SAN DIEGO — Chargers coach Mike McCoy caught himself while talking about the opening practice of training camp.
"It sure is nice to get back on the field with everybody and get all 90 guys — or 89, I should say — out here practicing," McCoy said Saturday.
The one missing, of course, is first-round draft pick Joey Bosa. He remains unsigned due to a dispute over how his signing bonus will be disbursed.
"He definitely needs to be out here as a rookie," McCoy said. "We'll just keep on working at that and eventually it'll be done. He needs to be here, especially as a younger player, with installations and playing with your teammates and things like that. We're going to coach the ones who are here."
Until Bosa signs, other young players will have to take advantage of increased practice time.
"You've got to make the most of every single opportunity," McCoy said. "When he gets back, someone's reps are going to get cut back, so it's an important couple of days for some younger players to step in and do their job."
One of Bosa's agents, Tom Condon, has sparred with the Chargers before, most famously in 2004 when he told them the Manning family preferred that they not take Eli with the first pick in the draft. The Chargers did anyway, and then traded Manning to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers. Other big-name Condon clients LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees and
The Chargers are trying to bounce back from a 4-12 season that included losing every game against AFC West rivals.
They also hope to play well before Election Day, when voters will be asked to approve an increase in the hotel tax to help pay for a new downtown stadium. The measure is considered a longshot, especially in the wake of team chairman Dean Spanos' failed attempt to move to Los Angeles and build a new stadium with the rival Oakland Raiders.
McCoy defended Melvin Gordon when asked the difference in the running back from the end of last season, which ended with a knee injury that required microfracture surgery. Gordon, San Diego's first-round draft pick in 2015, failed to score a touchdown or have a 100-yard game. He lost four of his six fumbles and was benched twice.
"I'm going to make one thing clear about Melvin — t's not Melvin Gordon, the running game," McCoy said. "Let's make that clear right now. I want to stop talking about him individually and things like that. In order for Melvin Gordon to have success in our system, OK,, the other 10 guys have to do their jobs better. And Melvin's got to do his job better. He'll tell you some things he has to clean up. But I get a little sick of talking about just one guy on offense when here are 10 other guys out there. I want to make sure from Day One the entire team has got to run the ball better and we've got to do a better job on defense on stopping the run. But he looked great today."
McCoy said he was "very pleased where he is in his attitude, his mindset, but really looking forward to seeing him play this year."
Gordon said he feels more confident about himself and the playbook.
Gordon worked out in Houston with, among others, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings.
Gordon said he tries not to think of his knee.
"I'm just at the point right now. I'm just trying to get better for the team. I'm not thinking about any of that." He said.