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Notable Bolts Make Their Debut
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There was not too much to be pleased with in Friday night’s loss in the Pacific Northwest. Still, it was a significant step for a number of notable Chargers, including Brandon Flowers, John Phillips, Chris Watt, Corey Liuget and Antonio Gates as it marked the first time they took the field in 2014.
Flowers played the first couple series for the Bolts lining up in a wide variety of areas. So how did Head Coach Mike McCoy feel the cornerback performed in his first time donning the lightning bolt?
“Not bad,” he said. “With the plays that he was in there (he) did a nice job. It’s a matter of getting the communication down with everybody, playing faster and making the adjustments on the run you need to make when the formation strength changes and making the calls. We play corners over and things like that, so when he comes over and plays in the slot, which he’s played inside in nickel plenty of times, it’s a matter of playing with his teammates and communicating as fast as he can.”
Meanwhile, Phillips’ return to the fold was the feel good story of the day. The valuable tight end who suffered a major knee injury in Week 16 a year ago wasn’t sure how long it would take him to return to action, but he knew he would return after putting in a ton of hard work. Sure enough, there he was once again doing the grunt work while also snaring a six-yard pass from Kellen Clemens.
“It felt really good to get back out there and play and be back in a game,” he said. “Obviously with a serious knee injury like that you never know when you’ll be back, but the trainers and doctors did a good job to get me back out there. Unfortunately it wasn’t a better outcome for us as we lost though.”
For Chris Watt, Friday night marked the culmination of a life-long dream. The team’s third round pick sat out the preseason opener against the Cowboys, so the game marked his very first NFL experience.
“It was good to play because it was my first game since November 30,” he explained. “So it’s been a while and felt good to compete against guys you want to beat up a little bit. I think that’s what kind of makes it the most fun. Obviously I wish we won, but it was a good game experience for sure.”
One of the cornerstones of the Chargers defense, Corey Liuget has sat out a few practices recently. However, he was once again his disruptive self from the first snap at CenturyLink Field.
“Physically I felt pretty good,” he said. “I’ve felt ready for football, so I felt pretty good out there.”
Then you have a tested veteran and surefire future Hall-of-Famer in Antonio Gates. He doesn’t need a lot of snaps in the preseason but stil said it was necessary to shake off the rust by taking part in a handful of plays.
“It always feels good to get out there,” he said. “It’s all about timing in this game and getting the speed down. For a guy in my situation, I’ve been around a while and played in well over 100 games. So you just have to get a feel for what’s going on. The game is just the way it is, so it’s like riding a bike for me. You can go a long time without riding a bike, but once you get back on it you feel and find your rhythm again. So that’s what it’s like for me. That contact part is what I needed to experience, so I think I may play even a bit more next week.”
Finally, it’s worth noting that while it wasn’t his first game action of the year, Malcom Floyd caught his first pass in nearly a calendar year after working his way back from a scary neck injury. He led the team with two catches for 30 yards, with both receptions good for first downs. A true professional, M-80 noted how it was a “bittersweet” occasion.
“It was bittersweet to have my first reception in a while because we lost,” he said. “At the same time I got to contribute a little bit. I just wasn’t able to contribute enough to get us a win.” Read