COSTA MESA, Calif. (News4usonline) – For the second day in a row, the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Cowboys squared off with one another for a joint practice at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Chargers head coach Brandon Staley thought the two days of practice benefitted both teams.
“I said it yesterday, but I really take my hat off to the Cowboys,” Staley said. “I thought these last two days of work were just incredible for both teams. I think the quality of coaching, the quality of play just made both teams better. I just really appreciate [Cowboys Head Coach] Mike [McCarthy] and the Jones family and all of the players for Dallas. Just a lot of respect for them. I thought it was two great days of work. I know that we really improved as a football team.”
On Saturday, the Chargers will hit the field at SoFi Stadium to play the Cowboys in an unofficial but official game in preseason action. So the theme of being familiar with one another will hit home a bit differently. Don’t expect Justin Herbert to take any snaps, which is why he and other offensive starters like wide receiver Keenan Allen were happy to get some actual work in as reserve players battle for roster spots.
“Major,” Allen said in regards to how valuable these sessions are to veteran players like himself. “To get a chance to go up against another team, see where you are, see what your conditioning is, see how good your games has been going. Obviously, you play against the same guys every day and then you go play against some other team who hasn’t seen what you have done. You get to see what it looks like, so pretty good.”
Herbert, the starting quarterback for the Chargers, echoed Allen’s thoughts on the validity of the joint practices.
“It means everything to us,” Herbert told reporters. “To have these live reps of treating them like a game-like situation, that’s where we get our reps. That’s where we get our practice in. Since we’re not playing in the preseason, we need to take advantage of these reps, and we did. We felt like we really got after the past couple of days. To go up against a team like that, I think it’s a great learning lesson for us, as well, to see a team that flies around like that and a front seven like they have. I thought it was a great opportunity for us.”
The second day of practice featured a defense-offense, offense-defense chess match with the Chargers matching wits against the Cowboys’ defense, while Dallas put their offense on an adjourning field against Los Angeles.
Led by edge rushers Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa, the Chargers pretty much bottled up Dak Prescott during the time he was leading the Dallas offense. Outside of completing a deep Hail Mary pass for a touchdown at the conclusion of practice, Prescott spent the afternoon being chased and trying to avoid the pressure the Chargers put on him, forcing him into a pedestrian passing day.
When asked how he would evaluate his defensive unit’s performance, Staley said the unit played together.
“I thought [of] a group that played together. I felt the communication,” Staley remarked.
Staley went on to say that he liked what he saw from his defense.
“I feel like we were able to stand up to a good running attack and two premier backs in the league,” said Staley. “I liked the way we played together. I thought we played with a lot of energy. I thought that we kept the ball out of the deep part of the field. I thought that we got some negative plays. There’s a lot to clean up. Yesterday, much like our offense, you’re facing some new things, and you’re not executing at a perfect level, but you’re learning a lot of good lessons. I thought that our defense definitely moved forward this week, for sure.”
Prescott said what stood out the most about the Chargers’ defense was their size and how well they verbalize with one another on the field.
“Obviously, you step up to the line and you look at the guys they got upfront on the edges-Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack and the rest and company,” Prescott said. “They’ve got [Kyle] Van Noy at linebacker…big group. Right there, they had the sixth one. For a second, I thought they had too many players on the field; too many big guys at once, but physical, physical defense. Fast, they communicate, and they talk well.”