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Evaluating the Wide Receivers with WR Coach Fred Graves
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Over the coming weeks, we’ll be checking in with the Chargers’ position coaches to get the inside scoop about the Bolts. We now turn our attention to WR Coach Fred Graves to get his thoughts on the wide receivers.
Chargers.com: What are your overall impressions of the wide receivers at this point of the offseason?
Graves: The guys we have right now I think fit what we want to do offensively. We’ve become more physical. When you look at who we have, there is some experience there, but there are also some young guys that are coming up.
Graves: We’ve got height and size, but also more speed than people really think we do. The good thing is everybody gets along. There are no egos here. I don’t have one diva in that room. Guys come to work, learn and help each other out. It kind of makes my job easier. So what I’m trying to do is see who fits where. Right now it is real early in the spring, so we are teaching each guy every position instead of teaching them just one and keeping them there. Everybody is going to learn each position.
Chargers.com: How unique is this group in how much versatility they have to play multiple positions?
Graves: Right now if you asked me who will play what, I don’t know. All I know is that I could tell one guy to go to X or Z or F and it doesn’t matter. They can each do it. They’ve been there and learn what’s going on. For us, that is what makes our system good. Our quarterback doesn’t have to sit there and go, “Well, he is always going to be X and he is always going to be Z”. All of our guys, every one of them, know the system. I learned years ago how that is how you win championships. If somebody gets hurt, you don’t have just a week to prepare him. He’s already been preparing himself. So it gives us an opportunity to add a lot of guys to a lot of positions. This particular group is a little bit more unique because mentally the guys understand what we’re trying to get done. That helps Philip (Rivers) out. Our guys understand what their roles are, which is why we say we have no divas.
Graves: He brings physicality. People don’t realize he is as physical as he is. But he is exceptionally quick, is smart about what he does and understands how to read coverages. He also has very good hands. I like the things that he’s doing now. He’s trying to fit in and do things the right way.
Graves: He gives us another guy who can go deep. Last year we had Malcom Floyd, but now we have two guys like that. We can put them on either side, and he is another physical guy, but obviously his run after the catch ability is the big thing.
Chargers.com: After seeing how much Keenan Allen has developed over two years, what are you looking for out of him in his third season?
Graves: Really talking to Keenan it is about him being consistent. He understands what his role is and how to play it. Like any young player for a while there he was frustrated about a couple things. But we did a good job of sitting down and looking at certain DBs, and he realized what he has to do against certain DBs and coverages with specific teams. I think he has really accepted his role. He knows what he has to do, and what we are going to do with him.
Graves: Oh yeah, it’s impressive. He’s a smart guy. He is one of those guys where you always have to give him something else because he picks things up so quickly. In a lot of years I’ve been coaching, he is (rare) in how he understands things. You can change things without frustrating him.
Chargers.com: Malcom Floyd means so much to this city and the fans, but what does he mean to this team not just as a player but as a person?
Graves: Everybody looks up to him. Everybody looks at him and says, well, he is in his mid-30’s, but Malcom can still run. There are not many guys in this league who average 17 yards per catch, so he still has gas in the tank. He loves the game, and he was very successful coming off the injury last year. This year he wants to do the same.
Graves: He continues to get better as a player. He understands how to be a professional. When you watch him out on the field after practice, he is probably the last guy out there. He is working on everything. So when at the end of the season you see what he did against San Francisco, those are all the things he’d been working on.
Graves: I think Austin is going to fit in well. He’ll have his role. It is early, but he is learning and is a quick learner. We’re trying to put him at two or three positions, and he’s got some quickness. He is another guy like Stevie where you may not think he is that physical, but he is a physical guy. It’s going to be interesting.
Chargers.com: There is going to be some great competition at your group. We also have Javontee Herndon and Torrence Allen who spent all of last year on the practice squad, but I want to know what you see in the three undrafted wideouts the team signed over the weekend.
Graves: It’s kind of surprising they were available. Titus Davis out of Central Michigan is a kid we had in on a visit, and I thought he was going to get drafted. You know how the draft is, so I don’t know why he didn’t. He’s got good athletic skills. He can jump and go after the ball. He’s got good hands. The young man out of Western Oregon, Tyrell Williams, is kind of a freak of nature. He has good height and his athleticism is unbelievable. He’s got natural football skills for a guy who hasn’t played a lot of football. And then Demetrius Wilson coming out of Arkansas comes from a school where they haven’t thrown it like they did before, but he’ll make some plays. It will be interesting to see what he can do here, too.
Chargers.com: Finally, what does the rest of the offseason look like for you before training camp at the end of July?
Graves: It is just working on the little things. We’ll sit there and look at all of our routes and make sure that we get the guys to have the same understanding. That way when Philip is out there, it doesn’t matter if it is Keenan or Malcom or Stevie or whoever it is, he’ll know where they will be.