SAN DIEGO -- A point of emphasis for San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich heading into training camp, the running game has looked much improved through the first week of camp.
The Chargers averaged 3.43 yards per carry last season, second-worst in the league.
"We were very effective," offensive lineman D.J. Fluker said. "We did a great job down there in the red area by actually punching it in.
"It's about a mindset and being able to not be denied and giving great effort."
While pleased with the progress made so far, offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris said his group still has a long ways to go.
"Yes, it's getting better, but it's nothing to write home about yet," D'Alessandris said. "I always keep myself reserved in that area. But it is improving. We've got a quality running back here, and now we've got to continue to do a good job up front."
Of course, an explosive running back like Melvin Gordon helps. But along with Gordon, running backs Branden Oliver, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown have found plenty of room to run while working with the first group.
D'Alessandris continues to build depth in his offensive line by moving guys around. Chris Watt worked mostly at left guard Wednesday with Orlando Franklin taking a rest. And Fluker spent the last two days of practice at right guard with Johnnie Troutman on the sideline.
Pettis makes his mark: Big receiver Austin Pettis has made several, impressive catches the past two days. At 6-3 and 203 pounds, Pettis has a wide catch radius and has been quicker than expected getting out of breaks. Specifically, he's done a nice job in the red zone. "I haven't been in there with him much, but I think what stands out to me is you can tell he's played in this league, and made plays in this league," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "He shows up on tape when you go back and watch, and in one-on-ones. He's a guy that is physical and has picked up the offense well."
Franklin's back: After missing a few days of practice with an undisclosed leg injury, offensive guard Orlando Franklin was back at practice Thursday, along with cornerback Brandon Flowers. Defensive end Ricardo Mathews, cornerback Greg Ducre and Troutman remain out. Joining them on the sideline was receiver Malcom Floyd. New cornerback Jordan Maybin is wearing No. 35. New defensive lineman Luther Robinson is wearing No. 68.