The gigantic human beings that represent the Chargers have their shoes and socks piled in the corner of the field. They’re taking part in the team’s voluntary offseason workouts at Chargers Park and, for the time being, they’re doing it barefoot.
Monday marked the start of the second week of these workouts, and the shoes, like they were on the first day, remained off.
For some, it’s a bizarre request from new strength and conditioning coach John Lott. For others, such as cornerback Casey Hayward, it doesn’t require much thought — just unlace and do what you’re told.
But for veteran safety Dwight Lowery, there’s interest in the methodology.
If you needed any clues as to how interested Lowery, 31, is in his body, you don’t need to look past his arms, which are muscular enough to stand out on a professional football field.
And to him, the barefoot training really makes sense.
“In terms of strengthening and stretching, the feet don’t get enough attention as maybe they should,” Lowery said. “And, they’re really the foundation of your body.”
The thought process, he explained, is that stronger, more flexible feet can reduce lower-body injuries, and anything that can reduce injuries should be probably be explored. Last season, the team had a league-leading 20 players end up on the injured reserve list.
“It just felt like a huge issue,” Lowery said.
With the hope of focusing more on injury prevention than on injury treatment, the team turned to Lott this offseason, and in the early parts of the offseason coach Anthony Lynn has referred to it as Lott’s team.
“Conditioning is going to be the No. 1 priority for us in the first two or three weeks. We want to build a base so when we start doing real football stuff — cuts, explosive movements — we can do those things without getting hurt,” he said at the NFL owners meetings in late March. “I think a lot of guys today train position-specific too much. I want to go back to base training — 300s, 400s, working in some distance with our conditioning.”
Wide receiver Keenan Allen said he and his teammates had a tough conditioning day Monday, but for him, it’s just good to be on the field.
After suffering a season-ending knee injury in the season opener last year, Allen has been on a long path of rehabilitation, a path that should have him ready when training camp opens this summer.
“I feel amazing — no pain, no aches,” Allen said. “Rehab is going good. I’m just trying to keep it going.”
The injuries last season decimated the Chargers, forcing backups into starting roles and forcing third-stringers into important roles.
It’s part of the reason why Lowery isn’t against the Chargers drafting a safety in the first round of the upcoming draft — a position they’ve been linked to in the majority of mock drafts in the last few months.
“The truth is, I’m not playing this game forever. And, I’m more towards the end than the beginning. I feel like it’s only natural for that transition to occur,” Lowery said. “If there’s someone that they like, then there’s someone who they like. Regardless of who starts and plays, one thing that you need in the NFL on a consistent basis is depth. If you don’t have depth, as we’ve seen with this team the past couple of years, you give yourself that much less of a chance to getting into the tournament.”
Preseason schedule announced
In the interest of fun scheduling (and lowered travel costs), the Chargers and the Rams will meet for the first time as Angelenos in Week 3 of the preseason.
The game, which will be televised nationally on CBS, will take place Aug. 26 at 5 p.m. in the Coliseum.
The Rams will be seeking revenge from a 40-16 drubbing given to them by the Chargers the last time the teams met in the Coliseum — in 1979.
The Chargers will face Seattle and New Orleans at StubHub Center in their first two preseason games before traveling to the Coliseum and then on to San Francisco to wrap up the preseason. Times and dates for those three games haven’t been announced.
“It’s an exciting preseason for us,” quarterback Philip Rivers said in a statement. “We start right off the bat at home with Seattle and then New Orleans. Those two games will give us a feel for our new home. We can learn the routine and what the atmosphere will be like at StubHub Center.”
Defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram weren’t on the field for the defensive conditioning drills during Monday’s voluntary workouts. Ingram still hasn’t signed his franchise tag with the team. …Offensive tackle Russell Okung said Chargers running back Melvin Gordon reminds him of his former teammate in Seattle, Marshawn Lynch.