THOUSAND OAKS — Although the Jim Lachey mystery remained unsolved Wednesday, there appeared to be progress on Chip Banks.
Lachey is the Chargers' Pro Bowl offensive tackle who was supposed to report to training camp Monday but remains incommunicado in Columbus, Ohio. His friends say he wants to be traded, perhaps to the Chicago Bears. The Chargers are still waiting to hear that from him.
Banks, one of the Chargers' five remaining unsigned free agents, has not reported, either. But his agent, Harold Daniels, attended the team's scrimmage Wednesday against the Dallas Cowboys at California Lutheran College and said he expects Banks to report soon.
Asked how soon, Daniels said: "When's their first game?"
Informed that the Chargers' first exhibition game is Aug. 6 against the Cowboys, Daniels said: "He'll probably be in right after that."
Daniels said that Banks and the Chargers already have agreed to terms on a five-year contract. The hang-up, he said, is Banks' desire for a reporting bonus, reportedly $300,000.
Daniels said Banks might report to camp without having settled the matter of the bonus.
The other unsigned free agents are running back Curtis Adams and defensive linemen Joe Phillips, Mike Charles and Lee Williams.
The Chargers and the Cowboys will practice twice again today after they worked out once against each other Wednesday afternoon.
The highlight of the afternoon session was a fight between Charger cornerback Elvis Patterson and a rookie Cowboy wide receiver, Michael Irvin. The fight began near the sidelines, sprawled across a running track and ended near a couple of parked cars.
"Football will always be that way," Patterson said after it was over.
"In time," he added, "Michael Irvin will be one of the premier wide receivers in football."
Irvin was less impressed with Patterson; he accused Patterson of hitting him after he had been 20 yards out of bounds. But, Irvin added, referring to the fight: "That's what football's all about."
With the first exhibition game less than 10 days away, Coach Al Saunders says he will begin to make quarterback decisions over the weekend. To date in training camp, all four quarterbacks--Mark Malone, Babe Laufenberg, Steve Fuller and Mark Vlasic--have taken an equal number of snaps.
"We've got to start paring that down and give a couple of guys more of the time," Saunders said.
One of the biggest players on any field is Cowboy guard Nate (The Kitchen) Newton, who is listed by the Cowboys at 6-feet 3-inches and 315 pounds.
Asked if the Cowboys had considered placing Newton in a hospital-supervised weight-loss program similar to the one the Bears found for William Perry, Dallas assistant Jim Erkenbeck said they hadn't.
"Compared to Perry," Erkenbeck said, "Nate's Heather Locklear."