SAN DIEGO — It’s June again at Chargers Park and weren’t we at this spot this time last year?
Yes and yes.
The San Diego Chargers are back at it in Week 2 of OTAs, running around in shorts and T-shirts in the warm San Diego sun. That’s familiar.
But so is free safety Eric Weddle getting ready to help mold another secondary, and didn’t he try to do the same thing last June?
Weddle is back and that’s a good thing in a bad secondary. The Chargers’ pass defense was last in the AFC in 2013, so they got busy fixing it.
Last June, the Chargers were introducing pricey free-agent pickup Derek Cox. The former Jaguars cornerback was going to mesh into a messy defensive backfield that was picked on with regularity. But Cox was a bust and he’s gone.
Instead the Chargers had to burn their first-round pick on TCU’s Jason Verrett. They’re hoping he can blend in with returners Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall, and that strong safety Jahleel Addae continues to grow.
Which circles us back to Weddle, the lone constant in a secondary that seems to constantly be under construction. So while some might scoff at these OTAs with the pads locked safely away, don’t sell them short to Weddle.
“Overrated, who said they are overrated?” asked Weddle, the team’s lone Pro Bowler on the defensive side. “No, they’re important to get to what you want to become. Any time you can practice it is important. it’s better than running and lifting.”
Too bad Verrett isn’t running. He’s still mending from shoulder surgery and has yet to participate in the team drills. But he’s got Weddle in his ear, and Verrett isn’t alone.
“I’ve always been outspoken, always been willing to help anybody and everybody, including myself needing help,” Weddle said. “It benefits myself helping other guys out because it refreshes my memory on everyone else’s position.”
So Weddle is playing and preaching, and he would have it no other way.
“I give them any kind of information or guidance that I see fit,” he said. “Especially for younger guys, in a sense when it’s coming from a player I can maybe get across differently than a coach.
“A coach is direct and says it one way. Maybe someone else voicing it and giving it a different angle and seeing it from a different viewpoint may help them.”
His view on OTAs? Bring ‘em on.
“The more time you can get on the field together,” Weddle said, “it benefits you greatly heading into training camp.”
Player with the most to prove: Cornerback Steve Williams
The Chargers are desperate to shore up their secondary and wouldn’t it be keen if Williams helped fill that void?
Much was expected from Williams last year when he was drafted in the fifth round out of California. Instead it was his Cal teammate, wide receiver Keenan Allen, making a name for himself. Williams’ rookie year was a washout as he suffered a pectoral injury in the second preseason game and was lost for the season.
But there he was on Monday, wrestling with Allen for balls on various routes, and better yet, winning. Allen said Williams humbled him on a couple of occasions with his coverage.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Williams needs to show he still has his skills to get back in the mix. The Chargers have Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall back as starters, and drafted TCU’s Jason Verrett in the first round.
But coach Mike McCoy has shown he’s apt to change direction quickly if a player shows him it’s warranted. Williams, a team MVP at Cal, needs to get his career back on track and that starts with the OTAs.