Defense is a term rarely associated with the Chargers, but it caught Coach Don Coryell's eye in a scrimmage against the Rams in Anaheim Stadium Thursday night.
"I was very pleased with the hitting of our defense," Coryell said after the scoreless scrimmage played on an abbreviated field laid out in the outfield. "They were a little hungry. We've held them back in practice. I didn't see anybody that was timid."
However, Coryell said he is still "very concerned" about the cornerbacks spots.
"If we're ever gonna blitz, we're gonna leave a lot of single coverage out there. We hope our cornerbacks will improve."
Admission was free and the crowd was announced as 24,380, although unofficial estimates were lower.
"It was a lot better than a hot, sticky day," Coryell said, "like a game situation. People get fire in their eyeballs."
The Chargers' only complaint was that there was no pregame food or drink awaiting them in their dressing room.
The most serious injury was suffered by Ram rookie quarterback Hugh Millen, a third-round draft choice from the University of Washington, who was believed to have fractured his right ankle near the end of the scrimmage when he slipped without being hit.
The event was divided into a 7-on-7 passing drill featuring the offensive and defensive regulars and an 11-on-11 contact session with rookies and reserves. The Rams' starting offensive line, with its four Pro Bowl players, was not in uniform.
In the skeleton passing phase, Charger quarterback Dan Fouts completed 14 of 20 passes for 180 yards, and backup Mark Herrman was 11 of 20 for 110.
With every play starting at midfield, the night's only "touchdowns" were scored by the Rams in the 7-on-7 drills when Steve Dils hit Ron Brown at the goal line and Steve Bartkowski passed deep down the right sideline to Eric Dickerson, who was the leading receiver with eight catches for 87 yards.
In the 11-on-11 scrimmage, Herrmann completed 3 of 5 passes for 15 yards, Tom Flick was 1 for 2 for 22 and Wayne Peace 4 for 6 for 26.
Flick walked off the field with an ice pack on his right ankle, but the injury was not thought to be serious.
For the Rams, Dils was 6 of 13 for 51 yards and Millen completed his only pass to running back William Stone for 45 yards.
In the 7 on 7, Dils was 9 of 13 for 117, Bartkowski 9 of 13 for 129 and Dieter Brock, the incumbent starter, 5 of 14 for 76. Brock was booed after one long incomplete pass, no doubt making him feel at home.
Neither side was able to run the ball effectively.