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Football-related drills begin
SAN DIEGO – Takeo Spikes spent the early offseason working out in Atlanta, a tradition he began before Cincinnati drafted him in 1998.
Players like Ray Lewis and Shannon Sharpe have been part of the Georgia workout group.
The old-school boot camp portion of his offseason now finished, Spikes flew to San Diego continue preparing for his 15th NFL season. He attended organized offseason conditioning Monday as he and the Chargers moved into Phase II, participating in fundamental drills on the field under the watch of the coaches for the first time since preparing for the Jan. 1 season finale against Oakland.
As defined by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Phase II represents weeks three and four of an allowed four-week program leading up to OTAs (Organized Team Activities). It also marked the first organized football-related on-field work of 2012.
“Phase II is really (about) the details of the game. Run fits,” Spikes said. “For offensive linemen, it’s taking the proper steps as far as blocking engagement.
“Sometimes when you get caught up into the situation of, ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!’ (during training camp), you forget the details of things. And we all know everything starts with fundamentals.”
Running backs and fullbacks worked on pass protection. Offensive lineman practiced footwork and hand placement. Receivers ran routes. Players wore shorts and T-shirts and the intensity did not approach what it will be once training camp begins in July, but Monday’s workout resembled a real football practice.
“It’s fun just being able to hear the full plays again and how Philip (Rivers) says it in the huddle and everybody doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Ryan Mathews said.
“It’s getting used to the timing of the routes and where you’re supposed to be, and just working on the little things, fundamental things like footwork, timing and stuff like that. It’s just fun to be out here and start to get going again.”
Antwan Barnes, who led the team with 11 sacks last year, participated in his first football-related offseason practice as a Charger. He signed with the team mid-season in 2010, and labor talks negated last year’s offseason program.
“For me, I’m happy to be here finally in the offseason,” Barnes said. The past couple years I wasn’t, but now I get a chance to get here in the offseason and have most of the guys here.”
Said Rivers: “It’s little by little, one day at a time, and build to be ready for the opener in September. We’ve got more new faces than we’ve had here in a while. Everybody’s got the right mindset and we’re focused one day at a time.”