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Chargers Hire QB Coach

January 4, 2000

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Mike Johnson, an assistant at Oregon State the last three seasons, was hired Tuesday as quarterbacks coach of the San Diego Chargers.

The job had been handled by offensive coordinator Geep Chryst, who will now concentrate on his main duties.

Johnson rejoins his former boss at Oregon State, Mike Riley, who just completed his first year as Chargers coach. Johnson coached wide receivers for two seasons under Riley at Oregon State, then coached quarterbacks this season under Dennis Erickson.

Johnson worked with the Chargers during training camp.

``It’s a great opportunity and I’m a big-time Ryan Leaf and Jim Harbaugh fan, so it’s going to be great working with those guys,″ Johnson said from Corvallis.

Leaf didn’t throw a pass this season due to shoulder surgery and a four-week suspension for insubordination. But, like others in the Chargers’ organization, Johnson sees a good future for Leaf, who was taken with the second pick in the 1998 draft and then had a troubled rookie season.

``I watched him play a lot in college and he’s a guy who has a ton of ability,″ Johnson said. ``I just think he can be a heck of a quarterback in the NFL. I don’t care what he’s done in the past, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with him and the way he was in college.″

Leaf underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder on July 26, and is scheduled to have an exploratory arthroscopic procedure next week to determine what’s causing discomfort in the shoulder.

Riley said Monday that Harbaugh, who started 12 games in 1999, remains the starter going into minicamps and training camp.

Johnson also played quarterback under Riley with the San Antonio Riders of the old World League from 1991-92. He then played four seasons in the CFL.

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