COSTA MESA (News4usonline) – It’s summer. Late summer. So that means training camp for NFL ballclubs. It also means getting used to seeing new faces and putting last season in the rearview mirror.
The Los Angeles Chargers are in Week 2 of their training camp. The new has overtaken the old in that the Chargers are much stronger on both sides of the ball than they were a year ago. If there was one singular item the Chargers are hoping to build on from Brandon Staley’s first year as head coach it would be to get better.
Judging by their offseason moves and the NFL Draft, the Chargers appear to have done that. With a year under his belt, Staley is hoping his team takes off from his rookie season. On the team’s first day in pads, Staley was impressed with what he saw from his team.
“I liked the competition in one-on-ones,” Staley said. “I wanted there to be a bunch of them so that we could really get a good look at this group. I liked the respect and competition. I thought that it was fierce. There are a lot of good players going one-on-one there. I thought that the way we practiced in 11-on-11 is indicative of a good team. You have to get used to the pads. This is our first day being in them. We’ll be in them tomorrow, do a little bit more. But I felt like it was a good start.”
The Chargers made two major upgrades to their defense in the offseason. Linebacker Khalil Mack was one move. The other was cornerback J.C. Jackson. Both players are expected to be game-changers for the Chargers’ defense this season. When it comes to the secondary, the Chargers are looking real good on paper.
No, let’s back up on that statement. With all-world safety Derwin James Jr., sophomore defensive back Asante Samuel Jr., and Nasir Adderley roaming the field, the pickup of Jackson figures to move Los Angeles into the top-tier of defensive backfields in the NFL. For now, James is out of action due to contract negotiations.
“I definitely miss having my boy back there,” said Adderley. “But he’s doing a great job, being the leader that he is, making sure everybody knows what they’re supposed to do, bringing the energy. We’re excited to have him back whenever that time comes. He’s been a great leader and going about this the right way, in my opinion.”
Hopefully, the James matter will get resolved soon and the Chargers’ new-look defense will be complete. Adderley is one player who is excited about the defensive unit that has been formulated.
“Just a whole lot of excitement,” Adderley said. “I mean, we see the type of players that we brought in, the type of leaders they are. You can feel it when you’re out there, they’re bringing the energy, being physical, flying around. I’m excited. We have a really good group.”
Naturally, eyes have been on the two players since their arrivals, respectively, to the Chargers organization. With training camp now being in its second week, the spillover to what is expected of Mack and Jackson has already shown itself. One of the areas the Chargers were in need of shoring up this season was their run defense.
Out of the league’s 32 teams, the Chargers ranked No. 30. The addition of Mack, a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro performer, will no doubt move the Chargers up the chart in stopping the run.
Mack will have plenty of help up front and around him to complete the task with Joey Bosa, Jerry Tillery, Sebastian Joseph-Day, and Austiin Johnson, plugging up the run effectively shouldn’t be an issue for the Chargers this season.
With all the new players joining the Chargers, there’s been more than a few headlines suggesting Los Angeles has an opportunity to make a deep run in the postseason, even a chance of making it to the Super Bowl.
Center Corey Linsley said those expectations were around last season.
“Honestly, I felt confident last year,” Linsley remarked. “You have to look at different things that happened across the year last year. It was the first year and everybody was learning, [QB] Justin [Herbert] was learning, I’m learning, we’re all learning. Now, we can take that next step. We definitely made some awesome acquisitions, like bringing in all of these D-linemen that I have a lot of respect for, and everybody that we brought in across the board.”
“For us, now it’s about us,” Linsley added. “It’s about diving into the playbook, diving into adjustments, and diving into little minute details and a game plan where we can now build off of the stuff that we built on last year. Does it feel different? Yeah, I mean, it should. Overall, I feel the same level of focus and attention, and work. It’s just we’re in a different place now.”
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He is also the publisher and editor of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. Dennis has more than two decades of reporting experience. His beats include covering sports, social and racial justice, and equal rights. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University. “I write what I’m passionate about.”