Chargers : Saunders Talks Earl Wilson Into Joining Camp

Times Staff Writer

For the first time in 1987, defensive end Earl Wilson was seen and heard.

"Did you hear Earl growl?!" teammate Tony Simmons asked. "Did you hear him growl?! Grrrrrrrrr! I heard him."

They also heard him panting after Tuesday afternoon's workout. Wilson, who signed a contract on Monday, weighed more than 300 pounds and was called "out of shape" by a couple of coaches. But he was there.

He was brought there by Coach Al Saunders, who visited Wilson's hotel room Tuesday morning, gave him a pep talk and chauffeured him to training camp that afternoon.

Wilson was supposed to have been in camp Monday night, but he said he was too busy to come.

With what? Well, he said he had to pack his clothes. He said his clothes were scattered "here and there," and he had to pick them up from several of his friends. Also, he said he wanted to talk to Saunders about his role with the team. With starting right end Leslie O'Neal injured, that role could be as big as Wilson's waistline. That's why Saunders went over to Wilson's hotel.

"(Saunders) talked to me about what he expected from me this season and what he expected in training camp," Wilson said. "He expected the same things I expected from myself. We got it ironed out."

Saunders said: "This is a people's business, and I think it's important that when someone needs to talk to you, you are there. I like Earl."

Saunders wouldn't name any of Wilson's specific gripes, but Wilson said it bothered him last weekend when he called the Chargers for three tickets to the Dallas game and was turned down.

Nonetheless, he impressed defensive line coach Gunther Cunningham during Tuesday's workout. Cunningham wants Wilson down to 280 pounds and wants to sweat the weight off of him. So he said Wilson will play in Sunday night's Ram game.

"He needs to get in shape," Cunningham said. "He's not at the stage we need him to be, and he knows that. Actually, I used him more than I thought I would (during practice), but, man, I was so excited to have him there. Did you see his quick feet? Did you see his quick hands? Did you hear him?"

Charger Notes

The agent for Washington Redskin quarterback Doug Williams said Tuesday that Williams wants to be traded to the Chargers or the Raiders--teams with apparent quarterback problems. Williams' agent, Steve Feldman, also represents unsigned Charger linebacker Thomas Benson. Steve Ortmayer, the director of football operations, will not comment on possible trades, but Roger Theder, the Charger quarterback coach, was the offensive coordinator with the USFL's Arizona Outlaws two years ago when Williams was there and has said he likes Williams. Bobby Beathard, Redskin general manager, was unavailable for comment Tuesday, but Feldman said the Redskins would probably seek a No. 1 or No. 2 draft choice in return for Williams, 32. Williams is currently competing with Mark Rypien, a rookie from Washington State, for the backup quarterback spot.

Feldman also said the Chargers have promised him they will try to trade Benson. According to a source, the Chargers are offering Benson a three-year deal worth $225,000 in 1987, $250,000 in 1988 and $275,000 in 1989. Benson, according to that same source, wants at least $300,000 this season.

The Chargers waived punter Jeff Hayes and running back Jeff Powell. Hayes was here as a favor to special teams coach Wayne Sevier, who used to coach Hayes with the Washington Redskins.

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