SAN DIEGO — Third-round draft choice Jeff Walker finally arrived in camp and signed a contract, but learned he will miss five to 10 days of practice because of a pulled leg muscle.
Walker said he injured the quadriceps muscle in his right leg while running sprints last week in his hometown of Memphis, Tenn. He hopes to be able to practice in four days, but the Charger trainer said it could be up to 10 days.
Walker also said he had no second thoughts about the way his protracted contract negotiations with the Chargers were conducted. He stressed, however, that his father gave him the freedom to decide between the Chargers and the Memphis Showboats of the USFL.
First-round draft choice James FitzPatrick of USC has his suitcase packed and is ready to get in his Jeep and head south on the San Diego Freeway, according to his agent, Leigh Steinberg.
"He's dying to be in camp," Steinberg said.
A difference of $20,000 a year over five years divides the team and player, Steinberg said.
The Chargers are offering a five-year deal for $1.8 million. They have rejected Steinberg's counter-proposal of $1.9 million for five years.
"We are not galaxies apart," Steinberg said. "It's more like the distance from San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium to training camp."
General Manager Johnny Sanders reported no progress with the team's other first-round choice, Leslie O'Neal. He plans to talk today with O'Neal's agent, Marvin Demoff.
Sanders said there may be a way to avert a possible holdout by running back Lionel James, who wants a new contract before veterans report Friday.
Sanders, after talking with James' agent, George Kickliter, said an insurance policy that would cover James in the event of injury might be the answer. James has shown no taste for a holdout, and the club seems to be banking on the player to appear on schedule.
However, if he fails to report on time, he would be subject to the standard $1,000 per day fine for any veteran holdout, Sanders said.
Linebacker Ty Allert, a fourth-round draft choice, has hired a new agent, Hugh Hackney, and may be near an end to his holdout.
"I talked with Ty this afternoon and really liked him," Sanders said. "He told me he wants to come out and get to playing."
Sanders reported no movement in talks with another fourth-round selection, linebacker Tommy Taylor. "I've told him he's losing time and is hurting himself by not being here," Sanders said.