Take a look at top quotes from head coach Brandon Staley, QB Justin Herbert, and RB Austin Ekeler's press conferences after Wednesday's practice.
Head coach Brandon Staley
On if the team 'accomplished all of their goals this week':
"We did, yeah. Great finish. We had some fun out there today. I like the focus and the detail. I thought there was really good competition today out there. I like the vibe out there. I think guys we're serious about getting out there and having a good day of practice. We had good meetings this morning. Then, you kind of create some morale and know that there's a lot of work to do before we come back. Very happy with our players, our coaches, our organization. Now, we get some rest."
On 'the challenge of getting the new defensive pieces clicking':
"We have plenty of time in the offseason. You have meetings in Phase I. Phase II, you can start to go out onto the field and do a little bit of individual, a little bit of group. That's why you take advantage of these practices so that you get your guys in the right mindset for training camp. I think what we try to do is create the right confidence in their assignment and in their technique so when you put shoulder pads on in training camp, you can really go compete, because that's when real football happens. But I think that the good thing is a lot of these new players on defense, they've played in a similar system or they have experience playing in the NFL. You're able to get up to speed a lot quicker. Then, the relationships that we have with them, a lot of them at previous stops, that helps, too. Then, I think the players who were on our team did an excellent job within the position groups of getting these guys up-to-speed, as well. That's what we want to be, we want to be a player-driven program. When you have [S] Derwin James [Jr.] helping [CB] J.C. Jackson, that relationship helps even more than his with mine. Our players did an excellent job of getting everybody up to speed. Same thing on offense — you bring in [TE] Gerald Everett, well, when you have [QB] Justin Herbert helping him out, or [WR] Keenan Allen helping him out, that growth and that acceleration happens better."
On G Zion Johnson:
"I think Zion has come in with a great head on his shoulders. I think he has real confidence. He has all of the things that you look for, physically, in an interior player, but I think his mindset has been impressive to his teammates — the guys like [C] Corey Linsley and [G] Matt Feiler, guys who have played a lot of football, [QB] Justin Herbert, [WR] Keenan Allen. This guy has the right mindset. He comes out here, he trains, he's really prepared in meetings. He goes out here and he practices hard. He owns us mistakes. He doesn't make the same mistake twice. Those are the things that you're looking for in a rookie, especially a first-round pick of his caliber. I think that he's going to improve a lot in training. You can't minimize that transition, for an interior player in the NFL. What [T] Rashawn Slater did last year is abnormal, being an All-Pro player as a rookie, as a lineman. I think that Zion is going to set his own standard of performance. I'm excited to see him in pads because that's where it is for any NFL player, but particularly a lineman. He's stepped right in and fit right in."
On if any players have 'surprised' him this offseason:
"Yes. Guys that kind of come off the top of my head — I think [WR] Jalen Guyton was fantastic in the offseason. I think that this guy made a lot of big plays for us in the spring. He came in, physically, just in great shape. He's moving great. I thought that he was able to move around. He really did a nice job on special teams. We kind of challenged him to be a factor in the kicking game. I think he's looked really good out there. I think that [S] Nasir Adderley has had, I would say, the same impact on defense. [S] Derwin [James Jr.] didn't go full speed in the 7-on-7, but I think Nas really showed up. He was our most productive guy in the spring in the secondary. I think that those two guys, for sure, kind of stood out to me and have prepared well. They're in great shape, physically and mentally. They've been sharp. I thought that they both had quality springs."
QB Justin Herbert
"We got a lot better as a team. We're thankful for so many guys showing up and the opportunity to get better. It's always great when you get all of those guys out together because we have a lot of room for improvement. I figure that we did a lot of that."
On if he studies himself or upcoming opposing defenses when breaking down tape during the upcoming break:
"It kind of depends. Whatever you feel like that day. A lot of it is film from us from the previous years, watching our offense and continuing to master the gameplan, the offensive playbook. But the same time, you can get a head start on opposing teams. I feel like the coaches have done a great job of that so far, so that's kind of on them, but at the same time, you can watch as much as you can."
On 'throwing himself into film study':
"I think the great thing about football, for me, is I need football. I love waking up and going to work and lifting, running, throwing and watching film. I think too much off time can kind of be a burden to me sometimes, so I always look forward to having stuff to do, whether that's watching film or us throwing or being out here for OTAs. I think that's kind of what I look forward to."
On 'how far ahead' the offense is this year compared to at this time last year:
"A ton. I think the best thing for us this year was to have those live 7-on-7 reps. Having that film and being able to watch that over the next couple of weeks, it's going to be huge. Last year, we didn't really have that. We had these walk-through kind of sequences where you got a chance to run through the plays, but at the same time, you didn't get too much going on. For us, I think that's huge. Definitely a lot of film to watch."
RB Austin Ekeler
On his offseason:
"It's been incredible. It's been the same thing that I've always done, really. I feel like coming into this organization, the reason that I'm even standing here was because I was taking advantage of opportunities. Once you get yourself established in the league, you start to see other opportunities open up. My mindset of taking advantage of opportunities never stops. For the most part, people see it in the football realm, but they don't realize that I'm the same guy off the field as well. Been trying to broaden my horizons, my value, my network and just really plant a bunch of seeds all over the place to give myself more options. Really just build and grow. That's really what it is for me, just want to build as much as I can for myself, for my family, for the people around me, for the community. It's a whole ecosystem that I like to implement myself in and give all my energy to. It's just the way that I'm wired. I try to shed some light on these younger guys that have been around a couple of years, to understand that football is really important, but it's not your life. It's a very important part of your life that can provide so much, but there's something beyond, right? Whether it's your community, whether it's yourself. Something that you can find value in something else off the field. That's what I've spent most of my time doing. Also, I live in the gym, too. That's always part of my ecosystem in the offseason."
On RB Isaiah Spiller:
"One thing that has impressed me is him in the meeting room these couple of days. We have a little thing where we go through our scripts before we go out to practice. He's vocal, he's in there. He's showing that he knows what his job is, things like that. He's still making mistakes. He's still learning, but as a rookie, it's a lot of time that you need to put in for the repetitions and just seeing it. It's really nothing that you can simulate in the classroom when you get onto the field. All of those guys are going to have to continue to grow. I'm glad, Spiller's vocal. He's voicing his questions and things like that."
On the backup running back:
"Let's go. I want these guys to come. I'm in the No. 1 spot right now. I want these guys to come challenge me. Like, let's go. Bring it. Come on. Come earn some reps. That's what I want it to be. That's how their mindset it. My mindset is that no one is going to be able to out-do me out here. I'm going to be the most efficient on the field. They're going to want me on the field all the time, but I want you to come and earn. That's the same as it was for me, right? I got an opportunity and I started making plays here and there. They were like, 'Oh, maybe Austin can play a little bit.' It's the same thing that I want to see from these guys. I'm absolutely in my mindset because there's levels to it, right? There's an individual aspect where I have to take care of myself and make sure that I'm contributing to the team so that I have value to this team and I can stay around. Then, there's the team aspect where I also want everyone else on the team to do well so that we can win games. There's different layers. You have to have a different mindset about each layer. As a leader, as a guy that has been around for a while, I need to bring all my guys with me. I need everyone in my room to be doing the best that we can. Not only for themselves on the field, but themselves as a person in general so that they feel like they took advantage of the opportunity and put everything out there. We'll see how it goes. I'm going to be bringing that energy. That's all I can do. It's up to them to take advantage."
On if totaling 20 scrimmage touchdowns 'is realistic' again after last season:
"As an individual, it was pretty good season. 20 touchdowns and 1,500 all-purpose yards. You try to bring that back if you can. For me, they're never really attainable, my goals that I set for myself, it's always to build on what I've done before. That's all in my perception, if I'm building or I'm not. It's always like, 'Hey, let's be more efficient in my fundamentals,' things like that. There's nothing really result-based. It's something that you're always pushing towards, but you can never achieve. Yes, I would love to get another 20 touchdowns — maybe I get more, maybe I get less — but do I feel like I'm being efficient with the opportunities that I get? I had a lot of opportunities to score touchdowns last year, but who knows about this year? We might have [WR] Mike [Williams] popping off in the red zone and he's scoring all of the touchdowns now. Who, in that situation, is getting more opportunities? Last year, it was me getting a lot of them down in the red zone. We'll see where the cards play."
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