Of the 22 players on the football field and of the 60-plus gathered around, no one had been in this position more than Philip Rivers.
Under center, helmet, jersey and shorts on, Rivers was on the field Tuesday, preparing, once again, to lead the Chargers. He’s been in the meeting rooms, on the field in individual drills and in the weight room. He’s been doing everything to get ready for a season that doesn’t begin for months.
And, he’s doing it for the 14th straight year.
A lesson from former Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, though, has helped Rivers not just get through the grind of offseason workouts, it’s helped him actually enjoy it.
“I had a coach tell me early on ‘Don’t get bored. Don’t get bored with completions. Don’t get bored with the little things,’” Rivers said after the Chargers OTA Tuesday in San Diego. “I have to remind myself of that.”
All those walkthroughs, all those drills, all those meetings, after years of them, Rivers still relies on the fuel competition provides to get him through it.
“I think the competition part of it — having the third-down period against the defense and wanting to convert every one of them,” Rivers said. “…That, for me, is the part I’ve always loved, to come out and compete, whether it’s against other quarterbacks throwing it into a net or in the team drills.”
Rivers’ willingness to work whether its June or September has been something that had been advertised to Chargers coach Anthony Lynn.
“It’s everything that I’ve always heard,” Lynn said. “He’s very passionate about this game and he takes it seriously. He doesn’t take anything for granted. That’s the way he practices, and that’s the way he plays.”
Rivers said his emphasis for this season is to cut down on turnovers, something he’s always prided himself on. But, over the past three years, the team’s been a little loose with the ball, Rivers included.
Three seasons ago, Rivers threw 18 passes that were intercepted , and last year, he led the NFL with a career-high 21 picks.
While each turnover, Rivers said, comes with its own story as to how and why it occurred, ultimately, much of that responsibility falls on him.
“I know it’s something if I do a heck of a job taking care of the football — and I am going to touch it every play — if I do that, it gives our team the best chance at being successful,” he said.
So, this summer, he’s set goals for how many interceptions he’s willing to tolerate during OTAs, while trying not to be bored with the simple out routes and check downs.
Rivers won’t play “scared,” he said, especially in practice, but it’s important to the team that good habits are being formed. And it’s important for Rivers to be competing, even if it’s with himself.
Near the end of practice, Rivers took a snap and waited in the pocket for a receiver to flash open. And instead of forcing a ball, instead of giving a defensive back a reason to celebrate, Rivers slipped through the offensive line and scrambled for a gain.
While his teammates slapped him on the helmet, he probably thought to himself, “This isn’t boring at all.”
Williams sits again
Rivers and Lynn are still waiting for first-round pick Mike Williams to get on the field to work with the offense, as his lower back issues have persisted for a second week in a row.
“He has some back tightness still,” Lynn said. “We’re just holding him out for the rest of this week. I’d like to see him out there next week because he’s getting behind right now, and we’ve got to get him back out on the field.”
All the mental reps and meeting time in the world just don’t simulate enough of what Williams will be asked to do as a professional this season.
“If he wasn’t a rookie it would be different,” Lynn said. “But he has so much to learn, and some of this you can only learn on the field.”
Lynn said he hoped Williams could be on the field with the team in two weeks when they gather for their third and final set of OTAs.
Lynn said wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, who underwent surgery for a sports hernia last week, will be “pretty close” to 100% for the start of training camp. … Defensive back Casey Hayward didn’t move laterally during Tuesday’s workout as he nurses an ankle injury from last week. …Lynn said the team is evaluating rookie kicker Younghoe Koo and rookie punter Toby Baker as possible replacements for Josh Lambo and Drew Kaser. “We’re competing,” Lynn said. …Rivers and Lynn said they weren’t concerned with the postponement of the opening of the stadium in Inglewood. “Whether we play another year in Carson, that doesn’t matter to me,” Lynn said. “If it takes them more time to build the best facility in the country, then so be it.”