by Dan Mclellan
The Chargers could contend for the Super Bowl, but the preseason hype that has surrounded the team in recent years has faded after two consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs.
"We have high expectations," quarterback Philip Rivers says. "We know how disappointing it has been the last two years. So, we are focused on doing all we can to win the AFC West ."
Dean Spanos, owner and team president, ignored a deluge of public pressure to fire general manager A.J. Smith and coach
at the end of last season. Spanos instead said the two gave the Chargers the best chance to win - he also committed himself to spending whatever it takes.
Since then, Smith has signed more than 20 veteran free agents, about half of which will make the final 53-man roster. Running back Ronnie Brown , outside linebacker Jarret Johnson , fullback Le'Ron McClain , wide receiver Robert Meachem and wide receiver Eddie Royal are all expected to play major roles.
Big things are also expected out of this year's draft class. Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram (round one, 18th overall) and defensive end Kendall Reyes (round two, 49th overall) should help improve the pass rush dramatically. The Chargers defense was 23rd in the league with just 32 sacks a year ago.
"I think we updated in a lot of positions," Turner says. "We are off to a good start in terms of being the type of team we want to be. We want to play very fast, be a very physical team. You have to be a complete team to win in this league. So, we are working on all of the different facets that there are."
The key to success is for the old and new players to come together as a team, according to inside linebacker Takeo Spikes, a 15-year vet and vocal leader. "The big thing is playing together as a unit," Spikes says. "We have worked so hard to do the little things this offseason. We deserve that. Every single person deserves that from one another. To understand that we put time in, now it is time to put it together."
If the Chargers can play as a cohesive unit, then perhaps they can finally live up to the hype of the recent past. "We are a better team than we have been in the last couple of years," Turner says. "But we still have a lot of work to do."
owners must keep old promises made to fans
By Dan Mclellan
In exchange for votes to build PETCO Park, former Padres owner John Moores promised San Diego the team would always be competitive. We were told a new stadium would provide multiple revenue streams and that money would be spent on players' salaries.
The Padres started this season with the lowest team payroll in Major League Baseball (just over $55 million) and have languished well below .500.
Moores recently sold our beloved Friars to investment banker Ron Fowler and a group of minority owners including former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley and pro golfer Phil Mickelson.
Now that the roughly $800 million deal is done, it's time for the new owners to keep their pocket books open, retaining the club's current quality players and signing expensive marquee free agents.
My hope: less was Moores', and the change in ownership will equate to more wins and the more competitive Padres team we were promised.
Dan McLellan is the Chargers RapidReporter for CBSSports.com. He is also the co-host of Sports Squawk Sunday, broadcast 9 - 10 a.m. Sundays on XTRA Sports 1360 AM. Follow him on @SanDiegoSports and @CBSSportsNFLSD.