SAN DIEGO -- At 6-feet and 200 pounds, sometimes it’s hard to see undrafted rookie quarterback Mike Bercovici sitting back there in the pocket.
But then two offensive linemen open up a small passing window and the ball comes shooting out for an accurate completion downfield.
The Arizona State product has been one of the pleasant surprises for the San Diego Chargers during training camp. While veteran Kellen Clemens and young flamethrower Zach Mettenberger are in a battle for the backup-quarterback job behind Philip Rivers, Bercovici is doing his best to make himself a part of that competition.
Bercovici didn’t hurt himself in a controlled scrimmage Saturday at Qualcomm Stadium during the team’s annual FanFest, finishing 4-of-6 for 45 yards on the final drive of the day as the third unit drove for a Josh Lambo field goal.
Bercovici would have had a touchdown pass had tight end Tim Semisch managed to hold onto an acrobatic attempt for a catch in the end zone.
Bercovici, a Southern California native, said he’s living the dream, playing for the team he rooted for as a child and sharing a quarterback room with the player he admired growing up as a quarterback in Rivers.
Bercovici said the first game he ever attending was the Chargers hosting the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium as a kid.
A decade later, he’s wearing a San Diego uniform and playing there.
“I always grew up idolizing Philip Rivers,” Bercovici said. “At the time there was no team in Los Angeles, so the thing to do was to get up early and take the train to San Diego to watch your favorite NFL team growing up. So it’s pretty awesome to be here."
Bercovici threw for 3,854 yards and 30 touchdowns his final season with the Sun Devils. After the draft, he had plenty of interest, but signed with San Diego because of the opportunity to worked with an experienced offensive coordinator such as Ken Whisenhunt and Rivers.
“I wanted to go to a place where there was a veteran quarterback that I could learn from,” Bercovici said of making the decision to sign with the Chargers as an undrafted rookie. “And there’s no one better than Philip Rivers.
“I knew coach Whisenhunt was a guy that has been incredible with the quarterback position. And it just seemed like I was in a good position to make the team here. Every day I’m keeping my head down and working as hard as I can.”
Along with admiring Rivers, Bercovici said he would watch another former San Diego quarterback every day at lunch during his time in high school: Drew Brees.
“Just the way he would navigate the pocket and get around players,” Bercovici said. “Obviously if you’re 6-foot-whatever, it’s not as easy as for guys like Philip. But it all starts with your base, your foundation, your footwork and getting that accelerated vision.
“It might not look good, but if you can get the ball out on a shallow cross or a deep ball -- whatever the case may be -- that’s something I really worked on since high school.”
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said he’s seen some good things from Bercovici, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
“He’s a young player that is swimming at times,” McCoy said. “You can tell when he’s looking around that he really knows what he’s doing, he making the audibles and making the right calls.
“Then there are those plays where he looks like he doesn’t have this one figured out yet. But I’m pleased with his progress.”
Highlights from FanFest: Rivers led the starters to a field goal on the opening drive. The highlight was a 29-yard pitch-and-catch from Rivers to second-year pro Tyrell Williams, who continues to have an impressive camp. Cornerback Brandon Flowers had a nice pass breakup to force the field goal unit onto the field. ... In the battle for the backup-QB job, Clemens was the first quarterback to work with the second unit. ... Safety Darrell Stuckey corralled an interception in the red zone when Mettenberger tried to force a pass into coverage. ... New receiver James Jones had a nice chunk play on a crossing route while working with the second unit. ... Outside linebackers Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu have been very active rushing the passer the past two days. ... Lambo missed two of his six field goal attempts during the scrimmage, both from what appeared to be about 40 to 45 yards. ... The Chargers estimated that more than 18,000 fans attended the event.
Injury update: WR Travis Benjamin, WR Javontee Herndon, LB Denzel Perryman, C Spencer Pulley, DE Tenny Palepoi, C Chris Watt (physically unable to perform list) and WR Stevie Johnson did not practice Saturday. Keenan Allen warmed up with the receivers but did not participate in the scrimmage. McCoy said that Allen got his foot stepped on during Friday’s practice but should be fine.