Training Camp Report: San Diego Chargers

By Jay Floyd
August 16, 2011 11:59 pm
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 Training Camp Report: San Diego Chargers

The Chargers finished up camp Tuesday and Norv Turner canceled practice for Wednesday as part of his plan to rest the team all along. The team travels to Dallas on Thursday to scrimmage against the Cowboys prior to their Preseason Week Two matchup Sunday night. Both teams have been careful to say scrimmages will be light contact, with no tackling to the ground.
 
But don’t ask the players.

The Tolbert Report

It’s not satire, it’s not parody: Mike Tolbert is for real. The 5-foot-9, Georgia-born, Georgia-bred running back is a tank with feet. He hasn’t shown the burst of Maurice Jones-Drew but their physique is the same. Both are short and stocky, with legs like tree trunks and shoulders like jackhammers. But don’t let his size or power deceive you—Tolbert has great hands and nifty moves. He made a fantastic shoestring catch, followed by a dive into the endzone for a touchdown (and celebration dance) last week against Seattle.

Recently, Marty Caswell of XX 1090 Sports Radio in San Diego asked Tolbert about his tendency to go through obstacles instead of around them.

“Anybody that’s in the way, I try to make them feel it. I try to take it easy on my teammates but sometimes I can’t help it.”
 
Does he plan to run through Ryan Mathews? Does he want to be the starter?
 
“Obviously, being a competitor, you want to be THE guy, the #1 guy, but you also want to help your team win. As long as my team’s winning, I’m happy.”
 
If Tolbert can’t always take it easy on teammates, how will he treat Dallas’ defensive players when they scrimmage later this week?

“I’m ready to get to Dallas, man. I can’t wait.”

Other News and Notes from Camp
 
TE Antonio Gates looked healthy from start to finish. (Fingers remain crossed.)

LB Darryl Gamble, who suffered a stinger against the Seahawks pronounced himself fine. Just hoping to make the squad by putting on another tackling display, he said he was looking forward to seeing some different looks against the Cowboys. Asked about his technique on KLSD-1360 AM XTRA Sports he chuckles, “I just go as hard as I can at the QB and it looks good at times. All I can do is do what I can and try to show the coaches I can play. Whatever 100% gets me, I’ll be happy with it.” 
 
SS Bob Sanders has been flying around camp the way he did 4 years ago as a pro bowler for the Colts. The Chargers plan to rotate him in and out of games to limit his snaps and help him stay healthy. It’s obvious why he gets hurt: he gives it everything, every time, all the time. If he plays 16 games (A BIG IF), the safety tandem of Weddle and Sanders could easily be the best in the NFL. Take that, Philly.

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Previous Comments (5)

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3 years ago
I'm curious as to how much Tolbert will be involved in the passing game vs Matthews
3 years ago

The Chargers are lucky: both have good hands. But Tolbert has done it for a season and continued it through training camp. Mathews started spotty, got injured, seemed to come back near the end of the year. He's had a good spring in that regard, too.

It wouldn't be surprising to see that both backs catch 25 passes this year. Mathews because he gets more opportunities and Tolbert because he is more frequently used as a hot route/swing or screen pass candidate when on the field.
3 years ago
Has Matthews been enough of a disappointment that Tolbert could possibly become the starter? I'm not sure about that. Matthews seems to have such promise, so I think there would have to be a situation like the Texans last year, with Foster stepping up and surprising in the aftermath of an injury. Of course, if Matthews continues to struggle and Tolbert continues to shine perhaps the Chargers make a change.
3 years ago

Mathews has quickness and breakaway speed: so there's a big play waiting to happen. But if you saw Tolbert make a shoestring catch, dive to the endzone, and then shake his thang last week, you'll know why they love him.

He's strong, he has surprisingly good hands, and he has quick feet (just not a top end gear). On top of that, he can play fullback, his blocking is great, and he's everywhere he's supposed to be. Regardless of what Mathews brings, he can't block like that, he can't catch like that (though he shows some promise), and he doesn't have the experience to be where's supposed to be yet. If he covers those, Tolbert's timeshare is reduced to goalline duty.

I don't see that happening until Week 13, 14 or 15. But it could happen this season if Mathews matures.
3 years ago
Update: defensive end Jacques Cesaire was last seen wearing a boot after Tuesday's practice. That's significant, as he would be the starter if the season opened today. It also leaves an opening for Corey "Too Legit to Quit" Liuget.

Liuget is the team's first round pick (#18 overall) and has been impressive. Extra reps won't hurt him.

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