Chargers rookies get baptism by fire at mini-camp

Los Angeles Chargers rookies go through their first day of min-camp at Chargers Park in San Diego. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

SAN DIEGO-The overcast afternoon at Chargers Park wasn’t enough to dim the enthusiasm coming from Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn about what he saw on the first official day of the  team’s rookie min-camp.

Lynn, in his first year leading the Chargers,  talked to the media with tempered excitement on what he saw from his young players, including fist round draft pick wide receiver Mike Williams.

“I thought the tempo was excellent,” Lynn said. “I thought that Mike was fine. He’s learning like everybody else. He’s moving well, caught a couple of balls today. It’s a lot of learning on Day 1. Really, you don’t see the natural abilities you see in Week 2; Once they learn how to get lined up, their assignments, and all the adjustments we have, then you’ll these guys play fast in these plays.”

Williams, the No. 7 overall picked in the 2017 NFL Draft, for his part, didn’t sound like he was too nervous about playing on the big stage for the first time as he met with reporters after practice.

Rookie quarterback Eli Jenkins from Jacksonville State University, goes through drills on the first day of rookie mini-camp for the Los Angeles Chargers. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

“It felt good, ” Williams said. “I was looking forward to this day ever since I got drafted. It feels good to be out here with those guys, learning the system, running a few routes. It was good.”

One of the adjustments Williams have to make from his college days is going into the huddle every play, something he didn’t do at Clemson.

“We really didn’t huddle, so that was new to me,” Williams said. “We huddle every play (Chargers), but I’m getting use to the transition, though.”

The learning curve of grasping a whole new way of doing things at the NFL level is different for every rookie. At the end of the day, Williams, who signed his rookie contract prior to taking the field, the game of football is the same as it has always been to him, which explains why he wasn’t nervous.

“You just got to know what you’re doing. In order to play fast, you just got to know what you’re doing,” said Williams. “It comes over time, doing the plays, looking at it, just making those reps-it makes your learning easy. At the end of the day, it’s football. Just go out there and play fast.”

On Tuesday, the rookies get their first chance to mingle with the veterans when OTAs (offseason training  activities ) officially kick off for the Chargers. The Chargers hold their mini-camp in June. One of the other notable aspect of the rookie mini-camp was quarterbacks Eli Jenkins and Mike Bercovici zipping passes and running the offense-with help of course.

Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp was the No. 38 selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Chargers picked Lamp, pictured here at the team’s Draftfest on Saturday, April 29, 2017, in the second round. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

Jenkins, who ran the show at Jacksonville State, and Bercovici, who starred at Arizona State, are both undrafted free agents. Both players will be trying to make a push to make the Chargers roster as the team’s third quarterback, behind starter Philip Rivers and backup Kellen Clemens, who’ll be entering his 13th season in the league come this fall.

With Rivers going into his 15th season, bringing in Jenkins and Bercovici signals the team’s eventual need for young blood at the quarterback position. Both Jenkins and Bercovici appeared to be picking up the offense pretty quickly. The guys protecting them from harm’s way-the offensive line-looked even more adept at picking up the blocking schemes.

Guard Forrest Lamp suggested it was not as easy as it looks.

“The NFL is not easy. It’s definitely a step up from college, but it’s fun. We had a good time today,” Lamp said.

Coming from Western Kentucky, Lamp said he’s found similarities in the way the Chargers do things offensively and what he was accustomed to doing in college.

“We did a lot of that at Western (Kentucky)…we pulled and we ran a lot of zone, which is what we do here, and it’s fun,” said  Lamp.

As much fun it was, Lamp did admit experiencing a tingle of nerves on his fist day of camp.

“Everybody had a little bit of nerves and jitters,”  Lamp said. “We haven’t played football in four or five months, some of us. So it was a little bit of nerve-wracking. But once you got out there and started running around it went away. It’s like riding a bike. Once you learn how to do it, you’ll be able to do it forever.”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1084 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.

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