San Diego Chargers Week 1 OTAs Update


Organized Team Activities (OTAs) have been an integral part of the National Football League landscape since offseason training first started. Offseason training and OTAs allow teams to keep players mentally and physically sharp, even with the dull monotony of the NFL offseason.

2015 saw some new rules and regulations regard offseason training, mandated by the latest collective bargaining agreement.

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According to, “each club’s official, voluntary nine-week offseason program is conducted in three phases: Phase 1 consists of the first two weeks of the program with activities limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only. Phase 2 consists of the next three weeks of the program. On-field workouts may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a “separates” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.

Phase 3 consists of the next four weeks of the program. Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or “OTAs.” No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

Article 22 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that clubs may hold one mandatory minicamp for veteran players. This minicamp, noted below, must occur during Phase Three of the offseason program.”

With that stated, while the real training and practicing doesn’t occur until later in the summer, OTAs can prove to be very important and extremely beneficial to an individual team’s success.

For example, for players suffering with bad play, OTAs can mean a chance to retool or even improve their individual skills. As we saw with many teams in 2015, although talent and skill play a part, absolutely nothing beats preparation.

As for the San Diego Chargers, the Bolts instituted their three phases of OTAs this past week, with their first day coming on May 26th. Their last OTA day for this week ended on May 28th.

In the coming month, the Chargers will have two more OTA periods, with OTAs from June 1-3 and June 8-11. San Diego’s official/mandatory camp starts promptly on June 16th, 2015.

In their first OTA period, the Chargers saw the emergence of many players ranging from rookie running back Melvin Gordon to even backup wide receiver Dontrelle Inman.

According to editor Ricky Henne, ““He looks good,” said a grinning Philip Rivers.  “He’s done a good job so far.  He’s still learning, and there is a lot to learn, but he’s fit right in…Jamaal Charles is a guy that stands out. Now, I don’t know if Melvin will agree with me, but Jamaal is probably a little faster but Melvin is bigger.  But they do look alike.  Some of the cuts they make and the way they run, he is the first guy who comes to mind.'”

Gordon later stated in an interview with reporters that he is continuing to get better day after day and emphasizing the mental aspect of the game over the physical aspect.

May 26, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Branden Oliver (43) participates in a drill during organized team activities at Charger Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Mike McCoy understands Gordon’s lack of NFL schematic and mental knowledge and praised him on his willingness to learn.

In that same article, McCoy stated, “[Gordon] did a good job overall. I think he’s got a long way to go really learning how we’re going to run the football here, protection, schemes; things like that. The route techniques we want him to use.  When does he need to help a little bit more.  Obviously we’re not in pads right now, so it’s not fully game speed yet, but not a bad start.”

Other RB Danny Woodhead has showed his versatility in OTAs, too, showing no signs of his broken ankle injury that he suffered back in 2014..

As for the other Chargers, former Virginia Cavalier Dontrelle Inman has impressed thus far as he “made a couple impressive catches along the sideline on Tuesday against blanket coverage. At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Inman has long arms and sure hands. More important, he appears to have earned the trust of quarterback Philip Rivers. However, if Inman wants to earn a job on the back end of San Diego’s roster, he has to prove he can contribute on special teams,” according to ESPN’s Eric D. Williams.

Inman was clutch for the Chargers at the end of the season, catching some key passes from Rivers against San Francisco late in the game. It is great to see that some of the Chargers lesser-known players can still make an impact during the offseason. Apparently Stevie Johnson has been playing well, too. With Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, Inman and Johnson all playing well, it will be hard for Philip Rivers to say no to another three or four years in San Diego.

Some other notes from the OTAs include positives from LB Melvin Ingram, WR Keenan Allen, QB Philip Rivers and TE David Johnson.

According to multiple sources, Ingram, initially over 260 pounds, has slimmed down an unbelievable 20 pounds in this 2015 offseason.

Per ESPN’s Eric D. Williams, Ingram “missed 19 out of a possible 48 games during his three-year career in San Diego. He missed 12 games in 2013 due to a torn ACL in his left knee suffered in the offseason. He missed another seven games last year because of a hip injury that did not require surgery…To help avoid injuries, Ingram lost 20 pounds while training in Miami during the offseason, reporting to Chargers Park at a chiseled 246 pounds. ”

May 26, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram and inside linebacker Donald Butler (56) warm-up during organized team activities at Charger Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Ingram told reporters that his weight was effecting his overall body health and that he needed to stop getting injured, and start getting quicker.

According to’s Kevin Patra, “‘Being at 260 or 265, 266, wasn’t working, really,’ Ingram said. ‘I felt quick but I kept getting injured. You’ve got to nitpick at your own body, your own self, your own game. … I felt like playing lighter would be a better thing for me. The lighter you are, the less stress it is on your body, the less stress it is on your knees, your hips, your joints or your ankles, your toes — everything.'”

With that stated, I am excited to see what Ingram brings to the table here in 2015. He’ll be working with some of the rookie line backers and can make a huge difference if he remains healthy all through this 2015 offseason and regular season.

As for WR Keenan Allen, the once prosperous rookie wide out is clamping down on mistakes in this 2015 offseason. After dropping nearly 300 yards and half of his touchdowns from the previous season, Allen is going back to basics during Chargers OTAs.

According to’s Ricky Henne, Allen stated in an interview “‘My focus this offseason was just getting back to the basics. Focusing on fundamentals and doing what I do. Playing my ball and not trying to do too much…I will definitely do whatever is best for the team, and that could mean more in the slot.  That would be good.  Stevie (Johnson) and I can do some work there, so I will try to do the best I can be.’”

Hopefully after his 77-catch, 783-yard, four-touchdown performance in 2014, Allen can use his “back to basics” attitude in the offseason to produce results in the 2015 regular season. He will be working with a lot of new wide receiving faces, but I believe with his positive demeanor, we could be seeing a breakout year from KA13.

Speaking of dealing with said new receiving faces, Philip Rivers has been a vocal presence in the locker room as well as on the field, helping out rookie players learn their positions. In particular, rookie QB Chase Rettig has learned a lot from the veteran Rivers.

Per Rickey Henne from, Rettig stated “It’s a great opportunity to watch Philip Rivers…[He] has been forward about if I have any questions, just to let him know.  When I first got here last week, Philip was in with Melvin (Gordon) going over protections, and he was helping me too while he was helping him.  He was teaching me a lot, so he’s been a great help.  I’m relishing the opportunity to learn from him.  You’ve got to.”

May 26, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) gestures as quarterback Kellen Clemens (10) looks on during organized team activities at Charger Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran tight end David Johnson, utilized more for his blocking abilities than for his receiving abilities has earned recognition from tight ends coach Pete Metzelaars.

According to an interview with’s Ricky Henne, Metzelaars said ““[Johnson] is another guy who brings that physical toughness…I thought he did a great job for us as mostly the fullback, but he is also a great on the line blocker. We were really encouraged, and we’d like to get him in situations where he is on the line blocking more because he can be really good at the point of attack.”

With the multitude of Chargers tight ends on the roster, perhaps Johnson could be the standout behind Ladarius Green and Antonio Gates. He looks to be an “in the trenches” type-of-guy who could really help out the Chargers new and improved running game. He’ll have to beat out seven other tight ends though if he is going to get on the starting roster.

It will be a challenge, but I think that Johnson has the correct mentality that should earn him playing time in 2015.

With that stated, it appears that the Chargers are in a good position with their OTA progress. The mentality shown by the rookies as well as the veterans is indeed very promising.

The only thing that is a tad disappointing about the Chargers first OTAs is the absence of Chargers all-pro safety Eric Weddle. Weddle, in a current contract dispute with Chargers management, is opting to stay out of OTAs until his contract situation is addressed. The safety’s contract ends after the 2015 season is over and needs to be re-signed as soon as possible if the Chargers want to have any hope of a secondary in 2016.

Regardless though, the Bolts are in good position with Jimmy Wilson and Jahleel Addae getting the starting reps in OTAs. Their next OTAs will be starting on Monday and will show even more signs of what is to come in the rest of 2015.

Next: Who should be the Chargers starting right guard?

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