Heading into his 14th NFL season, you'd think Philip Rivers wouldn't have an anxious feeling stepping out onto the practice field for the first time since last season.
"For me, the first time back on the field in the offseason (I still get) those butterflies," Rivers said. "It may sound crazy, but it's the biggest break you have from the last game until almost four months (since) we've been out here. I think it's a good thing. I think when you lose that, you'll know something is wrong."
Tuesday kicked off the first day of voluntary veteran mini camp for the Chargers. It was also the first time the offense and defense got to go up against each other. With day one in the books, number 17 was pleased with the overall vibe of the practice.
"It was good to be out there. We're not at full strength yet, but I thought the energy was good. We competed well and it was a good first day…. When we get out there, I think I can speak for all the guys that that's where we all feel at home…. Everybody feels good after the first day, but I really do feel like the energy, hunger (and) want-to is there, which it's going to take to get back to doing what we want to get done."
Rivers said the biggest benefit to having an additional mini camp like this week's is the reps. These three days are crucial to the Bolts' veterans building camaraderie not only with the new coaching staff, but with each other.
One player in particular Rivers is looking to get closer to this week is left tackle Russell Okung. Tuesday was the first day the pair linked up this offseason since number 76 was signed in March.
"It's early, but at least from my experience with those left tackles like him, they want to know where you are on your drops…. From him getting the timing of my cadence to the way I call plays (and) the way I make checks, it's a communication without him and I directly talking. It's just being around one another more. And I think like any, you want to know those guys up front and be around them. He's a guy you want to earn respect. I know I've played a long time but he hasn't been on the team with us and vice versa. He knows I'm going to fight like crazy for him and all those guys up front, and you want that in return from them."
While Rivers was pleased with the current roster, he knows the end of the week will bring a bevy of new Bolts to the team. If this year's draft goes like 2016's, Rivers is optimistic those new pieces can help take the Chargers to the next level.
"I know we're picking high again which is good and bad. Bad because it means we didn't have a very good year the year before. But good because it's a chance to get a game-changing, impact player. We certainly did that last year with Joey (Bosa). Hopefully we do the same this year. Not only with just that pick, but with the whole draft. You saw Hunter Henry's contributions last year (and) Jatavis Brown. I know I'm leaving guys out but those two jumped to mind second and a little bit of a later pick. The whole draft is important. There aren't a whole lot of missing pieces here from us having a chance to do something great. So hopefully we get those and we turn into the team we want to be."
The Los Angeles Chargers kicked off day one of a voluntary veteran mini camp on Tuesday.