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Charger Notebook : Rehearsing the Shotgun, Just in Case

Times Staff Writer

Charger center Don Macek has been snapping the ball to quarterback Dan Fouts for six seasons as a starter. Lately, however, some of his practice snaps have been different. They’ve been spirals.

Could the Chargers be thinking of adopting the shotgun offensive formation?

“We’ve been taking some snaps in that formation to see what it looks like,” said Ernie Zampese, the Chargers’ assistant head coach in charge of the passing game. “Then, if we want to incorporate it, we would have practiced it.”

The Chargers have not used the shotgun in the past, and Zampese isn’t sure it would be the best formation for Fouts.

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“He’s a rhythm thrower,” Zampese said, “and I tend to think he might be better off getting the snap from center.”

However, using the shotgun would give Fouts more time to throw and would probably allow him to stay in the pocket longer. As San Diego fans know, rollouts have never been overly popular with the Chargers.

For now, the shotgun is just an idea.

But it’s an idea that has Macek keeping his arm loose.

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The Chargers have not been hit by any serious injuries, but their running backs have suffered numerous bumps and bruises.

Rookie Doug Jefferson is the only running back in camp who is healthy. That, plus some tough running, has enabled the 5-foot 10-inch, 206-pounder from Stephen F. Austin State to impress Coach Don Coryell.

“He’s a tough son of a buck,” Coryell said.

Injury report: Earnest Jackson (toe), Bobby Craighead and Buford McGee (hamstrings), Bill White (ribs), Curtis Adams (wrist), Mark Schellen (bruised thigh) and Anthony Steels (shoulder).

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Coryell on rookie offensive lineman Jim Lachey, the Chargers’ top draft pick, who signed with the club Sunday: “He’s looking very good in the couple of practices he has had. He’s a huge man with fine ability, and he has the ability to play both guard and tackle.”

Versatility is the watchword of the camp. Coryell is trying Lachey at both guard and tackle on the left side of the line.

Coryell said Lachey, who weighed 280 during his playing days as a guard at Ohio State, has gained 10 pounds.

“He’s a big man, " Coryell said, “but there’s no fat there.”

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Wide receiver Wes Chandler has been particularly impressive in camp this week.

“He’s looked fantastic running his pass patterns,” Zampese said.

Coryell on Chandler: “He’s back in the old groove. He’s well this year, not banged up. He got married, which he says is a wonderful thing for him. He’s excited about the season. He’s fired up.”

Talk about being fired up.

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Coryell admits he hasn’t growled much.

“I got a lot of players out there,” he said. “We have 14 draft choices, who are all signed and all here. And we have free agents with a fine opportunity to make the team.”

There is still the prospect of the Chargers signing more players from the United States Football League.

“I hope so,” Coryell said, “but nobody knows if they’ll be free agents or not. Until we know, I don’t think about it . . . Anderson (running back Gary Anderson of the Tampa Bay Bandits) is a fine player, but I don’t even think about having him. If he comes, that’s great. It’s a bonus.”

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