Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, quarterback Justin Herbert and safety Derwin James, Jr.'s media availability on Friday:
Bolts wrap up joint practices
The Chargers work against another opponent has come to an end for now.
The Bolts closed the pair of joint practices with the Saints on Friday after two competitive practices between the teams that saw both first teams get plenty of work. Whether it was in any of the three phases, the team had a big opportunity to learn from it and progress with over three weeks left until the regular season.
Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley enjoys this portion of training camp the most, as it gives his team the chance to improve facing another team.
"This environment is my favorite part of training camp, especially when you play against someone like New Orleans," Staley said. "I said yesterday, [Saints Head Coach] Dennis [Allen] and his staff did a great job. They've been awesome to work with.
"The competition level on both days has been high in all three phases," Staley added. "I think both of us feel like we got better. Now, we get to play the game. It was a really good week for us, for sure."
Both practices were intense and competitive, but above all — clean.
Being able to keep these practices clean and get some good work out of it is something Staley credits everyone on both sides for making happen.
"I think it's the best quality of work since I've been here," Staley said. "It's a credit to both teams — the players, the coaches, the staffs. We have had some visitors over the last couple days who have said something similar.
"I just think it's two teams that have an identity, a culture, and that are used to doing things the right way," Staley added. "All the credit to the Saints and their staff, too, because it's been a lot of fun."
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and his offense were also able to get their first look at another defense as they progress with their new offense.
Having the ability to control certain scenarios in a drill and face a defense who's showing something that they might not show in a preseason games are just some of the benefits Herbert saw from going up against the Saints in Costa Mesa.
"Yeah, I think they can be a little more realistic, at times," Herbert said. "Defenses don't always play what they show in preseason games.
"To be able to go up against a really good defense, a really good team in the Saints, it's always a great opportunity for us to get better," Herbert added.
And not to mention, getting able to be physical against another team and face off against someone different is a great tune up as training camp progresses.
"You get to hit somebody else, go against other people," Chargers safety Derwin James, Jr. said with a laugh. "You get tired of hitting your guys, of course.
"It's always good because you see different looks," James added. "They're a way different team than we've already played. Their system, it's different than us. Just to see someone else is kind of cool."
The attention now shifts to Sunday as the Chargers take on the Saints in preseason play at SoFi Stadium.
Woods shows 'confidence' in joint practices
Safety JT Woods made sure to make himself known during both joint practices in the team sessions.
The 2022 third-round pick was flying around on the ground and through the air. Arguably his best play of the practices came late on Friday during a 2-minute drill.
On the first play of the New Orleans' drive, Derek Carr took a deep shot over the middle to wide receiver Chris Olave that would have given them a big gain. But Woods tracked the ball down and made the play, knocking it away from Olave at the last second and forcing the incompletion.
It was one of many plays Woods made through the two days, and fellow safety James talked about what differences he's seen from him so far in camp.
"It's confidence, being out there in those positions — whether it's JT, Ja'Sir [Taylor], any of those guys," James said. "It's just the confidence in them to make plays, making big plays, in the deep part of the field.
"Once you do that, that's how you need in this league to be able to go out there and go play," James added.
Woods had a productive two days going up against the Saints first team, and earned some more valuable game-like experience as he heads into his second season in the NFL.
Staley credited Woods for his play in both practices, noting how important the reps were for him.
"He has had a solid two days out there, and that was part of the reason why these were two important days for him, to see him out there full-time and see the consistency in performance," Staley said about Woods. "We're, obviously, going to get a good look at him in this game, too."
Woods still has more opportunities to showcase himself and it is just the beginning, but to do it against the talent on New Orleans was no easy task — and he showed strides.
"That's a good team to be going against, offensively," Staley said. "No. 1, because of their quarterback. He is such an experienced player. Our disguise plan and making sure that that's a big part of who we are.
"Having to go against someone like Derek, that's a really good thing for a young player," Staley added. "Then, the quality of the skill position players, it was really good. I think that he's improving, and, again, still a lot to prove."
Check out the best photos from the Bolts hosting the New Orleans Saints on the fifteenth day of Training Camp 2023 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa!
Staley on 'special connection' with Saints' Moreau
The Chargers joint practices with the Saints also led to a special interaction between Staley and New Orleans tight end Foster Moreau.
Moreau announced that he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma back in March. However, he announced in early July that his in full remission and has been with the Saints throughout training camp.
Staley, who also was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma when he was 24.
"It's a special connection, us sharing that cancer journey," Staley said. "It's a fraternity that is unlike any other."
Staley was familiar with Moreau from afar from previous coaches, but his recent diagnosis and recovery was something that he felt a special connection to.
To see Moreau on the field was a special moment for Staley.
"Playing against them the last couple of years, I've always respected his game," Staley said. "We had [former Chargers Run Game Coordinator/OL Coach and current Dolphins Offensive Coordinator] Frank Smith, who was with him at the Raiders, and kind of knew about how good of a guy he is and what a good player he is.
"But then, when you go through something like that, it's just going to connect you forever," Staley added. "To see that he's out here playing in the NFL, living his dream still, just all the respect for him.
As Moreau continues his career in the NFL, Staley hopes he can be there for him in whatever he needs.
Staley continued: "I just always want to be here as a resource, if he needs anything. Really proud of him and just so much respect from afar."
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