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One Victory at a Time is Focus of Smith
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The Chargers faced a daunting task entering the unfriendly confines of the O.Co Coliseum on opening night in front of 63,000 raucous fans.
While it would have been easy to fold in the face of such adversity, the Chargers showed the kind of resolve and fortitude that General Manager A.J. Smith hoped they would when he assembled this team over a long, grueling offseason. His fingerprints were all over the victory, from first-round draft pick Melvin Ingram’s forced fumble in the first quarter to a crucial 46-yard reception from highly-touted free agent acquisition Robert Meachem. Even Smith’s lesser heralded additions played a key role, including a standout game from undrafted free agent Mike Harris at left tackle and a tide-turning blocked punt by Dante Rosario, another under-the-radar pick up.
“You build your team in the offseason and adjust it in season,” Smith said while sitting in his office at Chargers Park. “Our team has been built for 2012, and we believe layered with some outstanding backup players. Our goal is to get better each week and grow as a team. Our division is going to be very challenging. We expect it to be very competitive and very physical as always. We are excited about the new year and look forward to the challenge. The season is underway now, and we will give it everything we have.”
The Chargers certainly did that on Monday night, earning a win in one of the toughest stadiums to play in in the entire NFL.
“Winning in this league is a hard thing to do,” said Smith. “When you get one you treasure it. We need to find ways to win games and win a lot of them.”
For the most part, that job lands squarely on Norv Turner, who ranks 33rd in league history with 112 victories. So far, Smith likes what he’s seen from the head coach who has put in a ton of work to get the Bolts ready for the 2012 campaign.
“Coach Turner and his staff have worked extremely hard in preparing for the season,” he said. “Our players have been very focused, starting all the way back to the offseason program. We have a lot of new players, and the blend that I have seen early on has been very impressive.”
As much as Smith and the Chargers would like to revel in the important divisional victory they just posted, the time for celebration is over. Now the focus is solely on this Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.
“We just got our first win against a bitter rival in a very hostile place,” said Smith. “Our focus right now is to get our second win. We are excited to be home this week against the Titans, and our goal is to win the game this week for us and our fans who have been waiting a very long time for the season to begin.”