The biggest mystery in San Diego this Spring is the location of the secret
rebel base practices being held by current and free agent San Diego Charger players. Before we start dissecting what we know, we should pause to ask whether or not we should even be asking the question. Do Chargers fans have a right to know the location? Heck no! Do Chargers fans have a right to try to figure it out? Heck yes! But should we?
I would love to go watch one of these practices, but it's also quite obvious that at the moment, the players are valuing their privacy. If the location was made public, there are only two outcomes I can think of; the players would either have to move to a new secret location, or the site would become a circus. From a fan's perspective, this might conceivably be damaging to the upcoming season's results, but it sure would be fun!
After the jump we'll start piecing together what little information we have.
Nick Hardwick had this to say to Darren Smith (hat tip to Darren Smith, Scott Kaplan, and Billy Ray Smith for asking pretty good questions in all these interviews I'm quoting):
"We're flying under the radar right now, so we're not talking about it extensively but we've had good turn outs and we're proud of the work we've put in"
Q: Why so private vs other teams being open?
"Everyone has their own style so we're just trying this on for size and we like the work that's getting done right now, and when nobody's around and it's just you and there's actually no coaches around... it's just us and we're turning this into a really positive thing. And the guys, we're really getting to know each other well...there's different questions asked, different conversations going, with different people, and different groups get together. We're making the most of this and that privacy kind of shields that and it's allowing us to grow and it's good"
Q:Will there be a point where you would be more amenable to having people come and watch?
"Definitely, there's things that need to happen eventually, fans obviously want access to us and we want to reach out to them. There will be a time and we're strategizing right now.. it's in the works."
Q: Some of the fans would be somewhat interested in watching you guys do your thing.
"We're just taking our time and that's basically all we're doing is just taking our time and kind of sheltering this, nurturing it as you may say and there will come a time shortly that we'll open this thing up i imagine"
This sounds to me like they are hoping the lockout ends before they have to get to that point. Either way it's nice for him to make that statement acknowledging fans are interested and engaged during the labor mess.
When asked about Philip Rivers, he had this to say:
"He runs the show every day... He was made for it... It's what we need, it's what he's good at doing, and we're all on board. When he's there the ship is tight"
Speaking of Philip Rivers, he last spoke with Darren Smith in early May. At that point they had been doing workouts for about 6 weeks.
Q: Are these practices Casual/Pickup/Catch or more structured?
"Up to this point it's been the off season program, on Monday we have the conditioning that we do, on Tuesday it's more of the agility thing, ...on Tuesdays and Thursdays, just like we would be at Charger park, we throw... Guys are all out running routes, you know Gatesy was running all of his stuff today and looked awesome. And Mathews is there, Tolbert, like I mentioned Vincent Brown..."
Q: Is this your baby?
"Collectively we're doing it, but I've taken the bull by the horns from a "running the workout" standpoint, from leading the stretch and the warmup to setting up the cones and things like that... "
"Before this all hapenned I made sure I got the workout book that pretty much explained everything to a T of exactly every drill and how to do all of this stuff from a conditioning standpoint..."
Philip also mentioned he has every play the chargers have run in the last three seasons as well as every opponent play he might care about on his computer at home, having loaded up ahead of the lockout.
Steve Gregory (who spoke with Scott and BR) is staying in San Diego and participating.
"We've been going four days a week, we get our run, we get our lift in, the offensive guys get to throw the ball around a little bit and coordinate what they do, and defensively we try to focus on some of our individual techniques and things like that that we can get done as much as possible without having the full team there."
Q:Who's the defensive side leader?
"We've been doing it for a while, we've been through enough offseasons, we have quite a veteran team and the young guys that are around are just following in the older guy's footsteps and we have a structure to how we do things, and it's not hard to get out on the field, as players and just pick up and know what you need to do, to know what you need to get done. Guys take it upon themselves at each individual position to get the guys together and we work toegether to get it done."
Does this make anyone else slightly nervous about the lack of leadership on the defensive side of the ball? Where's the instant name drop of Shaun Phillips or Antonio Garay? I'll give Eric Weddle a pass because of his free agent status. It's probably not a big deal, but it sure would be nice to hear a name jumping off his tongue the way they all do about PR on offense.
Antoine Cason is not shy about the fact that he is not participating...
Q: Are you working out with the collection of chargers players?
"I'm on my own, I do go with a trainer and different guys, it just varies on the day. I still go to the track, I still go to the pool, I still go to the field. I'm just trying to stay prepared trying to keep doing something to get ready for the season."
Q: Why not work out with the team?
"It's not that I do not want to work out with my teammates, I just want to clear the air about that. It's not that I do not want to work out with my teammates, but I know that there's certain things that I need to work on from last year as a player to be a better player this year, and for me to do that I need to do what I need to do to get ready. And I love those guys and I can't wait to get with those guys when we get back with the coaches and organized stuff. I'm working on the things I know I need to work on to be a better teammate and be a better player for my team. It begins to be a touchy subject, but for me I feel good and I know i'm getting better for my teammates, if that helps."
"I work out with Sproles a lot, we're usually together and we do different things to get ready. The Chargers receivers aren't the only receivers in town right now so there's definitely guys to work out with, and you can reach out to different guys and if your schedules don't match up, it just depends on whose available and whose not. But if I know I'm getting the work that i need to get in to cover someone then I feel ok about that."
It sounds like some player or players have been giving Cason grief about his decision. I can respect his choice and totally buy his reasoning. I can see a much better case for offensive players benefitting from getting together anyway.
So BFTB readers, do you have any rumors, tips, or
stalkings sightings to chip in?