It was only a week ago that they were prospects eager to find out what their NFL future had in store.
Now, the Chargers rookie class has settled into San Diego and is ready to take part in a vital three-day rookie minicamp beginning Friday. The entire class will be at Chargers Park except for seventh-round pick Tevin Reese, who is returning to Baylor over the weekend to graduate.
Ladarius Green’s rookie minicamp was two years ago, but he remembers it like it was yesterday. Looking back, he also realizes that it was a significant step in his development.
“That was a very important week for me,” he recalled. “It was a very valuable experience. We not only learned the plays but got to (perform) against tough competition. It was also my first chance to prove myself in front of the coaches. So, it was a very valuable minicamp.”
Veterans like Green have hammered home to their new teammates the importance of the next three days. The coaches have done the exact same thing, and their message has been received loud and clear.
“They’ve told us how this is a big step,” said Chris Watt. “It’s been a while since we’ve played, so it will be good to get our feet underneath us and get into football shape. It’s going to be tough. There are not going to be a ton of guys out there, so it’s going to be mentally and physically draining. But that will help us in the end.”
Like Watt explained, the rookies were warned it won’t necessarily be a smooth ride the entire time. It’s never easy to play in a new system next to new teammates, especially when it is their first time on the football field in nearly half a year. Still, many of the rookies are embracing the tough portions as well, knowing it will make them stronger in the end.
“The veterans said it could get rough sometimes,” explained Ryan Carrethers. “It could get rough in the sense that it is the first time we’re out on the field in a while and as a team. And for me, I’m the only one at my position. But, that means it is a great opportunity. All eyes will be on me and it will be really helpful.”
When veteran minicamp and OTA’s begin in the coming weeks there will be 90 players on the field. Having significantly fewer numbers on the field this weekend will provide ample time for more one-on-one instruction. It’s imperative the rookies learn quickly because once the veterans join in, they will be expected to keep up at the same pace.
“I’m looking forward to learning more about the plays,” said Marion Grice. “I want to understand and learn more of the concepts behind the offense. I want to learn about everything, and this will be a great opportunity. It’s like a crash course.”
Finally, rookie minicamp is another significant milestone for these young players, as it marks the first time they get to don an NFL uniform.
“It’s going to be very special to wear this uniform with pride,” said Watt. “I get to put this helmet on with the Chargers logo, and it will be something I will always remember. It’s an honor.”