The Coast News Group

Jay Paris: Summer is here and so are the Chargers

One doesn’t meet many North County folks in a rush to push summer aside.

Why would they with the pleasant weather, the ocean warm and the season’s laid-back vibe as evident as the sunshine?

But the sports calendar waits for no one.

While we salute summer, we tip our cap to the realization that the NFL is back.

Yep, the sport that hogs fall, winter and parts of the spring is ready for its close-up.

The Chargers open training camp next week and I have no idea if it’s their last one here or not.

While our focus is on football the big picture shows a struggling franchise channeling Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz.” The Chargers claim there is no place like home and they want their new digs to be downtown.

The votes to shovel tax money toward that endeavor aren’t counted until November. We’ll let the political junkies hammer that out while we look toward the field.

Last year was a field of screams for the Chargers as they absorbed one injury after another. Even in the rough-and-tumble NFL world, it seemed the Chargers clogged the trainer’s room more than others.

Still an NFL coach once told me: Citing injuries for a team’s lack of success is the first exit on the highway of excuses.

So we won’t look back, only forward and there’s plenty to see.

The last-place Chargers seek to rebound from being 4-12. While their hill to climb has plenty of incline, a reversal of fortune isn’t far-fetched.

“We’ve done it before,’’ Philip Rivers said. “I don’t see why we can’t do it again.’’’

Old Man Rivers, 34, is among the few Chargers still around that can say that with a straight face. The 2004 Chargers were 12-4, one season after their record showed the opposite.

It can happen and with the Chargers’ offseason moves, maybe last year’s flop gets flipped as well.

Rivers returns and that’s always a plus. And the Chargers delivered two new targets in speedster Travis Benjamin and rookie Henry Hunter.

The offensive line is around and as of yet, no one has summoned for the team doctor. Twenty-four big bodies were shuffled in and out on the line last year and no way that gets repeated. The signing of veteran center Matt Slauson is keen.

Melvin Gordon? Last year’s flashy rookie promises this season won’t mimic 2015. The Chargers drafted fullback Derek Watt to give Gordon, and the running game, a boost.

Joey Bosa is the positive charge on defense and he’ll play, right? Bosa is holding out, but text us when he misses significant snaps.

Quickly, you can see Brandon Mebane is legit. The defensive tackle that fled Seattle teams with Corey Liuget and Bosa, at some point, to form a solid line.

The linebackers swear the run defense is no longer a liability. Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman man the inside spots and with Mebane engaging blockers, those two should shine.

The secondary shows promise but only by the hair of its chinny, chin, chin. Yeah, we’re going to miss Eric Weddle’s beard, too, and how the back end responds with new parts is something to watch.

Us locals will continue straining to spot another sparkling sunset. But when seeking green flashes, know that the sun is rising on another Chargers season.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.

Chargers training camp practices open to the public

July 30: 9:30 to 11:25 a.m.

July 31: 3 to 5p.m.

Aug. 1: 9:30 to 11:25 a.m.

Aug. 4: 9:30 to 11:25 a.m.

Aug. 5: 3 to 5 p.m.

Aug. 6: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — FanFest at Qualcomm Stadium

Aug. 8: 3 to 5 p.m.

Aug. 10: 3 to 5 p.m.

Aug. 11: 9:30 to 11:25 a.m.

Aug. 15: 3 to 5 p.m.

Aug. 16: 6 to 8 p.m. — Workout with Arizona Cardinals at Qualcomm Stadium