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Rookies Eager to Make Their Mark
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A year ago they were preparing for their final collegiate season, hoping to end it on a high-note by winning a bowl game.
Now they are professional players in the National Football League looking to make an immediate impact for the San Diego Chargers.
“It’s a blessing,” said versatile first-round pick Melvin Ingram following the team’s first practice. “Just the opportunity after dreaming of this as a kid, and now finally getting the opportunity, it’s just a blessing.”
Training camp is officially underway as rookies kicked off the season with a lively practice this afternoon at Chargers Park. The session started off with each unit working out individually before the offense and defense squared off in a series of non-contact drills.
“These few days we are dealing with our young guys,” said head coach Norv Turner. “I really think it’s critical for them to give them an opportunity and get them into the swing of things before our veterans get here. It was a nice start for the young guys.”
While they have spent most of their lives on the gridiron, the players relish the chance to get some work in before the whole team hits the field together on Thursday.
“This is an opportunity that we get early to get our feet wet and get back into things,” said Kendall Reyes, the team’s second-round draft pick out of Connecticut. “The vets, they’ve been doing it for a while and they fully understand what’s going on. So it’s just good to get in early and get our feet wet before everything really gets into play.”
The rookies don’t have the luxury of easing into the swing of things. Once the veterans report, they are expected to hit the ground running, and today they got a taste of how different the game is at this level as quarterback Philip Rivers stood under center for the two-hour practice.
“It’s a whole lot different,” said safety Brandon Taylor, San Diego’s third-round draft choice. “You have Philip throwing the ball back there, and knowing that he can throw the ball in tight spots and control the offense makes it a lot harder. He knows what the defense is doing out there a lot of times, and it’s a shock. But you’ve got to overcome that and be on point. It makes you a better player.”
Conversely, those on offense saw their level of play rise with one of the league’s best throwing them the ball.
“It’s like a reality check to have him back there,” said fourth-round pick, tight end Ladarius Green. “You see him all the time on TV growing up, but you can’t be fazed. He expects a lot out of you so you’ve got to step to the plate.”
As much as it is a dream come true, the rookies know now is not the time to get complacent. They aren’t satisfied to simply make it to the NFL; they want to produce and make an impact.
“It’s not enough just to be here,” said Taylor, summing up the sentiments of his fellow rookies. “It felt good to be flying around out there making plays, and I’ve got to keep grinding and keep working to get those opportunities and make the most out of them.”
• In addition to Rivers, a select number of veterans joined the rookies on the field, including Charlie Whitehurst, Jackie Battle, Roscoe Parrish, Larry English and Jonas Mouton
• Parrish served as the punt returner during special teams drills
• The team spent a large portion of time working on their third-and –intermediate sets (three, four and five yards).
• Follow hashtag #sdtc12 on twitter for exclusive photos and information during each training camp practice. Read