff Hurd.
BOLTS: Dante Hughes ended the offenses’ two-minute drill on the third play, breaking inside on a pass intended for Williams for an interception. Turner took a moment to let the offense know the opponent would’ve run out the clock if it were an actual game … Traye Simmons contested several incomplete passes and deflected one, but Seyi Ajirotutu made the catch of the day against Simmons near the right sideline. The play might have been reviewed during a game because his feet were close to the boundary … Williams caught one of the few deep balls during Thursday’s practice, then ended the two-minute drill with a reception in the end zone.
PRACTICE WEATHER: 65 degrees, sunny Read