If you are tracking the football at the San Diego Chargers-Tennessee Titans NFL preseason game Saturday, don’t follow former Mount de Sales head coach Robert Slocum’s lead.
“He said he will have his binoculars on me,” Chargers fullback Chris Swain said. “He’ll be scouting me and then be ready to give me pointers.”
Swain, an ex Mount de Sales and Navy standout, is looking to stand out in this Navy town. San Diego has presented the undrafted rookie with the chance of making an NFL roster.
“Honestly my plan was to go into active service,” Swain said. “Country came first, and it always came first for me. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to come play for this great organization and represent the Navy in the way that I can. I like doing both.”
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That includes missing an occasional practice, like he did last week as part of the Navy Reserve program. Swain, an officer after his graduation from the Naval Academy, works in the public affairs office at Coronado’s Naval Air Station North Island.
Moving from the military to the civilian world might pale in comparison to what Swain is tackling on the field. He’s morphing from a fullback in Navy’s option offense to a fullback in a pro-style approach. He’s also getting snaps at running back and contributing on special teams.
“It’s probably one of the toughest transitions, playing in a unique position in college, then basically learning a new position here on the next level,” Swain said. “It’s different blocking techniques, schemes, pass protections, routes and things like that.”
That’s a full plate for any player, let alone one with military obligations. Swain shrugs about his workload.
“I would say the Academy really taught me how to manage both,” he said. “A lot was thrown at me over there so I feel like I’m good at managing multiple things.”
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy is impressed by the 6-foot, 249-pound Swain.
“The way he works and where he is coming from, it shows on the field,” McCoy said. “He busts his tail every single down. Talking about making every opportunity count, that is how he shows up to work every day. Every rep he gets, he does the best he can.”
Before giving his all, there have been times when Swain gives a befuddled look. Like during the offseason practices when he ran with the first team with Derek Watt, a sixth-round pick, being out.
“My NFL moment was back in the OTAs when a play was called in the huddle,” Swain said. “I knew what it was because I saw the play before I went in there.”
Then quarterback Philip Rivers does what he usually does at the line of scrimmage, making an adjustment to put the Chargers in their best position.
“He checked the play, and I was confused, and I just sort of blanked out,” Swain said. “We had to call the play again because I didn’t know what I was doing.
“I owned it, of course, but I really don’t know what to do. I’m learning a lot so hopefully those situations happen less and less.”
Swain is proving to the Chargers that he can do more and more. That includes special teams, a unit which seldom saw Swain’s presence at Navy.
“I’m trying to show them a little bit of everything,” he said. “Just play wherever they play me; I want to show them great effort.”
He does so with a great support system.
Slocum and Carl Perrazola, another former coach, are sharing special-teams tips and anything else with Swain. That’s why no matter where the ball bounces Saturday, the Mount de Sales posse will be zeroed in on Swain.
“They are always coaching me up,” Swain said. “Whenever I get home, I hang out with the coaches.
“Robert Slocum was a mentor. Of course my dad is my dad, but (Slocum) was also there for me the whole time in high school.”
Now’s the time for Swain to shine under the Saturday night lights. At least two sets of eyes from Mount de Sales will be watching.