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Anthony Lynn Breaks Down 'Young, Hungry' Chargers Running Backs Room


In any other year, the first week of August would be chock-full of news and notes from training camps around the NFL as teams prepare for their first preseason game.

Instead, head coach Anthony Lynn explained Tuesday that the Chargers have been focused on walk-throughs and reacclimating to football during their first few days together, with padded practices set to start later this month. Here are a few highlights from Lynn's Zoom press conference.

Mistake-free football equals team success

Several questions for Lynn were related to quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who the head coach said is his No. 1 quarterback entering camp.

Taylor hasn't started an NFL game since 2018, but he and Lynn spent three years together in Buffalo, including Taylor's Pro Bowl season in 2015.

"He has a business-like approach," Lynn said of Taylor. "He's a pro and he's an exciting quarterback. He understands the concept and philosophy of taking care of the football and not losing games. We're excited to see what he can do. He hasn't started in a couple years and he's going to get the opportunity this year, and I think he's going to be just fine."

Taylor's career interception percentage is 1.5 percent. As a starter, he's never had more than six in a season.

Lynn complemented Taylor for throwing "one of the best deep balls in the game." He said he'd like for his quarterback to further improve upon his anticipation and play between the hashes, especially with the presence of a tight end like Hunter Henry.

Most importantly, though, Taylor possesses Lynn's key ingredient for winning: playing mistake free.

"You want to turn a guy loose and make plays, but at the same time in this league I really believe you lose more games than you win, and if you take care of the football your chances are a lot better – at least that's what the analytics say."

Justin Jones a 2020 breakout candidate

On Monday, defensive end Joey Bosa was quick to praise third-year defensive tackle Justin Jones. Lynn shared in that enthusiasm for Jones.

"Justin, I'm looking for him to have a breakout season this year," Lynn said. "It's been coming and he took it to another level last year. He drew a lot of double teams because of that, but we're going to try to put him in some situations to free him up a little bit more. He's in great shape right now."

Jones started 12 games last season, totaling 30 tackles and three quarterback hits. He will be part of a defensive tackle rotation that includes free-agent acquisition Linval Joseph and the team's first-round pick in 2019, Jerry Tillery.

Breaking down a 'young, hungry' running backs room

Few know the running back position better than Lynn. He played it for six NFL seasons and coached it for 14.

The average age of the Chargers' running backs is 23 years old. Lynn referred to them as "a bunch of young, hungry, talented guys."

The oldest is 25-year-old Austin Ekeler, who was an undrafted rookie three seasons ago. Lynn said he prefers to use Ekeler in the tandem role because of his versatility.

He mentioned Justin Jackson as being potentially the key to the backfield in 2020. The third-year player from Northwestern made big plays for the Chargers during the team's run to the playoffs in 2018, but was slowed by injuries last year.

"We're going to have to figure out a way to keep him healthy and keep him on the field, but when he's on the field he'll make plays for us," Lynn said.

Then there's fourth-round pick Joshua Kelley. As a rookie, Kelley will have to be both a core special teamer and a contributor in the backfield, according to Lynn.

"There's some things that he may be able to do differently than the other two guys," he said of Kelley.

Derrick Gore also returns in 2020 after Lynn praised the way he finished training camp last season. He noted it was one of the more difficult cuts the team had to make.

But perhaps the biggest competition this training camp is at fullback between Gabe Nabers and Bobby Holly. The pair of undrafted free agents will compete for the spot vacated by Derek Watt, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason.

"Big shoes to fill right there now," Lynn said. "Derek Watt was a savvy veteran. And so, it's going to be a learning curve for these young men, for sure, but they both have the body type and skill to step in that role and help us this year. So, it's going to be a pretty good competition right there."

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