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CHARGER NOTEBOOK / KIM Q. BERKSHIRE : Longshots Make Impression on Henning

Some fringe players have caught the eye of Charger management enough that their places on the roster should be secure when the final cut to 47 players comes Tuesday.

Nevada-Reno’s Henry Rolling, a free-agent linebacker who played in parts of the 1988 and 1989 seasons for Tampa Bay, has made some kind of impression on Coach Dan Henning.

“I really like this Rolling,” Henning said on the day the Chargers broke camp at UC San Diego and moved their belonging out of the dorm there. “He looks like a pretty good linebacker to me.

“He’s a very pleasant surprise. When you get a guy like him from another team, who has tools and intelligence, you always wonder, ‘Hey, something’s wrong. Why’s he here?’ He’s certainly passed the test of training camp.”

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Another defensive player who has made the Chargers do double- and triple-takes is cornerback Donald Frank, a rookie free agent who started last Saturday against the 49ers in place of Gill Byrd.

Henning said Frank, out of Winston-Salem State, has been a highlight of camp but not the biggest surprise.

“Donald has shown up to be pretty capable in the secondary,” Henning said. “He has a long way to go, but while he’s getting there, he’s going to help us.”

Another presence is cornerback Joe Fuller of Northern Iowa, a sixth-round draft pick who intercepted a pass by Joe Montana in the Chargers’ 29-28 victory over San Francisco.

“Defensively, (Frank and Fuller) are coming along,” Beathard said. “The coaches certainly feel they’re better than the backups last year.”

Special teams have improved dramatically, and Henning said some players on the borderline have made sparkling special teams plays to draw attention.

“We’re much more stable in the special teams than we were,” he said. “Of course, we picked up some different people than we had last year in the same spots. They’re smarter, they’re younger, their quicker.”

Nate Lewis, a wide receiver out of Oregon Tech, has done a fine job on kick returns.

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“He has come on pretty strong in this camp,” Henning said. “I was disappointed with him in Phoenix (during scrimmages), but he’s been looking good in practice.”

General Manager Bobby Beathard was talking about the first-year players, the rookies, the unproven and how some players who seem to be goners could change coaches’ minds either during the little remaining pre-cut practice time or Saturday’s exhibition finale against the Raiders in the Coliseum.

“Some kids are still coming up, some kids have leveled off, and some kids are on their way down,” he said. “But this is their last test, and I hate to write them off.”

While the Chargers try and address the areas that need the most improvement, there’s a certain fire that can sometimes make up for little deficiencies.

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“There are still a lot of questions,” Beathard said, “but they’ve played well. There’s a lot of spirit. Sometimes when you have a lot of spirit and you play hard--that goes not just the Chargers but for any team--you cover up some weaknesses sometimes.”

Charger Notes

Make way: Wide receiver Elliott Searcy was waived Wednesday to make room on the 60-man roster for offensive guard Mike Zandofsky, who was acquired Tuesday from Phoenix for a low draft choice. Zandofsky was expected to join the team late Wednesday . . . Despite losing 35 pounds in the off-season, Coach Dan Henning will dream of the training table offerings, especially the giant-sized chocolate chip cookies. “I’m going to miss you boys,” he said as he munched his last cookie of training camp 1990.


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