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San Diego Chargers Training Camp Transcripts

Posted Jul 26, 2012

Head Coach Norv Turner, Philip Rivers, Eric Weddle and Antonio Gates

 Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner:

On the first full-squad walk-though of training camp:

“I have a better feeling of continuity with this group than I have felt over the last three years.  We had a lot of things that were distractions and could be distractions a couple years ago. Key players were holding out, there was the lockout, and players were leaving whether it be in retirement or moving onto another team such as [Darren] Sproles and [Kevin] Burnett.  When I go out and work with these guys they have a real strong presence. The veteran guys who know what it is about to prepare and get ready such as [Le’Ron] McClain, [Ronnie] Brown, [Atari] Bigby.  We had our first walk-thru today and we will have shorts and shoulder pads today and tomorrow, and full pads on Saturday. This is an exciting group of men who have a chance to become an outstanding football team.”

On how running back Ryan Mathews has grown:

“People don’t understand the process involved in becoming an NFL player. Ryan [Mathews] was a younger player drafted out of college.  He came out of college early, but the impressive thing is every time he has had adversity or an obstacle to overcome, he has overcome and has gotten better each step of the way the last two years.  I am like every other Chargers fan out there and would like to see him do it from day one, but that is not realistic in this league.  Ryan [Mathews] has come a long ways and is excited about this year and I am excited to see him go.”

On how the veteran free agents have made an impact on the field:

“Most of them are trying to learn the system so they are not really vocal right now. But as I mentioned, there is a work ethic and an understanding on how to prepare. If there is a young guy that was drafted or a young free agent that is sitting next to one of those guys in the meeting room like [Eddie] Royal, he understands that this guy knows how to prepare, and if I do like him, I will have an opportunity to be like him someday.”

On the competition between the 90 players out on the field:

“It is going to be exciting. We keep 53 players and eight on the practice squad. We have 90 here and they all want to be a part of this team.  Our goal as the coaching staff is to do everything we can to pick the 53 guys that make this the best football team. If any guy can contribute to this team at a high level, then we have to consider him.”

Quarterback Philip Rivers:

On the level of competition this year compared to previous years:

“It’s always been a competitive camp and I think the guys enjoy going against one another, but I think this will be the most competitive camp we’ve had since I’ve been here. There are a lot of good football players 1-90 and there are a lot of guys competing. That’s what will help make us the best team. The guys that end up here at the end of the camp that form the roster at week one, they’re going to be a heck of a group, and we’re due to have a lot of great players and great competition.”

On his chemistry with the new group of wide receivers and tight ends:

“I really think we got a lot of that established during the nine weeks of offseason, but certainly it has to continue to grow. It’s one thing to get timing and do things here in shorts and helmets when you know you’ve got two months to work, but we’re fixing to go have to play a game two weeks from today. That takes it to a new level and we’re on track so far. “

On if he has any particular goals for this season:

“Not necessarily, not any that I’d share. Just individually to improve every day and do what it takes to help us win. That’s always the goal, but I haven’t done that well enough the last two years because we’ve been out of the postseason. So I’m going to take that upon myself to do my part to help us win.”

On the team’s group of wide receivers this year:

“It’s a really good group and there’s a lot of competition there. I’ve got in quite a bit of work with every guy, so I have a great deal of confidence in whoever is in there. That’s a huge positive, the depth that we have, because whoever’s in the game, we don’t have to scale back or change things, we just go.”

On if the team has any secret weapons this year:

“I don’t think so, they all have a jersey number and a name on their back, so if you’re watching, you’ll see them.”

On the AFC West:

“I think [the division] is going to get a lot more attention and probably be more in the news than in past years. Obviously when one of the best quarterbacks to ever play comes to the division that sparks a little attention and I think every team is going to be better. So what has been looked at on the outside as a weak division is probably going to draw a little more attention. We know what we’re in for, and we haven’t won the division in two years. Regardless of what changes have been made in the division, we have to take care of us, and that starts right now.”

On if he feels any added pressure this season after his numbers last season:

“No, I don’t. I don’t really try to use the word pressure, instead I feel a sense of responsibility and a sense of urgency to help us win. I really don’t care so much about the numbers. The only number I think is detrimental to winning and losing is turnovers, which was a lot higher than normal. That particular number obviously has got to come down, but from a pressure standpoint, I’ve always felt a great deal of urgency and responsibility to play well and to help us win. I don’t feel any added pressure from any other year.”

Safety Eric Weddle:

On his offseason:

“I got to rest up and re-energize. It is exciting to be back with the teammates. We all have high hopes and this is what we work for in the off season, to get here to this moment.”

On learning the faces of new players:

“I want to get to know them (new players) and become friends and build that trust that bonds you out on the field. It is a really tight-knit group, the most it’s ever been, so it’s enjoyable to come out here and work every day and push each other in every facet.”

On the veterans:

“When you bring in guys who have played, there is maturity, sense of urgency and a sense of pride.  They all come from different teams and now they are here and they all want to win and prove that they are great players in this league. Each guy can help mold this team into what we want to become.”

On the defense:

“I think we are going to have a great defense this year. We are all healthy for once, the front seven and outside backers specifically.  We brought in Jarret Johnson, an unbelievable defensive player. He will free up plays and get pressure, which will allow Shaun [Phillips] to play his position so he’s not moving back and forth. We got Melvin [Ingram], a beast in himself and Larry [English], who is one of our best pass rushers when he’s healthy. I am excited to see those guys play together and get after the quarterbacks as one, with no egos in that group. [Quentin] Jammer and [Antoine] Cason are great corners and with [Atari] Bigby coming in it’s a great complement to me. I expect us to be a great defense, improve on third downs and red zones, which we were horrible in last year.  But that was last year, this is a new year and we are going to work and play and have fun.”

On the upcoming season:

“I have to go out and prove myself to be a great player and lead this defense. If I don’t play well, I may not be here. My goal is to earn the starting spot and that’s what everyone’s thinking.  We are out here to prove ourselves, and what we did last year obviously was not good enough.  I could have played better. We all could have played better.  In the end, it’s about winning enough games to make the playoffs and win our division. That has been are drive and focus, to get back there and be a great team and play for each other. “

Tight End Antonio Gates:

On undrafted free agents:

“I definitely have a warm place in my heart for the undrafted free agents just because I know what it takes. I’ve been familiar with how hard it is to come in as an undrafted free agent and being unproven, being in a situation where you have to prove yourself every single day. Hopefully with all of that you still need a little luck to make an NFL team. So I just try and give them my advice. I always talk about how important it is to play a role in special teams because that was one of my significant roles at the time, and hopefully they get a chance to make this team.”

On the competition level at the tight end position:

“It’s probably the fastest tight end group that I’ve been around. It keeps you humble as a starter. It keeps you prepared knowing that you bring guys in that can run and make plays in the passing game. For me it’s just taking it one day at a time, but yet setting an example because I’m the guy who starts games, and I want to be able to say look, we go out and play together as a tight end group, we represent the San Diego Chargers.”

On the overall look of the offense:

“This first walk-thru practice. It’s just giving us a chance to feel this cohesiveness that we need to win a championship. “

On how it feels to be healthy at the beginning of Training Camp:

“It feels good to just go out and run the first day of training camp. Words can’t really describe how it feels because I’ve just been battling injuries for the past two or three years. Not being able to have a true conditioning in the offseason, sometimes hinders you because it takes longer for you to get going and it takes longer for you to get in shape because you don’t have the amount of days and the amount of reps that the rest of the guys have.”

On his new training regimen and lighter weight:

“I feel that as you get older, you still want to play at a high level, you try and find weaknesses in your game every single offseason. When I go back and look at the tape in the past, and how I’ve been able to run and jump, I want to get back to that. Despite getting healthy, which was my number one concern, I felt that it was imperative that I lose weight for me to accomplish those goals that I have in mind this year.”

On teaching younger players:

“My motto is, ‘you create your habits and your habits create you,’ and I think that’s what I’m about and I try to implement that in the younger guys.”

On how this year’s team has changed:

“I can say this: there’s definitely been a change. You definitely see a sense of urgency. And when you look at each position, you have a handful of guys that can make plays, and I think that’s also different from the past. What that does is make the guy who’s considered the number one guy stay on top of his game, stay committed, and that holds everybody accountable. You know as well as I know there are times when guys can get complacent because they’re in a situation where they have a big contract, or they have a big signing bonus coming up, and this team has definitely gotten rid of all the prima donnas. You got to go out and work hard every day and prove that you deserve to be a San Diego Charger.”

On other tight ends in the NFL:

“The traditional tight end is kind of out the window now. You look, and every team has a guy that can make a play at the tight end position, and I think it speaks volumes for guys like Shannon Sharpe and guys like Kellen Winslow Sr. who have actually paved the way for guys like myself. I think now that defensive coordinators are starting to notice that the tight end position is a valuable position in any offense.”

 

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