It’s a summer tradition in these parts, going nicely with long days and sweet sunsets.
It’s July, the month when Padres fans’ patience has been tested, the promise of another season washed away in a sea of shutouts.
Those taught to keep the faith question their beliefs, and much like Charlie Brown trusting Lucy to hold the football just right, they’ve been snookered once again.
So with Padres patrons looking to punt, did someone actually say “football?”
Yep, the American kind, World Cup breath, which is a breath of fresh air to those digging the Chargers.
Remember them? When last seen they were plopping a bow on a stellar season, even if it ended in Denver with the Broncos eliminating the Chargers in the playoffs.
That the Chargers, after stumbling to 5-7, reached January was a victory in itself.
Especially with general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy being NFL newbies on their posts.
“We’re a lot more comfortable this year,’’ McCoy said. “Everyone knows what’s expected.’’
Those dejected with the Padres can turn their attention to the Bolts.
The players report to training camp on Wednesday, with the full squad practicing the following day at Chargers Park.
Unlike last summer, Telesco didn’t hose down the roster like we once did with our driveways before the drought. He tinkered here, adjusted there, and we’ll see how his handiwork plays when the curtain is raised in Arizona, Sept. 8.
But first comes camp, where the temperatures are hot, the players are grumpy and the fans have a blast.
I love this point in the NFL calendar but not so much for the football. The practices are tedious and there’s so many players before the cuts, one gets lost in the mass of sweating bodies.
Still, there’s always a surprise — someone not supposed to make the roster and he does.
There’s always an injury — something that wasn’t supposed to happen and it does.
But what’s best are the Bolts’ backers making the trek to camp, getting to see their favorites up close.
Let’s face it, attending an NFL game can derail a budget and many blue-collar folks can’t afford it.
That’s why camp is keen, when they pry loose the gates to everyone and fans of all economical backgrounds blend together, producing a mixture of enthusiasm and appreciation.
Kudos to the Chargers for running a good show when unlocking the doors. Although nothing matches those idyllic days at UC San Diego, where every practice was open and the afternoon breeze soothed the aching muscles and fueled the coming season’s optimism.
But Chargers Park is cool, especially if it’s the only time many see the big boys up close.
When eyeing the field keep three positions in mind, issues needing to be addressed over the next six weeks:
• Defensive back: The Chargers were dreadful defending the pass in 2013, not good in a passing league.
So they burned their top pick on TCU’s Jason Verrett and signed free-agent Brandon Flowers.
But Verrett missed most the offseason workouts with a bum shoulder and if Flowers was so good, why didn’t the Chiefs bring him back?
Those two, though, are an upgrade and will boost the defensive back end. The question is how quickly can the get up to speed?
• Outside linebacker: Melvin Ingram is no longer of wounded knee, and that’s a plus. Dwight Freeney is bound for the Hall of Fame, but does he have one more productive season remaining before reaching Canton? Can Jerry Attaochu, a third-rounder from Georgia Tech, wreck havoc? If these guys can meet at the pocket, the secondary will be ever-so-thankful.
• Wide receiver: Keenan Allen was a third-round steal last year, but he’ll no longer fly under that radar. Can his game continue to elevate with more attention paid to him by defenses? Opposite Allen is Malcom Floyd, already a feel-good camp story by rebounding from last year’s serious neck injury. But he’s yet to absorb a significant hit and relying on him for 16 games is a stretch. Eddie Royal is in the slot, but Vincent Brown needs to flourish on the outside after an inconsistent season. Keep an eye on Tevin Reese, a rookie burner from Baylor with the nickname, “Sweet Feet.’’
Contact staff writer Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.