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Three Takeaways: Reunited Teammates Bryce Callahan and Christian Covington Explain the Chargers' 'Special Group' on Defense

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Below are three takeaways from defensive lineman Christian Covington and cornerback Bryce Callahan's press conferences on Monday.

Familiarity with Staley, defensive scheme drew Callahan to L.A.

As Callahan patiently waited to sign with a team through free agency, he received a call shortly after the NFL Draft from head coach Brandon Staley that the Bolts were interested in adding the cornerback to the roster.

"I was excited," Callahan sad of getting the call from Staley. "A familiar face. It's the same kind of defense that I've been in my whole career, so I knew that if I came here, I'd be comfortable and get in and hit the ground rolling. That played a big part in choosing [here]."

Callahan said that Staley's scheme is about '90 percent similar' to the scheme he learned from former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. During his time in Chicago and Denver, he mainly started as a slot corner but he explained his comfort lining up as the inside or outside cornerback.

"I feel comfortable playing either inside or outside," he said. "Like I said, I've played in this scheme — this is going to be my eighth year, so I know it pretty well. I feel like I'm giving experience to either inside or outside. I feel pretty comfortable playing both."

Callahan also reunites with OLB Khalil Mack and joins a secondary led by safety Derwin James. He expressed his excitement of joining a "dangerous defense" that features a versatile defender like James.

"I can't wait," Callahan said. "Last year, I was watching him and he was playing every position. He was doing it all. It's going to be exciting because I know that he is going to know what to do in different positions and different plays and stuff like that. He's just real knowledgeable of the game. That's going to be exciting."

Building a 'brotherhood' on defense

As veteran defensive lineman Christian Covington prepares for his eighth season in the NFL and second year with the Bolts, he knew he wanted to be part of 'building something special' the moment he first got to L.A. last season.

On Monday, Covington expressed he's 'excited as ever' for the 2022 season and called it a 'blessing' to be able to re-sign with the Chargers. He talked about how the defense is building chemistry during the offseason.

"The offseason has been going great with this team," Covington said. "We're getting it in the weight room, we're getting it on the field. We're coming together as a true brotherhood right now. Competition is competition at the end of the day. I'm happy to be here. I'm ready to fight. I'm ready to work. I know no matter what that this team is going to be successful, so I'm ready to contribute in any way I can."

Covington talked about contributing to the Bolts defense in 2022 by focusing on making an impact as a pass rusher and upping his sack total from last season. He also explained his role as a veteran defensive lineman and his thoughts on all the new additions to the Bolts defense this offseason.

"This is a special group," he said. "A really special group from every single position that everybody sees. Everybody knows the type of guys that we've brought in. Everybody knows the caliber [of these guys], what they bring to the table and what they will bring to the table every Sunday. To be able to contribute to that front, from a veteran's perspective, that's my job. I'm going to do whatever it takes to bring that success on the field."

Covington went into detail into what defensive linemen Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson have added to the Bolts D-line room.

"[DL Sebastian] Bash [Joseph-Day], what a tremendous guy he is with the presence and vocal leadership that he brings and [DL] Austin Johnson. It's been really fun getting to know these veterans...They know what to expect from themselves and know what to expect from us as a defensive line. They know what it takes to be successful and what to bring every single day."

'No pressure, no diamonds' mindset on defense

For Covington and Callahan this is actually the second time the two defenders have been teammates as they played college football together at Rice from 2011-2014. Now reunited on the Bolts, the two talked each talked about the defense the Bolts have assembled and the expectations that come with that.

Covington gave insight into the mindset that the Bolts defense has as they get ready for the 2022 season.

"No pressure, no diamonds," Covington said. "It's that simple. We know what's at stake. We know the type of guys that they've brought in. There's an expected level that the outside world is expecting them to be able to perform on the field, but everybody that I've been able to come across this offseason so far, they hold themselves to that level. That's just expected. At this point of these guys careers, we're talking about veterans. They know what to expect. They know how to approach the game the right way, the professional way. We all expect more from ourselves than the outside world does. That's the mindset that we're taking into the season."

Callahan, who said it takes everybody doing their job to have success in the Chargers' scheme, talked about what they need to do to get all the pieces on defense acclimated.

"Hopefully, we can get it rolling in training camp, then into the season," Callahan said. "We just have to get out there with each other and start playing, start knowing how each other plays, where my help will be and stuff like that. It's just going to take time on the field. Hopefully, we'll get it rolling. I feel like we have a very smart group of guys out there, so it shouldn't be too long."

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