CARSON — Jason Verrett shook his head.
“I can’t hear you,” he said.
In front of the Chargers cornerback was a small group of reporters. Behind him was a backdrop covered with team logos, a new 20-by-52-foot video board, and a few dozen screaming fans.
No, the StubHub Center is not very large, even with new metal bleachers built on the southeast concourse and on top of the northern berm. But unlike just about every other NFL venue in the country, fans can get very, very close.
“There’s no bad seat in the house,” said quarterback Philip Rivers.
An estimated 8,000 showed up for Saturday’s joint practice between the Chargers and the Rams — which means what is already by far the league’s smallest stadium was at less than one-third capacity. That was partially by design: The Chargers closed off the top-level sections, giving themselves a more manageable dry run before the start of the season. Access was also limited to season-ticket holders and waitlist members, although a few determined Rams fans still found their way in.
But if the Chargers want to sell this as a unique environment, there are clearly factors working in their favor. A few dozen seats were set up on the southwest corner of the field itself, just yards away from the Chargers’ sideline. But for those who either can’t or won’t shell out thousands of dollars, it’s easy enough to run down at the end of a game, lean out over the railing — and, for the lucky, get an autograph or game-used souvenir.
For the players, Saturday’s experience was useful was well. Some of them had been in the stadium before, either to watch a soccer game or to train on their own leading up to their draft selections. But for most, this was the first time they saw it outfitted for football, with soccer markings barely visible beneath the new finish.
“It was good to get a feel,” Rivers said. “I know as a passer, I like to get the sight lines, the depth perception, all those things — get that kind of situated. Where the play clocks are. Just those things that, obviously, you have the preseason to do, but any time you come in here, you want to take advantage of it.”
So yeah, this is going to be small. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be loud.
“It’s back to basics,” defensive end Melvin Ingram said. “It’s just back to like, you don’t need 200,000 fans in there. … It’s hard to explain. It’s just an amazing atmosphere. I feel like the fans are even more excited than we…