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Free Agents Fitting in Nicely for Bolts

Posted Apr 19, 2013

Free agent acquisitions like Danny Woodhead and Derek Cox are acclimating themselves to life as a San Diego Charger.

Stepping into new surroundings is a difficult task, whether it be starting a new job, meeting new people or moving to a new town.

For the new Chargers added this offseason via free agency, they have to deal with all three of those situations head on.

So far, they are assimilating themselves quite nicely.

 “They’ve done a great job,” Head Coach Mike McCoy said of the free agents. “I think it goes back to the comment earlier of the last couple weeks of really teaching the players the way we want to do things here and we’re just scratching the surface on what we’re going to do. It’s really just the base things we’re doing, but they’ve done a nice job of stepping in and building and fitting into the locker room accordingly and just building the team.”

Derek Cox is one such free agent, joining the team after spending his first four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. One thing in particular caught the cornerback’s eye once he stepped foot inside the Chargers’ locker room – the team’s high expectations and desire to build a winning football team.

“Coming from the situation that especially I was in, we had some tough seasons where I was at,” said Cox.  “Coming here it’s already been a different vibe from the guys and the organization.  You’re 7-9 and they are upset and you should be. In Jacksonville, you won two games. And I’m like ‘Hey, these guys won seven, that sounds pretty good.’  That’s a bad mentality developed being over there. It is refreshing to be here and be with guys (who) aren’t used to losing. This team is striving to win the AFC West. It’s something they have done time and time again so that’s what they want to get back to. That energy is refreshing for me. It’s like I’m a winner and that’s what I want to be a part of. I’m happy being here.”

Cox is also happy with the way he’s integrated himself in the locker room so far, especially with his fellow defensive backs.

“It’s been a real smooth transition,” he said. “The defensive backs room is great.  They welcomed me in immediately. Everybody’s been open and it’s been an easy transition. In camp, I’m looking for improving my own performance. I look at it as an opportunity to get better and as well show my teammates what I’m capable of because not only do I want them comfortable with me but you want that trust in you.”

While joining the Chargers is the first time Cox has changed teams in the NFL, San Diego is the third franchise for newly acquired running back Danny Woodhead.  So what’s the hardest transition for him in joining the Chargers from the New England Patriots?

“The biggest thing is trying to find out where I’m going to move all of my stuff,” he joked, before getting serious. “You know, every place is going to have things that are similar and different. You just got to go in and embrace everything. You have to buy into what Coach McCoy is doing. We have to all believe in each other and trust in each other. I think with everyone on the same page that makes a team. This game, it’s a team game.  There are no individuals.  If (we) want to be great, we have to start out by being a team.”

Coming from a team with one of the most successful quarterbacks in recent years, Tom Brady, the natural inclination is to compare him with his new QB, Philip Rivers.  But that’s not something Woodhead is interested in.

“Honestly, Philip wants to win,” said Woodhead.  “He’s a competitor. It’s hard to compare them. I’m not into that. Philip obviously is the quarterback here. That’s what I’m focused on. He’s a great leader. He’s someone who does his job very well.”

Whether you are a free agent acquisition or a 10-year veteran, the job for the entire Chargers squad is to come together as one cohesive team.

“Hopefully, every single day whether it is the OTAs coming up or the Mini Camp before Training Camp, hopefully every single time when we’re together, we’re going to be a little bit crisper,” said Woodhead. “That means we’re getting better as a team.   Our number one hope is to get better as a team every single day. Make this a team and a team that can compete.”

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