Chargers begin building blocks at training camp

Costa Mesa (News4usonline) – And so it begins. For head coach Brandon Staley and the Los Angeles Chargers, the beginning of training camp means this is a new season with different expectations from a year ago. Staley is ready to toss last season in the rearview mirror and looks forward to the now of the 2022 NFL season. That’s a good thing. 

“I think before we left for break, we were really connected on how we wanted this training camp to look,” Staley said. “I think that’s the advantage of going into your second year with everybody. I think you could tell by how today went into, it was just so much crisper. There’s so much more confidence in what you’re doing. But, I took a lot of time this summer and enjoyed my family. We tried to make a lot of memories and be around my boys, my nieces, and all of the people who are close to me. We were ready for today and I felt like our performance reflected it.”

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley speaks to reporters following his team’s first day of training camp at the Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, California on July 27, 2022. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

In his first season as a head coach in the NFL, Staley had the luxury of having quarterback Justin Herbert slinging the ball around. Herbert is back for his third season with the ballclub. This is something that has a lot of people excited about the Chargers and the team’s potential. That is the great thing about training camp. 

A team is afforded the opportunity to wash away whatever shortcomings and failures they may have had in the prior season and can start fresh.  

“That’s the thing; it’s a new season,” linebacker Khalil Mack remarked about joining a team that experienced disappointment. “I was disappointed in Chicago, so coming out here, I didn’t feel any disappointment. I felt excited. I felt excited for a new opportunity, just knowing the potential. Just getting to this, getting to what really matters — the work and the camaraderie, communication and feeling how it’s going to feel on Sundays before we get there.”

For the Chargers, that would possibly include a postseason run, something that Staley and his team just missed out on with a regular season mark of 9-8. With the success he had in 2021, Herbert said on the first day of training camp that he doesn’t feel any pressure for him to have more team success this season.   

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert puts the pen to work as he mingles with fans on the first day of training camp at the Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, California on July 27, 2022. Photo by Dennis J Freeman/News4usonline

“There is no pressure on us,” Herbert said. “The only pressure that you make is what you put on yourself. I think, as a team, we have the pieces, we have the athletes and competitors. As long as we’re doing our best and we’re asking each other what we want to do ourselves, I don’t think there’s much more that you can ask of.”

On paper, the Chargers should have been playing in the postseason. Herbert went off against the rest of the league in his second season as a pro, passing for 5,014 yards and 38 touchdowns. 

Wide receiver Mike Williams exploded for 1,146 yards on 76 catches. Running back Austin Ekeler was close to rushing for 1,000 yards (911 yards), and linebacker Kyzir White held things down for the Chargers’ defense with 144 recorded tackles on the season.   

Mack, with Joey Bosa, is expected to create havoc for opposing offenses this season. Making matters even more sticky for offenses is the fact that the Chargers have the potency to be dominant with safety Derwin James, and new acquisition J.C. Jackson playing off each other. If Kenneth Murrary Jr. rises up to meet what is expected of him, the Chargers will have a top-tier defense. 

As of now, Murry is sidelined on the active/physically unable to perform list. Staley, however, expects his young linebacker to be back on the field at some point in training camp. 

“There’s not a timeline,” said Staley. “I know that he’s made a lot of progress over the summer — not enough to start camp, but I think that you’ll see him at some point during training camp. He’s working hard and he’s feeling much closer. But, I’m not going to put a timeline on it. I just think that he will be practicing at some point in the next four to six weeks.”

As for Mack, who played his first seasons with the Chicago Bears before joining the Las Vegas Raiders for another four-year stint, personal achievements are secondary. 

“I feel like up to this point in my career, I’ve accomplished things, but ultimately we want to get to a Super Bowl and we want to win it,” Mack said. “That’s the only thing on my mind at this point in my career.”

But this is just the first day of training camp, and there were no pads put on players. It was just helmets and shorts as players went about position drills and some team activities. It’s a long season. Postseason dreams for the Chargers? According to Mack, training camp is just the start of the process.  

“That’s the thing, everybody is going to tell you at this time of the year that, ‘The sky is the limit,’ and, ‘Championship,’ and all of that,” said Mack. “I see it as one day at a time. Take it one day at a time and work together, being the best, getting better every day. I feel like that will take care of itself once we get to that point.”

Featured Image Caption: Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Khalil Mack at the podium on the first day of training camp at the Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, California on July 27, 2022. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline