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A Lot at Stake During Joint Practice with Cardinals

Each day in Chargers Camp, Jason Verrett is tasked with trying to lock up Keenan Allen.

Tonight, he'll face off against future Hall-of-Famer Larry Fitzgerald.

Likewise, while Allen has tried to shake free from number 22, he'll now match wits the another Pro Bowler in Patrick Peterson.

For the first time in the Tom Telesco/Mike McCoy era, the San Diego Chargers will hold joint practices against another team in the Arizona Cardinals.  It marks the first time the Bolts share a practice field since hosting the Dallas Cowboys in 2012.

"This is good for our matchups to see different guys and line up against different formations," added Defensive Coordinator John Pagano.  "I want to see how our guys react.  I think that's most important."

The reasoning behind the joint sessions is simple according to the general manager and the benefits can be substantial.  Going up against another team can further help players' cases to make the roster and earn playing time, or it may highlight weaknesses that must be shored up.

"You get a chance to evaluate your players against a different scheme and a different roster that has its own strength and weaknesses," Telesco said.  "For us, and I imagined Arizona as well, it's great to get into a different environment.  Training camp is a monotony that goes on day after day after day after day.  So now we get a chance to go to the stadium tonight and play a team in a controlled situation.  It's great for our football team.  It keeps our players on their toes, and that's what the game is all about as we saw in Tennessee.  They are going against players in one-on-one matchups that they don't know.  During the regular season you'd have a chance to study against players you are going against, and they don't have that ability in training camp.  But it is a great part of the learning curve to go against players with strengths and weaknesses you may not know."

It's only natural for the physical nature of the game to pick up when playing against someone other than your teammates.  Both teams have been instructed to play at a higher speed, but keep their tempers in check.

"It'll be like two mini games," McCoy said. "We're not going to be at the same tempo [as during a game], it's not live, but we'll play fast.  The challenge for the rest of the year is trying to get better every day."  

The decision to join forces on the practice field before squaring off in a preseason game on Friday has been a long time coming as the teams have held discussions for quite some time.

"When Bruce Arians, Steve Keim and we first sat down, it was all about trying to get better as teams," McCoy explained. "There are certain things we're going to talk to our players about how we're practicing, why we're doing it, and Bruce will say the same thing to his team.  It's another way to go against a really good team for a couple days, not just in a game but in two good days of work.  The entire team is going to play against some good competition on a daily basis.  I think the competition of our practices has been outstanding, but it's at the certain point of camp where you get sick on playing against one another.  It'll be a great test for our team against a very good team."

It's also a test the players are looking forward to passing.

"It's going to be fun and entertaining," Melvin Gordon said.  "Everyone knows about the Arizona Cardinals and how they prepare and get ready.  They're a great team.  I'm just excited because it's always good when you have another team come in and help you develop."

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