Monthly Archives: July 2015
Football is back.
Although there was the obvious stadium chatter among the fans, it was easy to just keep my eyes on the field — maybe except when I “accidentally” recorded that good-looking girl walking by — and concentrate on Charger football.
There was no tackling, the players were in shorts and the play calling was very vanilla.
All of that being said, without over-evaluating the guys after their first day, there were some takeaways after day one of training camp.
Here are some notes and observations.
– Many of the players, including Keenan Allen and Jacoby Jones, started having fun as soon as they stepped out onto the practice field.
– There were ZERO players working on the side. For a team that seems to be missing crucial players due to injury quite often, it was incredibly refreshing.
– Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle were up to their usual jawing.
– Jason Verrett looked to be the fastest player out there.
– First offensive play was a completed drag route from Rivers to Ladarius Green.
– Melvin Gordon has a long way to go, but you can tell he has the tools to be special.
– The team rotated DJ Fluker and Joe Barksdale at right tackle in early phases of practice.
– Although Barksdale also saw some action at right guard, Johnnie Troutman was primarily out there with the first-team offense at the position.
– Stevie Johnson wears a weird hood on the outside of his helmet. Not sure why.
– Stevie made a highlight-reel catch on a play where Stevie Williams had solid coverage on him.
– Craig Mager realized that he is no longer at North Texas. He struggled often.
– Gates made a few solid plays. He had one toe-tapping grab on the sideline on a well-placed pass from Rivers.
– Kyle Emanuel was on the first-team for punt coverage.
– Denzel Perryman knocked down a pass over the middle.
– Jacoby Jones can run.
– Danny Woodhead looked quick and explosive. Nice to see him back.
– Similar to Woodhead, Branden Oliver was quick in and out of cuts.
– Craig Watts — in as a reserve left guard — had two straight plays in a row where he did a solid job opening holes in the running game, and good protection on a pass play.
– Orlando Franklin had a great practice. I am so glad he’s a Charger.
– Team speed has increased via acquired players and returning players coming back healthy.
– Titus Davis, a player I’ve written about a couple of times, looked good, catching the ball well.
– The cornerback position is deep at this point.
– Brad Sorensen wasn’t there for the early stages of practice, as his wife gave birth to their second child.
As mentioned above, it is way too premature to do anything other than throw out some first-day observations. But as long as we aren’t talking about the stadium situation, the team not extending Weddle’s contract, the Gates’ suspension or Rivers being hesitant to work out a long-term deal, I’m perfectly fine with throwing together some notes about today’s practice.
I’ll be there again tomorrow, and my major hope is the same that it is each day the Chargers practice: Just stay healthy.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Word got out last week that the NFL was not going to permit the Seau family to attend or present San Diego Chargers legend Junior Seau into the Hall of Fame. The NFL Hall-Of-Fame enshrinement ceremony will take place on August 8th.
Many subplots surround this story. In a tragic end to a great story, Junior took his own life and it was later revealed he suffered from CTE. In medical terms, CTE is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
This is the definition of CTE, as taken directly from the Boston University CTE center:
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head. CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s. However, recent reports have been published of neuropathologically confirmed CTE in retired professional football players and other athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma.
This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.
This and other medical information is something the NFL has long had access to but neglected to use, hence, the eventual settlement. The concussions incurred from Seau’s relentless playing style as one of if not the league’s best middle linebackers in his time period is the cause of his CTE. However, Seau was not once diagnosed with a concussion during his playing career.
Over the last three years the effects of concussions and a greater emphasis on player safety has become a priority. In January 2014, a 675-million concussion settlement was reached in litigation between the NFL vs. retired NFL players and their families. The settlement was rejected by federal judges, then ultimately became an uncapped monetary settlement in April 2015, ensuring all retired players requiring money for their illnesses were accommodated.
Junior himself said he wanted his daughter Sydney to induct him into the Hall-of-Fame. The NFL told Sydney Seau she could speak at the induction ceremony then eventually changed their minds. The reason for their reversal of course is a five-year-old policy declaring families can’t speak for players inducted posthumously. Seau ended his life in 2012.
The NFL is allowing a five-minute highlight reel to be played as his induction piece, 60% longer than the two-minute highlight package given to other players.
Hold your applause…
The league is obviously afraid of what the family would have to say. After all, the family does have a lawsuit filed against the NFL in light of the CTE findings and the NFL’s hiding of such information from its players. It’s a legitimate fear from the league. The last thing they want is family members creating a scene over their inductee, who literally gave his life to the game. It only takes one to ruin it for the rest.
That’s never happened. It wouldn’t with Sydney Seau.
The Seau family wouldn’t want the last public image of Junior and their family to be a rambling, chaotic diatribe against the NFL. Sydney Seau reveres her father and would add nothing but class to the proceedings in a tribute fitting of an NFL legend.
The NFL also mentioned time constraints.
For those of you who haven’t watched an NFL Hall-Of-Fame induction ceremony, it lasts for five to six hours. The inductees take the podium and talk…and talk…and talk. They start at childhood and almost give a year by year synopsis of their life. These speeches can and usually do go for an hour or more. What we see on Sportscenter are the few seconds of material that won’t put us to sleep. Let’s start with cutting their podium time if you want a streamlined show. Time is logic almost as ludicrous as the family induction rule.
Five minutes isn’t worthy of a man who is arguably one of the greatest middle ever linebackers to compete in the NFL. Five minutes isn’t worthy of a 12-time Pro Bowler, NFL Defensive player of the year, member of the NFL’s 40th and 50th anniversary team, and 1990’s All-Decade team.
Five minutes isn’t worthy of a man who, in his greatest game, was literally single-handedly responsible for the Chargers 1994 AFC Championship game victory over the favored Pittsburgh Steelers. In that game, Seau recorded 16 tackles playing with a pinched nerve in his neck that left him without the feeling in his left arm.
In reality, the NFL is missing a golden opportunity. In a perfect world, this is what would happen. Sydney Seau would get fifteen minutes of podium time, short and sweet by HOF standards. She would have time to lovingly speak from her heart and for the family. She would make no mention of the CTE, just of what Junior meant as a son, brother, father and community activist.
After Sydney’s’ speech is concluded she would be joined at the podium by Roger Goodell, who would lead the audience in another round of applause. After a warm hug and a few seconds posing for photographers, Goodell himself would speak about CTE and what the NFL is doing to improve the safety of its players. He could then take a moment to offer his condolences to Sydney and use Junior’s life as a message to the NFL to get players treatment now so this doesn’t happen in the future.
Simply put, the NFL is hiding something they need to be bringing more attention to and this is a great forum to address it.
Standing next to Sydney Seau in a show of solidarity would send a strong message. It would speak to the retired players and legends in attendance. It would speak to over 4000 players who have lawsuits filed against the NFL right now. It’s an acknowledgement of the league’s compassion for the players that made the NFL what it is today. It’s a chance to get some good press amidst the ongoing Deflategate scandal and endless suspensions surrounding the upcoming season. It’s a chance to abolish a flawed rule and a chance to increase the luster of the shield instead of tarnishing the families behind it.
Tell the NFL how you feel. Use the hashtag.
As much support as Antonio Gates has from his quarterback, Philip Rivers, that isn’t going to help him avoid the four-game suspension he will face for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He will be sorely missed, but preparation to play without the 35-year-old must begin as soon as training camp starts.
In comes Ladarius Green.
Entering his fourth season in the league, Green has flashed some major ability at times. The 2013 season seemed to set him up to have a breakout campaign in 2014. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, as he finished with 150 receiving yards less than he did as a sophomore in the league. Additionally, he was held without a touchdown in 2014 after scoring three times the previous season.
Peewee, as he was is interestingly nicknamed, sports a 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame. Add to that his blazing speed for his size, and you have the makings of quite the offensive weapon. Over the last two seasons, he’s averaged 16.7 yards per reception. That is very impressive for a wide receiver, much less a tight end.
Not only does he need to take the next step for his team, it just so happens that he is in a contract year in 2015.
There is nowhere to go, Ladarius, nowhere to hide. As gut-wrenching as it is to lose Gates for four games, it creates the perfect opportunity for Green to make the most of this bad situation.
Pundits everywhere have been claiming that they see Green as the next big thing at the tight end position. He has the measurables and athleticism to make an impact, but now he has the chance to put them together and impress both the Chargers and the rest of the league.
Despite the loss of Gates, the offense does have weapons like Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, Stevie Johnson and Danny Woodhead to take some of the burden off the shoulders of Green. A solid running game would, without a doubt, help ease the 25-year-old into the fold, as well.
Speaking of the running game, Green has actually done a better job as a run-blocker than Gates, according to Pro Football Focus. Although his opportunities were far less than that of Gates, it is worth noting that he can hold his own in the run-blocking department per the standards set by his predecessor.
No one is expecting him to come out and light the world on fire, but he does need to come in and make an impact until Gates is allowed back onto the playing field. As mentioned above, due to this being the last year of his contract with the team, he’s working to earn that next deal, whether it’s with the Chargers or another NFL franchise.
Notice I didn’t say in San Diego, I said with the Chargers? That’s a story for another day.
Thanks a lot for reading.
On July 21, Jason Verrett hosted the Strikes for Kids charity bowling night. Sponsors from the San Diego community formed teams to compete in a night of fun. Verrett, Jahleel Addae, Jeremiah Attaochu and NFL Hall-of-Famer Andre Reed all turned out for the event.
Kaiser Permanente sponsored Strikes for Kids, which benefits Boys and Girls clubs of greater San Diego. You can find more information about the program by going to their website, www.strikesforkidssd.com. Verrett served as a gracious host, stopping to sign every autograph, take pictures and grant interviews for all who asked as did Attaochu, Addae and Reed.
Local news outlets were present to interview the budding star cornerback. Last season Verrett was ranked as high as second in cornerback rankings according to Pro Football Focus, right behind teammate Brandon Flowers. Injuries limited his production last season but Verrett looks great and is in shape, ready to show he is the next shutdown corner in the NFL.
Every child and team that attended were given Chargers goodie bags and t-shirts commemorating the event. There was a silent auction of autographed Chargers memorabilia from signed mini helmets and footballs to action photos of LaDainian Tomlinson, Chuck Muncie and other San Diego greats. A vintage autographed Tony Gwynn Padres jersey was also among the items up for bids.
Yours truly was present alongside BoltBlitz founder Dave ‘Booga’ Peters and staff writer Misty Jenkins representing team BoltBlitz. It was an honor to be invited to participate and be one of the many supporting sponsors for such a worthy cause. Included in this column are photos I took at the event. Verrett was all smiles and very easy to talk to amidst all the attention focused on him. He is an easy guy to root for and I can definitely be counted among the throngs in his fan club.
The Chargers players support many causes in the community. We here at BoltBlitz are proud to support and help spread the message of such events. Be sure to come out and support your team and community. Fun will be had by all!
The Greg One
Articles from Chargers.com:
Scott Lewis of the Voice of San Diego writes about what the City and County have to offer for stadium funding.
Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune talks about how Mayor Faulconer is fighting to keep the Bolts in San Diego.
Tom Krasovic of The San Diego Union-Tribune addresses whether or not Mike McCoy is on the hot seat
Articles from The San Diego Union-Tribune:
How a new ‘Q’ may change Mission Valley by Jonathan Ford
Weddle aims to lead, show Bolts by Tom Krasovic
‘Good’ not the goal for Jason Verrett by Michael Gehlken
Articles from Eric Williams of ESPN.com:
Articles from Chargers.com:
San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates made news this offseason when he said he wanted fewer touches. It’s odd to hear a star player say he wants to see the ball less. However, I’m sure he didn’t plan on achieving that goal by using performance-enhancing substances and getting suspended for the first four games of the season. One can’t ignore the irony of the timing of all this with Gates entering his 13th and likely final season as a professional football player.
We can believe he didn’t know and whether we do or not it still doesn’t change the fact that he will miss a quarter of the season. He will be ineligible to return until week five against the Steelers in San Diego. With Gates being out, quarterback Philip Rivers loses his security blanket. Gates is the one player Rivers can rely on to be where he’s supposed to be 99.9% of the time. The two have a nearly telepathic link on the field. They are the most prolific quarterback/tight end combination in NFL history.
How will Rivers and the Chargers make up for Gates’ absence?
Unlike previous seasons, the Chargers are more equipped to handle this unexpected hurdle now than they would have been in previous years. The offensive line has been rebuilt and is composed of young, man-mountains to protect Rivers and clear running lanes for new workhorse running back Melvin Gordon. Speaking of whom, he is the first way the Chargers accommodate for the loss of Gates.
1. Strong running game. A strong running game is something the Chargers haven’t consistently had since LaDainian Tomlinson left to join the Jets. Yes, Ryan Mathews had one season two years ago where he finished in the top-five in rushing, but his entire tenure as a Charger was marred by injuries, fumbles and blown opportunities. Melvin Gordon has yet to take his first snap in an official NFL game, but his track record speaks for itself. Gordon is a franchise back who does inherit an offensive line stronger than Mathews had, and it’s one reason he will be more successful than Mathews. With Gordon, Woodhead, Oliver and Brown pacing the running attack, Rivers will take less damage, the chains will keep moving and the passing game will benefit as a result.
2. Healthy Danny Woodhead. Woodhead is the Swiss army knife of the running back corps. The reason he is listed separately is he will make up for a lot of the catches Gates would get. The Bolts can line him up all over the field. Woodhead can play wide receiver, halfback or in the slot, creating a match-up nightmare for the defense. His elusiveness combined with an even faster no-huddle offense will account for yards in bunches.
3. Deep receiving corps. Rivers will begin the season with Floyd, Keenan Allen and the blossoming Dontrelle Inman plus newly acquired vets Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones as his wideouts. Allen is looking to improve on a sophomore campaign where the added attention he received as the Chargers’ number one receiver led to subpar results by his own standards. Allen caught more balls in 2014 than he did in 2013 (77 to 71), but for fewer yards (1046 to 783) and half as many touchdowns (eight to four). Inman and Rivers have shown good on-field chemistry that will only get better. Johnson and Jones are getting much-needed fresh starts and should thrive on a team on the cusp of being special.
4. Ladarius Green. Last but definitely not least, if Ladarius Green is going to step up and be the heir apparent to Gates, now is the time. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from Green. He’s bigger than Gates at 6’6″, 240. He’s faster than Gates and we’ve seen his breakaway speed on the field. He’s entering his fourth year on the team with three years of tutelage from a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer as a mentor.
Green has had three years to work on his hands, route-running and master how to use his body to his advantage the way Gates did when he came to the Chargers. Green only had 19 catches for 226 yards because Gates found his fountain of youth to the tune of 69 catches for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns. Now those targets will go to Green, the only true passing-game threat from the tight end position with Gates out. What he does next will determine his fate in lightning bolts. Success makes the offense nearly unstoppable. Failure will see him on another team in 2016.
Fortunately for the Chargers, tight end is a luxury with the team scheduled to take the field in September instead of a necessity. The schedule also favors the Chargers in Gates’ absence with the first two games against Detroit and Cincinnati. Yes, they both made the playoffs last season but they are both hot-and-cold, wildly inconsistent teams. Games three and four are against perennial doormats Minnesota and Cleveland. The Vikings will get a huge boost from the return of disgruntled star running back Adrian Peterson. But after a season off, how will the man who traditionally skips preseason fare in his fourth game of real contact? Cleveland? There are no easy wins, but Cleveland is about as close as it gets these days.
San Diego will head into Gates’ return game against Pittsburgh with a 3-1 record or better. By then, we won’t wonder how the Bolts did it without him, but how much greater they will become with him.
Agree or disagree, Bolt Nation? Voice your opinions below.
The Greg One
As the countdown to the new NFL season continues, we all look forward to seeing our beloved San Diego Chargers take the field. Whether it’s in shorts, pads or full gear, nothing makes us happier than to know they’re busy preparing for what could be a landmark season.
It could be a landmark season for a number of reasons. Could this be the last season the team plays in San Diego? Will this be the last time we see the ‘Core Four’ of Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Eric Weddle, Malcom Floyd in lightning bolts together? Floyd has stated this is his final season and it’s looking that way for Gates as well, but nothing is certain until it happens. Is this team finally ready for a lengthy postseason run amidst all the toil and trouble?
So many questions…
On paper, this may be the best team the Chargers have fielded since the LaDainian Tomlinson era. The offense is getting overdue attention, especially after drafting phenom running back Melvin Gordon to replace Ryan Mathews in the backfield. Where this team will really shock the league will be on defense.
General manager Tom Telesco has done an excellent job of signing a young, talented nucleus of players to multi-year contracts. Donald Butler, Corey Liuget are locked in long term. Melvin Ingram is in his option year so he has to stay on the field and perform at a high level to get a second contract similar to the aforementioned Butler and Liuget. Mantei Te’o, Jeremiah Attaochu and this year’s crop of draftees are in Bolts for at least the next two years under their rookie contracts.
The secondary, long considered a weakness in San Diego, will return the tandem that was the best in the league while they played together in Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to play the entire season due to injuries. Their presence would have been instrumental in changing the Chargers playoff fate as they only missed the postseason by one game.
With both corners returning healthy, and excellent free agent additions Jimmy Wilson and Patrick Robinson, the Chargers will have what they haven’t had in a long time, shutdown corners and quality secondary depth. Lest we forget the All-Pro safety anchoring the secondary. We may not like the office politics going on with Eric Weddle, but the one thing we know is he will play like the consummate pro he is and the Chargers will not let him leave as long as franchise tags are still at their disposal.
What this means is San Diego has a defense that is worthy of a top-five ranking if they can stay healthy. Players have to excel on the field or lose their spot. It’s that type of hunger Telesco is cultivating into what will become a culture of winning. This is an exciting defense which can only get better if draftee linebackers Denzel Perryman and Kyle Emmanuel, cornerback Craig Mager and defensive lineman Darius Philon are as good as advertised. From the sounds coming out of camp, they are that and more!
Say what you want about the front office, they have assembled an excellent collection of players in three short seasons and they are ready to make a dynastic run. This defense can be as good as the Ravens of the early 2000’s. I’m calling my shot now before the rest of the world outside San Diego sees it. The holes have been admirably filled. Only one last thing this defense needs…
Purple People Eaters. Monsters of the Midway. Steel Curtain. I’m not saying they will be that great. Yet. They will be crowned with some goofy nickname by Chris Berman or someone in a boardroom in Bristol, Connecticut once the carnage is unleashed and quarterbacks, receivers and running backs league-wide are swallowed whole. Let’s beat the suits to the punch and name the defense ourselves!
Here are my first handful of submissions:
The Blue Crew
What do you guys think? Leave your suggestions with names for the defense below!
The Greg One
On July 14th @ 2:00 pm, City Council will vote to approve $2.1 Million in part to fund an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which is necessary for a stadium vote to take place by January.
If there is a time to attend a rally, this is it. We need all of San Diego out in blue and gold.
The City is quickly advancing with the environmental studies that are required for a public vote in January.
The EIR must be completed and approved by Council no later than October in order to make a January 12 vote possible.
The City is streamlining the EIR process by assigning city staff members to the project in addition to the 60 consultants that would be provided by AECOM.
AECOM provided NFL stadium expertise for Seattle, Miami, Indianapolis, and worked on stadiums for the 2012 London Olympics, 2016 Rio Olympics, and 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Here’s a breakdown of the $2.1 Million expenditure and some background:
Up to $1.2M for consulting firm AECOM
Up to $380,000 for city staff time
Up to $200,000 for conceptual design
Up to $320,000 contingency fund
The total cost will be covered by a $2.1 million one-time payment the city received, as a reimbursement, from the state to cover the city’s costs to comply with some “unfunded” state mandates and new regulations. This will not impact existing budget priorities.
THIS VOTE IS KEY FOR MOVING AHEAD WITH A NEW STADIUM. PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD!
WHAT: Rally before critical City Council stadium vote, then filling the Council Chambers to show support
WHO: All Chargers (and NFL) fans
WHEN: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 1:30 – 2:30 PM
WHERE: Civic Center Plaza (in front of City Hall), 202 C street, San Diego California, 92101
*NOTE: THE VOTE WILL START AT 2:00PM IN THE COUNCIL CHAMBERS (202 C street, 12th floor).
In what is guaranteed to be an awesome event for a great cause, Jason Verrett is teaming up with Strikes For Kids. BoltBlitz.com has been asked to come cover the event. With no hesitation, I humbly accepted. Not only will Verrett be there, but other Chargers will be in attendance, too.
Below you can find all of the details including great gifts for participating in the event and opportunities to win other prizes in the silent auction and raffle.
On behalf of Strikes For Kids I would like to cordially invite you and your friends to participate in The Kaiser Permanente Strikes For Kids SD Bowling Classic. This event will be hosted by Chargers’ standout Jason Verrett, who will be joined by several teammates.
Strikes For Kids is excited to come back to San Diego for our third event. We are very grateful for the amount of support we have received from the community the past two years with our golf tournament. We look forward to continuing to give back to make a difference while having a fun-filled bowling event.
Proceeds from the event will benefit The Strikes For Kids Giveaway Program. The program will award 22 Verrett All-Star kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego with a $100 shopping spree to Toys R Us for their athletic and academic achievements. The event welcomes all ages and skill levels and will take place at Poway Fun Bowl located at (12941 Poway Road Poway, CA 92064) on Tuesday, July 21st from 6:00 P.M to 8:30 P.M.
$35 per spectator: Event shirt, event bag, wristband, raffle and silent auction.
$60 per bowler or $300 per lane for up to six (6) bowlers: Two (2) hours of bowling, bowling rental shoes, bowling towel, event shirt, event bag, one (1) pizza per lane and a pitcher of soda, wristband, raffle and silent auction.
Please consider a tax-deductible sponsorship level in the “become a sponsor” section. If you’re unable to sponsor the event please consider making a donation to the silent auction and/or raffle to show your support.
Strikes For Kids is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization which partners with more than a hundred NFL athletes to benefit youth organizations in communities across the United States. We coordinate bowling, golf and softball events that allow local businesses, fans and the community an opportunity to come together for a fun-filled event while supporting a great cause in the community.
Please feel free to contact me at 559.241.4412 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com you may also contact Tesha Young, Director, Strategic Partnerships at The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego at 858.866.0591 ext. 201 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Thanks in advance for your support!
Joseph Allen, Founder
Strikes For Kids
I strongly encourage all Charger fans to come out for a great night and support an amazing cause. We hope to see you all there.
P.S. Jason Verrett is going to help the Bolts win a lot of football games this year. (My honest opinion: He will be the best cornerback in all of the NFL this year. Book it.)