Talking trash is part of the drill at camp
The rap music that bumps through the speakers surrounding the Chargers’ practice field at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa has been edited for content.
Chargers cornerbacks and receivers have not.
The jawing between some of the team’s best trash talkers continued to ramp up Monday with Keenan Allen and the rest of the wideouts outperforming the defensive backs. In the camp’s first practice, the cornerbacks and safeties outperformed the offense.
“We’re all so competitive,” cornerback Casey Hayward said. “The wide receivers and the DBs, we’re probably the two most competitive groups on the field. When we’re going one-onone, we want to win bad.
“And, if we win, we trash talk the rest of the day.”
It’s easiest to be enamored with the Allen-Hayward, Tyrell Williams-Craig Mager and other cornerback-wideout battles. With the team not wearing pads until Tuesday, the best and truest evaluations can be made on the outside in those one-on-ones.
“It doesn’t change for us — pads or no pads,” wide receiver Travis Benjamin said.
The competitions will get even tougher when cornerback Jason Verrett comes off the physically unable to perform list, giving the receivers two Pro Bowl corners (Hayward made the Pro Bowl last season) to test themselves against. Coach Anthony Lynn said Sunday that Verrett, who is recovering from a knee surgery, could come off the PUP list in a couple of weeks.
While the team waits for Verrett to return, competition everywhere else is scheduled to pick up. Lynn said he expects to have to try to dial back his players’ intensity after an offseason of waiting for contact.
“We’ll have to temper that,” Lynn said. “I read a stat before I became a head coach that new head coaches have a 20% higher injury rate. I think a lot of that is because guys are trying to impress the new coaches.”
That extra aggression, at least between the offensive and defensive lines, will be welcome. Lynn has frequently admitted that it’s almost impossible to evaluate those players when the team practices in shirts and shorts.
Still, even with the music playing and the pads and helmets cracking, you’ll be able to hear Hayward and Allen jawing at each other.
“I embrace it,” Hayward said of the trash talk. “We’re going to be back out here tomorrow with pads on. They’re going to have to embrace it ... because we’re going to come ready to play.”
OK to support LT?
The Sporting News, citing unnamed sources, reported before Monday’s practice that Lynn was blocking Chargers veterans Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates from attending LaDainian Tomlinson’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday.
Lynn denied the report, though he said any decision about attending would be made jointly.
“I’ve talked to Philip,” Lynn said. “I’ve talked to Antonio. I even talked to LT. We’re all on the same page. At the end of the day, we’re going to make the best decision for our football team, and that’s it.”
The Chargers have a practice scheduled with the Rams on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the StubHub Center. Rivers told NFL Network’s Alex Flannigan that he wouldn’t be attending Tomlinson’s induction.
Rivers said he wasn’t blocked by Lynn, though the coach was “adamant” about wanting Rivers at practice, Flannigan reported.
Lynn said no final decision had been made.
“Those guys are torn a little bit,” he said, “because we’re having our first practice in StubHub ... and they want to be there with their teammates.”
For the second practice in a row, Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney took reps with the first-team offensive line, though not at the same time. Feeney’s reps came at center and Lamp’s at right guard. … Undrafted rookie linebacker James Onwualu, a teammate of seventh-round pick Isaac Rochelle at Notre Dame, also got first-team reps in passing situations. Onwualu covered Allen on a route and forced an incompletion, causing the defensive sideline to cheer. … Running back Melvin Gordon broke through the line and ran away from the defense for what looked like an easy score before undrafted cornerback Michael Davis chased him down from behind, stripping the ball. … Undrafted linebacker Nigel Harris intercepted a pass from newly acquired quarterback Cardale Jones during seven-on-seven drills and broke up another pass during 11-on-11 drills.
CHARGERS VETERANS Philip Rivers, left, and Antonio Gates are weighing whether to attend ex-teammate LaDainian Tomlinson’s Hall of Fame induction.