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SAN DIEGO – Defensive end Vaughn Martin entered the NFL as an athlete playing football.
A Jamaican that played college football in Canada, Martin has refined his technique for two years, appearing in 20 games. His playing time took an uptick near the end of last season and he recorded his first career sack Week 10 against Denver.
Now entering his third season, Martin has been active the first four days of practice, exploding into the backfield during inside run plays, pressuring quarterbacks during 11-on-11 work and beating his man a few times in 1-on-1 pass rush drills.
Part of his early success can be attributed to facing several young offensive linemen, Head Coach Norv Turner said. But Martin’s athletic frame may also benefit from defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s style.
“I think one of the things we’re going to do is move those guys a little bit more, and he’s very sudden when he moves. He’s very quick,” Turner said. “So I think he’s taking advantage of getting to stunt and getting to move a little bit.
“He’s taking advantage of some of those young offensive linemen. He’s doing real well but he knows it’s not going to be that easy.”
Said Martin: “I’m just eager. Since I’ve been in the league this is the longest I’ve been away from football. I’m a guy who could have benefited from the OTAs. The every-day tutorial. The classroom and on-the-field stuff. Now, if I make mistakes, I make them at full speed.”
VOLEK BACK: The news that Philip Rivers’ long-time backup will return for two more seasons pleased Turner.
Volek has played in just 11 games in five seasons with the Chargers, leading San Diego on a game-winning touchdown drive against Indianapolis in the ’07 Divisional Playoffs. But despite the lack of playing time, he’s a proven, trusted guy at perhaps the most important position in football and knows the offense well.
“It was big getting Billy signed to have the continuity at the position that we’ve had for the last four years,” he said.
IN A GROOVE: Sunday represented the fourth day of training camp practice and the second full-pads practice in as many days.
Still several practices away from the inevitable challenge of fatigue, youth-filled group of players put together a commendable session.
“It’s amazing how guys are starting to get a little bit of a feel for what we’re doing, particularly the young guys,” Turner said. “It’s encouraging to see them picking things up as quickly as they have. And our veteran guys are getting a little bit of the rust off. It was a good, crisp, high-tempo practice.”
EVALUATING: August is here.
The month usually trumpets a cavalcade of preseason predictions and projections. Coaches, though, are focused on analyzing their rosters and preparing for the season, not guessing what their record will be through a certain point in the season.
“We’re going to go practice. We’re going to select our team based on practice and we’re going to select who plays based on performance,” Turner said of the process. “Then we’re going to make decisions about where to put them based on what they do really well.
“That’s why you go out here and practice. Otherwise we’d show up the week before the first game and we’d go play.”
EASING UP: The Chargers signed college free agent fullback Kenny Younger of Virginia Tech on Sunday, continuing a streak of six consecutive days with a roster move. But the rapid pace around the league is throttling down after an unorthodox, frenzied but organized wave of signings. Read