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NFL Combine: Day 4

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 27, 2011 – 8:12 AM

9:48 a.m. EST — This is my fourth and final day reporting live from Indianapolis. Workout results will be pouring in today as we speak to linebackers and defensive backs.

10:09 a.m. EST — It’s no wonder Boston College LB Mark Herzlich garnered so much attention this season after returning to the field following a bout with cancer. He’s media gold, rewarding those that made it to the media center by his interview by articulating his fascinating story.

11:01 a.m. EST — General Manager A.J. Smith: “There’s a lot of depth in certain areas that we’re thinking about taking a close look at.”

11:41 a.m. EST – A popular question for defensive backs has been, ‘Is there a player you model yourself after?’

To a man, the corners have all answered they admire Charles Woodson. Every single player asked that question has included Woodson in his answer.

12:07 p.m. EST – Urban Meyer is on record saying Ahmad Black is one of if not the best safety in college football. That’s not what Black expected when he arrived in Gainsville, Fla., as a freshman.

“Coach Meyer is the same one that told me I’d never play at Florida,” Black said with a wide grin. “Going from that to what he said, it was a big accomplishment.”

Auburn DT Nick Fairley said that his mom won't let him get cocky if he's picked high in the draft.

12:47 p.m. EST — Auburn DT Nick Fairley measured 6-foot-4, 291 pounds.

12:58 p.m. EST – Oklahoma DB Quinton Carter credits much of his development as a Sooner to practicing against Rams QB Sam Bradford on a daily basis.

1:21 p.m. EST – Texas DB Curtis Brown says he patterns his game after Chargers CB Quentin Jammer.

LSU CB Patrick Peterson says no part of the Combine is intrusive "because I like talking to people."

2:39 p.m. EST — LSU CB Patrick Peterson says he ran a 4.29 40-yard dash last week and hopes to run in the 4.2s or low 4.3s tomorrow. Peterson measured at 6-0, 219 pounds and says he’s added muscle mass in recent weeks.

West Virginia DB Robert Sands speaks to the media.

3:10 p.m. EST — Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara, asked about mock drafts, responded: “I’m not someone who googles themselves.”

Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara says Lions DT Ndamukong Suh has advised him throughout the pre-draft process.

3:41 p.m. EST — Oregon State DT Stephen Paea set the NFL Combine record with 49 reps on the bench press. For those unfamiliar with the drill, the Combine bench press uses 225 pounds.

Oregon State DT Stephen Paea, strongest man in NFL Combine history, grew up in New Zealand and credits his lifting endurance to rugby training, which incorporates longer runs than football.

4:08 p.m. EST – The NFL has made the QB 40-yard dash times official. Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor led all QBs with a time of 4.51 seconds. Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick finished second, running 4.53, followed by Auburn’s Cam Newton and Washington’s Jake Locker at 4.59.

5:35 p.m. EST — That’s it from Indianapolis. Check Chargers.com for plenty of draft-related stories in the next two months.

Stay true and keep pounding,
Christopher


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NFL Combine: Day 3

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 26, 2011 – 7:49 AM

9:43 a.m. EST – Workout results will start pouring into the media room today, which will also give us the first interviews with defensive players. The media is busy prepping for the day’s work and angling for bagels and juice before they disappear.

Texas DE Sam Acho represents the first defensive player to speak to the media at the Combine.

11:18 a.m. EST — Texas DE Sam Acho likes the idea of becoming a 3-4 linebacker. Measuring 6-1.5, 262 pounds, he’s been working on drops since the Longhorns’ season ended and compared himself to Redskins DE Brian Orakpo.

Ohio State DE Cam Heyward speaks to the media Saturday.

11:51 a.m. EST – Ohio State DE Cam Heyward is the son of Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, a former NFL RB famous for his large head (he wore a size 8 3/4 hat).

“I’m not asking anybody to give me a second look just because my dad was Ironhead,” Heyward said. “But everybody knows I’ve got a big head just like him.”

12:06 p.m. EST – Defensive linemen are pouring into the media center including Alabama’s Marcell Dareus, Cal’s Cam Jordan and Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan, creating a bit of a feeding frenzy among those with tape recorders and notebooks.

Kerrigan said he didn’t drop much as a 4-3 DE at Purdue. “I don’t have too much experience with it, but in my training for the Combine I’ve been working a lot on my drops from a 3-4 linebacker standpoint and I feel like I’ve made a lot of strides with that.”

Cal DE Cam Jordan smiles as he listens to a question from the media.

12:24 p.m. EST — Many the offensive linemen’s bench press results are official. Syracuse C Ryan Bartholomew led all performers with 34 reps at 225 pounds.

1:02 p.m. EST – Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn faced questions about going from 11 sacks as a junior to four as a senior. He credited an increase in double and triple teams.

Asked what he hoped to prove to scouts, Clayborn said his agility. “Playing at Iowa, a lot of people don’t think us country boys can move,” he said.

Clemson DL De'Quan Bowers speaks at Podium C.

1:42 p.m. EST – Clemson DL De’Quan Bowers gave a diplomatic answer concerning his 16 sacks this season.

“Some very good defenseive tackles did all the dirty work and I got all the cleanups,” he said.

2:21 p.m. EST – The offensive line 40-yard dash times are official. Here are the top five:

1. Jason Kelce, Cincinnati: 4.93 seconds
2. Ryan Bartholomew, Syracuse: 4.97
3. Derek Newton, Arkansas State: 5.01
4. Nate Solder, Colorado: 5.05
5. Jarriel King, South Carolina: 5.09

Auburn QB Cam Newton puts on a smile at the Combine.

3:53 p.m. EST — Not surprisingly, Auburn QB Cam Newton has drawn the largest media crowd, with what I estimate to be a throng of more than 100 journalists quizzing him.

Newton talked about his well-documented relationship with his dad, the source of an NCAA investigation: “My father is just like any other father. He wants what’s best for his son. He wants to see his son succeed in every way possible.”

3:58 p.m. EST – Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt may be at the Combine now, but he had to walk on to the Badgers team. He started as a tight end at Central Michigan but felt Wisconsin gave him a better chance at making the NFL. Named the Badgers’ scout team defensive player of the year in 2008, he started all 13 games at defensive end in ’09.

Watt said he could add some weight without losing speed and is most comfortable in the 4-3 defense because that’s what he’s used to but feels he can convert to a 3-4 if needed.

“I feel very versatile and I feel like that really helps me out in the draft process,” Watt said.

4:03 p.m. EST — Alabama WR Julio Jones said one of his favorite players is Ravens LB Ray Lewis. Jones was known as a good downfield blocker in college.

“I have a defensive mentality. I’m not afraid to hit. I’m a physical guy,” Jones said. “I like to hit defensive players because they’re not used to getting hit.”

4:15 p.m. EST – Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith: “The most important thing we get out of this is the medical. It’s a top priority.”

4:53 p.m. EST — I asked Head Coach Norv Turner about evaluating the NFL’s No. 1 offense during this offseason and ahead of the draft. He’s focused on three things: Making another progression in the running game, improving the red zone offense and continuing to develop young players.

He mentioned WR Seyi Ajirotutu specifically as a player already on the roster that could help the offense improve simply by maturing as a player.

West Virginia RB Noel Devine smiles at a question about his size.

5:10 p.m. EST – West Virginia RB Noel Devine, asked if he compares himself to Maurice Jones-Drew, says he’s more similar to Chargers RB Darren Sproles.

“But that would be a great comparison. I have power like Jones-Drew but speed and ability like Darren Sproles,” Devine said. “I have explosive ability, I have the ability to make people miss and I’m a smaller target to hide behind pulling guards.”

5:47 p.m. EST — That’s it from Lucas Oil for the day. I’ll be posting a story on the Chargers’ perspective from A.J. Smith and Norv Turner later. Check back tomorrow for the final day of my coverage from Indianapolis.

Stay true and keep pounding,
Christopher


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NFL Combine: Day 2

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 25, 2011 – 7:57 AM

8:31 a.m. EST – Toto, we’re not in San Diego any more. Walking to Lucas Oil Stadium this morning required careful foot placement to avoid patches of snow not decimated by salt. On the docket today: QBs, RBs and WRs.

The scene outside Lucas Oil Stadium, where snow piled up on the side of the street.

10:24 a.m. EST – The NFL is introducing a standardized sideline concussion test. Margot Putukian, director of athletic medicine at Princeton University: “It’s not a mandate. It’s really a guideline.” Putukian said it will standardize the NFL’s concussion evaluation on the sideline and hopes it will trickle down to other levels of football.

11:18 a.m. EST — Many players enter the Combine with a better chance to affect their draft status by proving something about their character or medically than by having a good workout. One of them, North Carolina WR Greg Little, missed the 2010 season after the NCAA declared him ineligible for agent-related benefits.

“I think it was one of the best things that ever happened to me in my life. It was a very pivotal point,” Little said. “This has been a great start to my path to redemption. I’m out to prove that even though you make mistakes you can still progress (as a person).”

Miami WR Leonard Hankerson has lofty goals. He aspires to emulate Houston Texans WR and former Hurricanes star Andre Johnson.

12:15 p.m. EST — TCU QB Andy Dalton, like many at his position, wants to prove his game can translate to an NFL offense.

“(I want to prove) I can go out and make all the throws. I’ve worked really hard to improve everything and hopefully I’m going to go out and show them that.”

TCU QB Andy Dalton's face became well-recognized after a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.

12:44 p.m. EST – Georgia WR A.J. Green already is a media veteran. Asked to predict his 40 time, where he hopes to be drafted, if it matters to him to be the first WR taken and which teams would be a good fit, he deferred to speculate and answered that he’s focused on things he can control.

Georgia WR A.J. Green speaks at the podium Friday.

Washington QB Jake Locker says he’s ready to squash questions about his accuracy.

1:13 p.m. EST – Washington QB Jake Locker on his much-discussed decision to return for his senior season this past year instead of entering the draft early: “As a player and as a person I’m a lot more prepared for this process. I don’t think I would’ve been as prepared for it last year.”

San Diego State WR Vincent Brown meets with the media.

1:54 p.m. EST — San Diego State WR Vincent Brown measured 5-foot-11, 187 pounds.

“I’m not the fastest, biggest guy so I’m going to make sure I fine-tune all the little things with my game,” Brown said.

Brown made 309 receptions for 3,110 yards and 23 touchdowns at SDSU. He said he models his game after Colts WR Reggie Wayne and Greg Jennings.

Brown also commented on former Aztecs head coach Brady Hoke, who accepted the Michigan head coaching job.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of sour feelings left in San Diego because of that, but he’s a great coach. He did a lot for that program just in the two years that he was there. I was sad to see him go, but he’s chasing a dream job and I guess you can’t fault him for that,” Brown said.

2:02 p.m. EST – Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert admitted he played in shotgun formations “about 98 percent of the time” in college.

“I wouldn’t say the reads are different. Of course the footwork is different, so that’s what I’ve focused on,” Gabbert said.

Gabbert announced he will not throw until his pro day on March 17.

Alabama QB Greg McElroy placed a credit card on top of his head and said that's how much he lacked from measuring 6-foot-2.

2:25 p.m. EST – Alabama QB Greg McElroy got conflicting opinions on a hand injury he suffered around the Senior Bowl.

Then he realized he couldn’t throw a five-yard hitch route, “which I’ve been able to throw since about seventh grade, if you can believe it.” He couldn’t deliver the ball, and another MRI revealed a fracture of his second metacarpal. He won’t throw this week and may not be able to throw during his pro day.

Alabama RB and former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram smiles.

3:28 p.m. EST – Alabama RB Mark Ingram missed two games in 2010 with a knee injury and said his biggest focus this weekend is to participate in all the drills and prove he’s healthy.

He measured 5-foot-9, 215 pounds and said he dropped weight in the last few weeks.

Ingram has no qualms about the NFL’s trend toward splitting carries between two running backs. He did so at Alabama with Trent Richardson the year after winning the Heisman.

“It really was no problem to me. Trent was deserving of all his carries. We were a better team splitting carries because he’s such an explosive playmaker,” Ingram said.

3:50 p.m. EST – Oregon RB Jacquizz Rodgers arrived in the media room after the five-hour medical gauntlet and faces several rounds of interviews with teams. He looks forward to the actual workout on his final day in Indianapolis.

“It seems like that’s going to be the easiest part of the (Combine), and very quick,” Rodgers said.

4:08 p.m. EST — Many considered Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey one of the NFL’s top rookies last season. Now brother Mike Pouncey is ready to enter the draft after shifting to center at Florida last season.

“I’ve got to be drafted higher than Maurkice, (No.) 18 or better, (or) I’ll never live hear the end of it,” Pouncey said.

Two-way Stanford FB Owen Marecic speaks to the media.

Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams marks the end of media room activity on Friday.

5:33 p.m. EST — That’s about it from Lucas Oil Stadium for today. Check Chargers.com later for stories from Indianapolis and visit tomorrow for the first look at the defensive side of the ball.


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NFL Combine: Day 1

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 24, 2011 – 8:48 AM

9:30 a.m. EST – The media room on the east side of Lucas Oil Stadium is packed with laptops, recorders and bodies, many of whom are making the same jokes about the weather (cold) and the time (early, especially for those coming from the West coast). We’re still awaiting the arrival of players, which will begin to trickle toward the three podiums in the next few hours.

Players have yet to arrive at the media room, but they'll start flocking to podiums like this one in the next few hours.

10:42 a.m. EST – Former Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera: The Panthers will consider taking a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, but their pool of potential selections includes “seven to 10″ at this point. He reiterated the importance of finding or developing a franchise quarterback after having Philip Rivers in San Diego.

Former Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera speaks with the media at the Combine.

11:25 a.m. EST — Director of College Scouting John Spanos talks in the hall after morning weigh-ins for arriving players. Spanos says the Chargers value the medical exams and 1-on-1 interviews most in the Combine process.

Oklahoma State K Dan Bailey is the first of dozens of players to enter the Combine media room.

11:42 a.m. EST – Oklahoma State kicker Dan Bailey is the first player to enter the media room. Bailey won the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker in 2010, making 27-of-31 field goals, but didn’t even have a scholarship until his junior season.

Alabama OT James Carpenter won a national championship his junior season after transferring from Coffeyeville (Kan.) Community College.

Fresno State QB Ryan Colburn speaks at Podium B.

12:39 p.m. EST – Fresno State quarterback Ryan Colburn talked about former teammates and current Chargers Ryan Mathews and Seyi Ajirotutu. “I played a lot of ball with those guys,” he said.

Mathews and Ajirotutu attended Colburn’s wedding five weeks ago.

“I talked to Seyi a few days ago (about the Combine) and he just told me to be myself. I have nothing to hide. Me as a person is my best attribute and I’m here to showcase that.”

1:01 p.m. EST — Conference pride remains a big deal to many of these players. Just ask Georgia OL Clint Boling: “Obviously I’d like to think the SEC is the best conference. We won four national championships (during my career).”

Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi doesn't lack confidence. "I know I'm the best tackle out there."

1:27 p.m. EST – Houston OL Isaiah Thompson  on the Bod Pod, a clostrophobic egg-shaped structure that measures body fat: “I’m an offensive lineman, so probably all of us failed.”

Said Thompson of the entire medical process, which included urine samples and giving blood: “I was at the hospital so long yesterday I thought they were going to give me a room and a bed.”

1:33 p.m. EST – South Carolina OL Garrett Chisolm lost both of his parents to cancer. He played one season at Pikeville (Ky.) College in 2006 and missed football in ’07 and ’08. Senior day with the Gamecocks was emotional for him; he carried a framed photograph of his parents onto the field.

He also got emotional when he learned of the Combine invite: “I was ecstatic. It was an unreal feeling that I’d actually be at the NFL Combine with some of the best athletes in the world.”



2:21 p.m. EST – Florida OT Marcus Gilbert’s father was a part of President Obama’s Secret Service detail for two years. Gilbert promises Obama hasn’t given him any footwork tips ahead of the Combine.

“I think I can take care of that just fine. What did he roll up, his ankle or something like that?” Gilbert said. “I could probably teach him a couple of things.”

Louisville TE Cameron Graham acknowledged the need to shore up his blocking at the NFL level. "I feel like every tight end (coming out) needs to work on blocking."USC TE Jordan Cameron talks to the media.

 

2:52 p.m. EST – USC TE Jordan Cameron originally attended BYU for basketball. Unlike Chargers TE Antonio Gates, though, he did play football in college, beginning as a reserve wide receiver.

Cameron does consider himself an athletic receiving tight end but shied away from any comparison to a few NFL players with basketball backgrounds.

“Everybody’s unique. Everybody’s different. I’ll pave my own way,” Cameron said.

3:24 p.m. EST – Villanova OL Ben Ijalana would add to the list of NFL linemen with wrestling backgrounds. Chargrers DT Antonio Garay, likely the most successful of the bunch, was an All-American at Boston College.

“To this day, wrestling is the hardest physical activity I’ve done,” Ijalana said.

Arkansas TE D.J. Williams smiles as he recounts his senior season.

4:08 p.m. EST – D.J. Williams did not want to reveal his goal for the 40-yard dash, so he appeased reporters by saying he’d like to run a 4.1. Chris Johnson’s electronically-timed record is 4.24 seconds.

Williams, who caught 149 passes for more than 1,800 yards, said Bobby Petrino got onto him good after his sophomore year about his lack of blocking, which he made a focus during his final two seasons.

“My background pretty much was like sandpaper. It was really rough. But after that sandpaper wore out, me and my family came out smooth,” Williams said.

Baylor OL Danny Watkins speaks at Podium B late Thursday afternoon.

5:15 p.m. EST – Baylor OL Danny Watkins grew up a hardcore Vancouver Canucks fan that loved hockey and rugby. He became a firefighter at 17 years old in British Columbia, which he remained for four years.

Watkins went to California to advance his firefighting career and was convinced to play football for Butte Community College, where Packers QB Aaron Rodgers played at one time.

Watkins is also 26 years old.

“I don’t have arthritis,” Watkins joked.

5:46 p.m. EST – That’s it for the day in Indianapolis. I’ll be here tomorrow to talk with quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.

Stay true and keep pounding,
Christopher


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This Day in Chargers History: Feb. 22

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 22, 2011 – 10:31 AM

Feb. 22, 1977 – Carlos Polk, a seven-year player for the San Diego Chargers, was born. Polk made 120 career tackles. His best season on defense came in 2006 when he made 45 tackles and recorded two sacks, though he was a standout special teams player for most of his career. Polk also spent the last two seasons working with the Chargers.


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This Day in Chargers History: Feb. 19

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 18, 2011 – 11:58 PM

 Feb. 19, 2007 – Norv Turner becomes the organization’s 14th head coach, beginning one of the most successful periods in Chargers history. Turner won 44 games and three AFC West championships in his first four seasons.


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This Day in Chargers History: Feb. 16

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 16, 2011 – 12:26 PM

Feb. 16, 1976 – The team names John Sanders general manager. Sanders was named the NFL Executive of the Year in balloting of other NFL executives conducted by The Sporting News in 1980.


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Season in Photos: Week 17

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 14, 2011 – 5:52 PM

Jan. 2, 2011 – San Diego at Denver

The Chargers finished the season with a 33-28 win against the Broncos, improving to 7-2 in the last nine games.

With Mike Tolbert (neck/shoulder) out, Ryan Mathews rushed for 120 yards and three touchdowns in his best game as a rookie.

Philip Rivers threw for 313 yards and assumed the NFL passing title with a career-best 4,710 passing yards.

San Diego built a 33-14 lead in the fourth quarter and withstood a late flourish to secure a winning season.

Here are some snapshots from INVESCO Field:

Ryan Mathews reaches the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown in spite of a facemask penalty against Denver to tie the game, 7-7, early in the second quarter.

Malcom Floyd secures a dazzling one-handed grab despite close coverage and the need to extend his 6-foot-5 frame into a full dive.

Nate Kaeding kicks one of his five field goal attempts in Denver. He made four and finished the last six games 16-of-18 without a miss inside 50 yards.

Mathews stretches for a 12-yard touchdown that gave San Diego a 23-7 lead early in the third quarter.

Antoine Cason, who emerged late in the season as a viable punt returner, runs this one back 62 yards to set up a Kaeding field goal in the third quarter.

Mathews brushes Robert Ayers away and reverses field for a 31-yard touchdown run, his third of the game.

Philip Rivers greets Tim Tebow after their first game starting against one another.

Stay true and keep pounding,
Christopher


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This Day in Chargers History: Feb. 14

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 14, 2011 – 9:08 AM

Feb. 14, 2000 – Re-signed long snapper David Binn to his fifth contract. Binn, the Chargers’ all-time leader in games played with 256, re-signed four times since.


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This Day in Chargers History: Feb. 13

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 13, 2011 – 3:45 AM

Feb. 13, 1997 – The Alex G. Spanos Sports Fields are dedicated at Kate Sessions Elementary School in Pacific Beach after a $102,000 donation from the Alex Spanos family. Students from Kate Sessions and The Bishops School, as well as the community of Pacific Beach, will use the fields.


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