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Turner stays positive
SAN DIEGO – Offseason conditioning would be taking place at Chargers Park this week during a normal year.
Instead, the coaching staff is free to focus on adding its resources to the pre-draft process and partake in a more extensive self-evaluation.
Head Coach Norv Turner’s overall outlook on the Chargers could be described as glass half-full.
“We had disappointments last year that we haven’t had the first three years that I was here, but I couldn’t be more excited about our football team and our football players. We have some guys that are truly committed to going and winning a championship,” Turner told fans at a recent charity event.
As with everyone in the organization, San Diego’s eight selections in the April 28-30 draft are a source of anticipation for Turner. The unanticipated time to seek improvement and implement corrections also is a positive.
“We’re going to be able to add some young, exciting guys to the nucleus we already have,” Turner said. “We have a little more time right now so we’re getting ready to tweak things that we’ve done, to get better in areas that we need to get better and to really refine some things that we feel we can do better.”
Turner said he delights in guys that find success in the NFL despite an outside perception that they don’t have the ability to compete at the highest level. He cited several players, including guard Kris Dielman, who came out of Indiana as a defensive lineman.
“When they moved him to offense, people thought, ‘Well this guy will be a backup player.’ He just went to his third Pro Bowl in a row,” Turner said, also mentioning Jeromey Clary, Jacques Cesaire and Steve Gregory. “These are some names that you don’t hear all the time but they’re guys that to me are truly, truly special because they are guys that are maximizing their ability. I think our players appreciate that and understand that.”
Turner’s impressive football lineage includes John Robinson, head coach at USC, Oregon and the Los Angeles Rams. Robinson took pride in helping individuals maximize their potential, something Turner tries to emulate.
“(But) when we get to this level it’s about winning. That’s what we’re all about, going to win a championship,” Turner said. “You’re not going to do that unless you have an elite, championship-type quarterback. In Philip Rivers, certainly that’s what we have. He is a committed guy. He’s committed to winning a championship. He’s committed to being the best player he can.”
Turner cited a recent Chargers.com story that detailed Rivers’ effort to make a speaking engagement in Phoenix when his flight plans became questionable, causing him to make a 700-mile roundtrip drive to uphold a commitment.
“That’s the way he approaches everything we do and it rubs off on our guys and it rubs off on everyone around our organization,” Turner said. “With that type of guy I feel very good about our chances to grow and become a Super Bowl team.”
GATES SECOND: A recent ESPN.com poll of eight experts ranks Antonio Gates as the second-best tight end in the NFL.
Gates got four first-place votes and finished with 75 points, one behind Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys. Indianapolis tight end Dallas Clark finished third with 53 points.
The biggest detriment for Gates was missing six games and finishing an otherwise remarkable season on Reserve-Injured. He still managed to catch 50 passes, 10 of which resulted in touchdowns.
RIVERS ADVANCES: For the first time ever, fans will determine the cover subject of the popular football video game Madden 2012.
Rivers, a No. 1 seed in the bracket-style contest, got 67 percent of the vote in the first round to eliminate Oakland running back Darren McFadden.
Rivers faces Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson this week. The winner will advance to the quarterfinals.