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Chargers camp takeaways: Gordon's turnaround

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers are turning the page on a disappointing 2015 season -- a year that featured a plethora of injuries and a dismal 4-12 finish. The Chargers are hoping to make some noise in the AFC West and topple the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Here's what we learned from Chargers training camp:

  1. Cards come to town. The Chargers will host the Arizona Cardinals for a pair of joint practices on Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of Friday's preseason tilt between the two clubs. Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said the joint workouts, which have been in the works for a few years, will be uptempo and a "nice break-up of camp." Though other clubs have engaged in scuffles in recent weeks during joint sessions, McCoy said he's not concerned and the team is focused on cleaning up mistakes made in their preseason opener in Tennessee. McCoy added: "Each individual person is coming out trying to get better at something and I think it will be a great measuring stick for us against a very good football team that's well coached."
  1. Flash Gordon. Running back Melvin Gordon said he feels more confident and comfortable entering Year 2 of his pro career. Gordon said it's a 180 from his rookie season.

"I remember the first play I ran. In my head I was thinking about how fast the linemen were, I didn't even look at my read," Gordon said. "I was just like 'Wow these guys' the whole time while I'm running the play. This time I was comfortable and stuck to my reads. I told myself -- I was obviously nervous the whole trip there, but I told myself 'you go against a lot of great players in practice and you had a whole season so just be calm and read the reads and follow your lineman.'"

Gordon scored a touchdown against the Titans last week -- though it doesn't count as his first official TD, since it's the preseason. It's the first time Gordon has entered the end zone since his college days at Wisconsin. Gordon said the touchdown "felt good" and added that he's eager to get that feeling once again.

  1. Position battles all around. The Chargers' roster boasts 37 new players, eight of whom were selected in the draft. McCoy said the competition level team-wide is the best it's been in his four seasons with the club. He said competition will make the players better. "Some people get pushed aside in competition and certain players rise up, and that's what you want," McCoy said.
  1. Rookie TE impresses. Second-round pick Hunter Henry has made a strong first impression with the Chargers' staff. Though Henry is still adjusting to the speed of the game, working with a new signal-caller and route techniques, he's already proven his potential. But will Henry fulfill ex-Charger Ladarius Green's former role? Don't count on it. McCoy said Henry will have an influential role within the offense but one that the TE has "created for himself." Working with veteran Antonio Gates, whom McCoy called "one of the best of all-time," isn't a bad assignment for a rookie.
  1. Veteran leaders on the line. Among the team's key offseason acquisitions were center Matt Slauson and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. Those additions have already paid dividends. Slauson and Mebane's veteran leadership and professionalism have not gone unnoticed. Having Slauson under center bodes well for Gordon and a sometimes hasty offensive line. Slauson is "a hard worker, he's a great leader," Gordon said. "I think he added definite leadership to the room. He's got those guys working -- I'm not saying those guys wouldn't work if he wasn't here but I think he's a big help."
  1. Injury report. The team placed nose tackle Sean Lissemore (shoulder) and wide receiver Stevie Johnson (knee) on injured reserve Monday.
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