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10 Things to Watch at Chargers Training Camp


1) New Head Coach in Charge Fans will have their first opportunity to see Brandon Staley get to work as head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. Staley led the Rams' top-ranked defense last season. On the final day of mandatory minicamp in June, Staley said his message to the team was a simple one: Our way.

"Hopefully, when we hit the ground on July 27th when they report, they feel really strongly that they can be the best versions of themselves because of all of the work that they've put in," he said. "That's something that you must emphasize at all times. To be the best version of yourself, you really have to work at it. We've really detailed that up so that they can take advantage of these five weeks and really be ready to go on July 27th."

2) All About Justin – Reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert enters his second NFL training camp in a much different situation than his first. In 15 starts beginning in Week 2, Herbert threw for 4,336 yards – 39 yards shy of Andrew Luck's all-time rookie record in one fewer start. Herbert set rookie records in total touchdowns (36), passing touchdowns (31) and completions (396).

3) The Return of Derwin James Jr. – The All-Pro safety, who missed all of last year with a knee injury, was fully cleared for football activities at the start of organized team activities in May. James Jr. totaled 105 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions during his rookie season, helping lead the Chargers to a 12-4 record. Despite not playing in 2020, James Jr. said he's become a better player.

"I feel like I'm smarter," he said. "As crazy as it sounds, I feel like I'm smarter. The game has slowed down a lot for me. I haven't been out there physically to show you all, but the game has slowed down a lot, and I'm very excited."

4) Bosa Brothers Together Again – Defensive end Joey Bosa will be reunited on the football field this summer with his brother, Nick, when the San Francisco 49ers come to town for joint practices on Thursday, August 19 and Friday, August 20. Bosa needs two sacks in 2021 to pass Melvin Ingram (49) for sixth on the Chargers' all-time sacks list. With five, he'll pass Fred Dean (52) for fifth all-time.

5) Rookie Class Ready – Wednesday will also be the first look at the 2021 Chargers rookie class. Los Angeles had nine selections in this year's draft, the most since 2004. Offensive tackle Rashawn Slater (first round, No. 13 overall) and tight end Tre' McKitty (third round, No. 97 overall) were the final two rookies to sign their contracts on Tuesday.

6) New Look O-Line – In addition to Slater, the Chargers' revamped offensive line includes All-Pro center Corey Linsley, and guards Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi. According to Pro Football Focus, Linsley and Feiler combined for 1,582 snaps last season while allowing just three sacks.

7) Kenneth Murray Back to "K-9" – After donning No. 56 in his rookie season, the second-year linebacker will be wearing No. 9, his college number at Oklahoma. Murray set a Chargers rookie record with 107 total tackles in 2020. His 959 defensive snaps last year were the most among any L.A. defender.

8) Eye on Special Teams The clearest path to a roster spot for rookies – drafted or undrafted – is to impact the game on special teams. Earlier this offseason, new special teams coordinator Derius Swinton II said "all of the rookie class, they've really been good at absorbing the things that we've been putting in. I think that they can all contribute at some point." The Chargers will also have three kickers in camp: Michael Badgley, Tristan Vizcaino and Alex Kessman.

9) Ekeler Headlines Young RBs Room Four years ago, Austin Ekeler was an undrafted free agent battling for a roster spot at Chargers training camp. Fast forward to 2021, he's established himself as one of the most versatile backs in the NFL. And at just 26, Ekeler is the veteran leader in a young running backs room. Since Ekeler entered the league, only three other running backs have more receptions than his 212: Alvin Kamara, NO (326); Christian McCaffrey, CAR (320); and James White, NE (264).

10) Herbert to Allen Over the last four seasons, Keenan Allen has averaged 101 catches, 1,195 receiving yards and 6.5 touchdowns. He's appeared in 62-of-64 regular-season games since 2017. The Herbert to Allen connection in 2020 was hot from the start. Allen had a career-high 16 receptions last season in Week 11 vs. the Jets. He was also targeted a career-high 19 times by quarterback Herbert in two separate games (Week 3 vs. Carolina and the aforementioned game against New York). The duo will look to build upon that success this summer at Jack Hammett Sports Complex.

Check out the best photos of the squad rolling in for the start of camp

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