COSTA MESA, CA-The Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints encounter each other in each team’s third preseason game of the 2018 NFL season. But doing this dance isn’t enough for these two organizations. On Wednesday, Aug. 22, the Chargers hosted the Saints for the first of two scrimmages at the Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex to get some real-time work in for their players.
Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn sounded excited about what he saw out on the practice field.
“I love seeing the guys compete, putting them in the redzone, putting them in third-down situations, third-and-long situations,” Lynn said. “I love seeing guys compete and make plays. I thought we had some of that today. We had some miscommunication as well. The tempo sped up the practice. That’s good work for us. That’s going to help us on game day.”
For two days of practice and in their final home preseason game, the Chargers face a future Hall of Famer in quarterback Drew Brees, a player the franchise drafted in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft. Brees left the Chargers after the 2005 season and picked up his storied career with the Saints in 2006, and have never looked back, eventually winning a Super Bowl.
The Chargers have a pretty good signal-caller themselves in quarterback Philip Rivers, who is considered by some as a sure-fire Hall of Fame selection himself. The ironic piece here is that Rivers came over to the Chargers in 2004 as part of the New York Giants swap for draft picks with Eli Manning. So for two seasons, Rivers sat behind Brees. The two struck up a solid camaraderie bond between one another and have stayed in contact with each other throughout all these years.
Rivers talked about his admiration for Brees and his relationship with the Saints quarterback.
“I think it’s unique because of how the whole thing kind of played out…being able to meet a guy who deserves credit for the way he bounced back,” Rivers said. “I felt early on as a rookie that shoot, this guy is pretty dang good. I just remember going ‘I don’t believe 4-12 is all on him’-the previous year. And then he got hot and shoot, have been hot for now another 15 years. Credit to him, obviously. In those first two years, I enjoyed working with him and competing. It worked out, worked out well for him. Shoot, he’s had a heck of a run in New Orleans, won a championship. I’ve been able to have some longevity here with the Chargers. It is unique. Drew and I have always kept in touch.”
Rivers didn’t just dole out high praise for Brees. He’s been impressed with the play of young players Derwin James, Uchenna Nwosu and Kyzir White. Rivers said he likes what he has seen from the rookie defensive stalwarts.
“They all seem to have great instincts,” Rivers said. “I can’t speak performance like (defensive coordinator) Gus (Bradley) can and coach Lynn, but they all have great instincts. You tell that, and they really can accelerate and attack the football.”
At the end of the first practice session, Saints coach Sean Payton said the change of pace of mixing things up with another ballclub like the Chargers has its advantages.
“I think the one big thing is it changes the routine,” Payton said. “I think that’s good in our league because we’re constantly changing, but also you’re working against a different defense than your own. I don’t mean just a different defense, but how they play defense is different. The coverage schemes are different. What they do offensively, specifically with the run game, what they do with certain formations, they’re different. I think when you do that, especially for two or three days like we are, you have a chance to see some of the maybe the weaknesses or holes in certain areas that we haven’t seen at home against our own offense and defense. So I think it’s good when you have a chance to change the routine up and get good work with another team.”