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Chargers Rookies Get First Taste of NFL
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The Chargers have been going at it hard since the day training camp opened, but nothing compared to the speed, tempo and physicality of the first preseason game.
Just ask the Bolts’ rookies.
“It was definitely a new experience,” said fifth-round pick Steve Williams. “Definitely. But I felt I did a pretty good job. I did my job and there are some things I know I need to get better at, but it was definitely different than college or even the practices we’ve had.”
Thursday night marked the NFL debut for the rookies, and while they were disappointed with the end result and know they have a long way to go, on the whole they were pleased with their debut.
“It was a good first step,” said first-round pick D.J. Fluker, who played the entire first series as the starters pieced together an impressive drive. “I felt great. I had a great time out there playing with my offensive line and my quarterback. We built that bond. I felt we did well but we can always improve. That’s the way I see it.”
Head coach Mike McCoy liked what he saw out of the first-round pick, praising him for a job well done. Still, he cautioned that just like all the rookies, he has a long way to go.
“Fluke did a nice job,” he said. “He was in there with the ones and we took him out. He’s going to get his time but you love his attitude and his approach to the game everyday. He comes to work. The kid truly loves the game of football and that’s what you love about him. What you see is what you get everyday…He got out there tonight and he was like a little kid in a candy shop. He absolutely loves the game of football. So you love his attitude. But all the rookies have a long ways to go.”
Obviously playing in their first professional game brought out a ton of emotions, but the rookies said when the whistle blew and the ball was hiked, it was the same exact game they’ve always played.
“I had my first game jitters in the beginning but as the plays went on, you kind of settle in and you start playing football,” said Manti Te’o. “For all of us to get out there, it just felt good in the whole game atmosphere…(I want) to be the best middle linebacker I can be and just try and do whatever it takes to win. That’s what I’m going to do every day.
Keenan Allen finished with two catches for 13 yards, seeing time with both the first and second units. While he continued his mantra of “football is football,” Allen admitted he took a moment to take it all in and appreciate his first NFL game.
“To be honest it felt normal out there,” he said. “I was just out there playing football. But right after the defense was announced we all ran out into the end zone and said a prayer. I looked up at all the fans and my teammates and it hit me that I was in the NFL.”
Quarterback Brad Sorensen, who finished 7-of-10 for 84 yards and a touchdown, had a particularly impressive debut according to McCoy.
“I’m so happy for Brad,” said the head coach. “He did a great job. He’s done a great job all camp long. He made the most of his opportunity tonight. He did a nice job moving around the pocket a couple of times making some players. Great for Ladarius (Green) for the touchdown there. But Brad is that quiet rookie that’s kind of come in and doesn’t say a lot. He’s got two good veterans in front of him that have done an outstanding job of helping him and not being selfish.
“And I’m happy for (quarterbacks coach) Frank (Reich) too because the process of the personnel department, you go through the whole evaluation through all the college players and when you find a guy to step up and do what he’s done so far, you’re really happy for him. But he’s got a long ways to go. This is the first preseason game and the game’s only going to get faster.”
That’s certainly the case for all the Chargers rookies as they adjust to the speed of the NFL game. But Thursday night provided a great opportunity to get their feet wet as they embark on what is hopefully a long and successful career with the Chargers. Read