After three weeks of OTAs, the final part of the Chargers' offseason before the pre-training camp break kicked off on Tuesday: Mandatory mini camp.
These three days give the veterans and rookies a chance to continue their work both in the classroom and on the field.
With players like Melvin Ingram back at work, Head Coach Anthony Lynn mentioned his goal for his team this week. These next couple days are the team's final opportunities, before training camp, to strengthen the camaraderie that has been cultivated since Lynn started his first day as head coach.
"(We want to) just continue our communication, continue learning our system, and just learning (about) one another," Head Coach Anthony Lynn said. "I think that's important for team chemistry when you get to training camp, because you just don't have time to stop and do those things."
Entering his 15th season, Antonio Gates knows a thing or two about the types of bonds that get forged during this period of the offseason. But with that said, he hasn't let his seniority lead to complacency. In fact, stepping out onto the field for mini camp on Tuesday brought back a familiar feeling: butterflies.
"I walked in today and the feeling hasn't changed," Gates said. "I think the nervousness is always there. It's my first day back, and I've been removed for some personal reasons. I think sometimes when you're nervous, it's a good nervousness. I was nervous going in. I was nervous to go on the field. I was nervous to catch the first pass. I think as long as you have that, you have a chance. I think it's a good thing; a good sign."
While many players likely have the same feelings as Gates, it's expected if you're a rookie. But for two of the newest Chargers, today gave them a chance at reps with the first team. Second round draft pick Forrest Lamp was slotted at right guard while Dan Feeney took reps at center. This was the newest wrinkle to a unit that has undergone many formation changes this offseason thus far.
"We're just looking at different combinations," Lynn said. "Those four linemen…we're playing around with them. We don't want those guys to be jack of all trades; masters of nothing…. You're seeing the communication. You're seeing them play faster. Being a little more aggressive, because they understand the techniques that we're teaching them and what we're trying to do."
That communication that Lynn alluded to has proved to Philip Rivers that these guys were drafted at their respective spots for a reason.
"I've seen of them in college and where they got drafted and what they've done out here; it's not too big for them," Rivers said. "They jumped right in, jumped right into that huddle today and there wasn't a different look on their faces. It was, 'Let's go.' Again, I'm not saying they've got it all figured out yet – I think they'd be the first to tell you they have a lot of work to do – but they both have a good look to them, as far as in and out of the huddle and the things they're doing once the ball is snapped. They're young, smart, strong guys. They're strong in that weight room, and guys that really love to play. Like I've always said, the more guys you get that love to play, you get 53 to love it, and then you get a chance."
The Los Angeles Chargers take the field to kick off mini camp.