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Sun., Oct. 23, 2016 1:05 PM to 4:05 PM PDT
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Preseason Opener a Landmark Night for Newest Chargers
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A lifetime of hard work and perseverance finally pays off Thursday night as the Chargers’ rookies suit up for the first time as professional football players.
They’ve dreamed about this moment since they were little kids playing in the backyard, having a catch with their father or playing two-hand touch with the other kids in the neighborhood. While there have been many memorable landmarks in their journey up to this point, pulling on that Chargers jersey for the first time truly marks the culmination of a lifetime dream to play in the National Football League.
“I have a lot of emotions building up thinking about playing on Thursday,” said first-round pick Melvin Ingram. “This whole thing has been a blessing, and that is how I am looking at my first game. It’s just another blessing to be in the NFL and part of a first class organization like the Chargers. This is everything I dreamed of growing up as a kid and then some.”
Strong safety Brandon Taylor, a third round pick out of LSU, agreed with Ingram, excitedly describing how emotional it will be when he runs out of the tunnel just before kickoff.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this day,” he said. “I’m going to soak up every bit of the experience. I’m ready to head out there and play exciting football, stay focused and make big plays. I’m looking forward to being out there with my teammates and soaking in my first NFL game”
While it marks the start of a lifelong dream, the preseason opener also affords the players their first opportunity to make a lasting impression on both the Chargers coaches and the team’s fan base.
“The game is a big moment of course,” added Kendall Reyes, the team’s second round pick out of Connecticut. “I’ve come a long way, and I’ve been working hard ever since I got to San Diego. But this is the first time I can really, truly showcase all my talents and be as physical as possible in tackling. I’m definitely very excited and I’m ready to hit somebody else.”
The first year players aren’t the only ones eager to make their Chargers debut Thursday night, as the team’s free-agent acquisitions are also looking forward to making a strong first impression in front of a nationally televised audience.
“It’s going to be a new experience for me and it’s a great feeling to be on this team,” said former New Orleans Saints wide-receiver Robert Meachem, one of the team’s 17 off-season additions. “God has put me in this position for a reason, and I just want to enjoy the moment and get better and better each and every day. I want to show the fans they can expect what they always expect out of me. And that’s big plays and doing everything I can to put my team in the best position to win.”
One Charger in particular who will be extra emotional is quarterback Kevin O’Connell, who grew up a die-hard Bolts fan. The opportunity to play for his hometown team is one he plans on cherishing forever.
“I’m really excited beyond words,” he said at his locker following Wednesday morning’s walk-through. “I’ve only had a short time to come in and learn everything, but I feel good about what I will hopefully be doing on the field. But most of all, I’m excited to be in Qualcomm as a member of the San Diego Chargers. It’s a very exciting time for me and I can’t wait for it.”