Spikes is an inside linebacker and tackling machine coming over from the
49ers. That Spikes turns 35 this season might be a red flag. But he played last
year for coordinator Greg Manusky, who is now handling that responsibility with
the Chargers. It figures if Spikes' tank was tapped, Manusky would know about

-- Things aren't as big a mystery on offense; the Chargers seem primed to
pick up where leaving off -- at one point last year Philip Rivers was
challenging the 5,000-yard passing mark. Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson
is signed; running back Ryan Mathews should be better in his second year; Mike
Tolbert should build on his coming out season of last year; tight end Antonio
Gates is among the league's best at his position; the starting five offensive
linemen are back.

-- Running back Ryan Mathews needs to prove that he gets it. Chargers
coaches grew frustrated last year when, as a rookie, Mathews struggled to pick
up pass protections and other nuances of the pro game. Then he showed up at
camp, went through drills and was obviously not in the proper physical

-- Good line from coach Norv Turner, when greeting the San Diego media in
his press conference to kick off training camp. "I probably should repeat what I
told a number of our players," Turner said, with the timing of a comedian. "With