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Mailbag: Who Stood Out at Mini Camp?

Q:  Who stood out the most at mini camp? – Davin Gladstone

A: Two players initially come to mind.  The first is Travis Benjamin, who had some highlight reel plays showcasing his top end speed.  I actually profiled the wideout last week, in which he opened up about how disappointed he was in his 2016 performance and his motivations heading into 2017. The other player is Antonio Gates.  A future Hall of Famer, Gates has a presence about him that is captivating.  This was the first time the rookies got a chance to see him up close after watching him dominate for well over a decade.  It’s always fun to watch them go up to the legend for the first time.   Gates also showed off his trademark hands during individual drills with a nice adjustment we caught on camera.

Q:  Rick - That story on Philip Rivers and his father was powerful stuff. I lost my pops four years ago and it really hit home. Any other personal stories you have of Philip? – Cedric Hamilton

A: Appreciate that, Cedric.  It’s one of my favorite stories I’ve ever had the privilege of writing, so I’m happy it resonated with you.  Philip really is one of a kind.  As far as other personal stories of Philip, here’s one that is personal to me that shows the type of guy he is.   Last offseason, I was chatting with Travis Benjamin in the locker room early during a workout. I noticed he had a rubber wedding ring that he wore on the field.  I had gotten married a few months before, and mentioned how I was looking for something similar for when I work out.  He told me that Philip actually got it for him.  Well, the next day I come into the locker room and Phil calls me over, opens up a bag with a number of rubber wedding rings, asks what size I am, and hands me one.  I’m not sure how he found out I was looking for one, but it shows the type of person he is. Philip has a big heart and goes out of his way to take care of those around him no matter if you are a top wide receiver option on Sunday or simply the guy writing stories for the website.

Q:  How does fifth-round draft pick Desmond King look? – Ron Millard

A:  Quite a few have asked about King the last few weeks, and what we can expect out of the former Jim Thorpe award winner out of Iowa. King has shown flashes of his playmaking ability, which is what you want to see out of a draft pick during his first months in the NFL.  We have to remember these kids were thrown into the mix only a matter of weeks ago, and it is a process to learn a new system and language.   The Bolts are high on his versatility, and his ability to play multiple roles could be huge for the defense. Just listen to what Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley had to say about King during last week’s mini camp:

“Right now we have him playing free (safety) and nickel (corner). So, we’re trying to bring him along at nickel, and get him quite a bit of reps.  Seventy percent of the reps generally in the NFL are in nickel.  So for him, we really want to see (if this is) a spot where he can mature quickly.”

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