Ben on the Bolts: The first five days

SAN DIEGO - We’ve barely scratched the surface of training camp, and the regular season opener is still almost six weeks away, but the Chargers appear to be off to a good start. Here are three of my initial impressions of the first five days of camp:

The difference on the outside between last year and this year is huge. A year ago, the Chargers were dealing with a devastating injury to Danario Alexander and would lose another wide receiver, Malcom Floyd, in Week 2. The cornerback situation was dreadful, as free agent Derek Cox was a disaster from the beginning. This year, the competition on the outside is fierce. Philip Rivers says it has “gone to an all-new level.”

At receiver, Floyd is back, along with last year’s rookie sensation Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal. Free agent Brandon Flowers seems to have brought a new swagger to a secondary that also includes first round draft pick Jason Verrett. The cornerbacks may prove to be the most improved unit on the team.

Mike McCoy knows what he’s doing. If it wasn’t already clear last year, it’s now obvious that this is McCoy’s team, 100 percent. With players already familiar with his system and terminology, McCoy has been able to pick up the pace at practice and is operating with a genuine confidence in his second training camp. He’s making his players work hard, but giving them rest when necessary. So far, his ear for what his team needs seems to be pitch perfect. We’ll see how much offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is missed once the season starts, but right now, McCoy is operating without training wheels and appears to be steady as a mule.

The Chargers believe in themselves. The national media may not be picking the team to win the division or even make a repeat trip to the playoffs, but the players sense something special could be in the works. Veterans are feeding off each other and attempting to inspire younger players to greatness. Dwight Freeney didn’t come back to pick up a paycheck -- but to win another Super Bowl title -- and the linebacker thinks the Chargers have the players to get it done. Sure, they’ll need a lot of good health and luck on their side…but so does any other team hoping to lift the Lombardi Trophy in February.

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