The 2017 season began in earnest Sunday morning, but Philip Rivers' exuberance was in mid-season form.
After all, it doesn't take much to fire up number 17.
So, you can imagine how the quarterback reacted to more than 5,000 screaming Chargers fans cheering on the team during their first practice of training camp.
"(This is) really better than I anticipated," he said. "Not that I didn't have high hopes or (excitement) about the fan base that's here, and really all over Southern California, (but) I didn't anticipate this! My rookie year, granted we were coming off a bad season, but we were in Carson. I was only there for one day of camp, but literally I think there were 12 people there. I'm serious. Literally, you could count 12 bodies there. So I wasn't sure, but there was a lot of excitement (here). And I think, too, we have a lot of guys to be excited about."
Rivers admitted to having more nerves than usual entering this year's training camp. While he always gets butterflies heading into the first day, he explained how the unknown weighed on him this season.
"I'm always a little nervous going into the first day of training camp. I have been for every year now. But there was a little added nervousness for this one just because of the unknown. What was the turnout going to be? The practice fields? The whole set up? You just weren't sure. But everybody's excited, and we're very appreciative for how we've been welcomed here. We're fired up about continuing to earn that trust and respect (as) a team everyone wants to pull for."
It's a team Rivers believes capable of turning heads as well. Yes, there's a long way to go, but as he looks up and down the roster, the future Hall of Famer sees a squad capable of a special season.
"We have the talent," he bluntly said. "You don't look around and go, 'Gosh, we're missing this. If we had one of that. We really need this. We're almost there.' I think you look at it, and that doesn't mean I'm predicting us to win it all, but we have the talent. Now, it's building the camaraderie, the toughness and the fight. All of those things, the togetherness and intangibles, and obviously you have to play well. But I don't walk out here and go, 'Gosh, we're going to fight like crazy, but we don't quite have enough.' I think we have the pieces. Now, it's a matter of a lot of things that have to fall your way, and that you have to earn."
Training camp is arguably the most important time of the year. It's where an identity is forged to accomplish the goals Rivers believes to be within reach.
After a decade of the same old routine, Rivers explained how he's embracing the benefits of change.
"It's tough, especially when you are further away from home (and your family), but I'm trying to just embrace it as that. This is the time to build camaraderie with the guys. (Now I can) sit and be around the guys more than I would. When I had a two-and-a-half-hour break (in the past) I'd usually shoot home. Here, I (have) two-and-a-half-hours more to get to know these guys. Shoot, some of these guys were in grade school and middle school when I was playing here! So, it's good to be around them, get to know them and see what makes them tick. How we can come together and make this a special year."