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How Alohi Gilman's Calm Presence is Impacting Bolts Secondary

FTP Day 10 TC Updated

Below are three takeaways from Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley, wide receiver Keenan Allen and safety Alohi Gilman's media availability on Tuesday:

Gilman 'cool as the other side of the pillow' in Year 4

Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley on Tuesday had perhaps the line of camp so far.

Speaking at the podium, Ansley was asked about Alohi Gilman and the steadiness the safety brings to the field.

"I think [Gilman] has been calm, as cool as the other side of the pillow," Ansley said with laugh. "He's a guy that has been here for three years now, so a lot of reps have been invested in him, and he's invested a lot into the defense. You can see some of those dividends paying him now."

Gilman could only laugh when he stepped to the podium minutes later and was told about the high praise from Ansley.

"I take that as a compliment, I guess. It's definitely a compliment," Gilman responded with a laugh. "I just try to come out here and be me and do me. That's been my mentality since I was in high school. I just come out here and do me. Have fun, live in the moment.

"Everything just flows the way it should be if you put the right mentality to work," Gilman added. "That means a lot, coming from Coach. He's trying to get some points right there."

Gilman, who's entering his fourth overall season, stepped up in a big way in 2022 when he started a career-high five games, plus one in the postseason.

And even though he's slated to start next to Derwin James, Jr., in 2023, Gilman's approach has not changed entering his fourth season.

"It's the same approach since I stepped in here with the Chargers," Gilman said. "Everything has to be earned here. I don't take that for granted. Every day, I try to come in and earn my spot. I just trained myself to be the best, even when I was a reserve guy, I felt like I was a starter. Some people may not have agreed with it. but I have viewed myself that way.

"I prepared myself that way so when I did get my shot, and I was out there, it was easy for me," Gilman added. "That just comes with my mentality. It's kind of been the story of my life any way, so I'm used to it."

Gilman has turned a strong 2022 season into an impressive camp, recording multiple interceptions and pass breakups over the past few weeks.

"He has gotten his hands on a lot of balls this camp," Ansley added. "He's kind of the guy who's getting everybody lined up, along with Derwin. He's a calm presence back there, very instinctive. He's tough, and he's a great person. We're happy that he's here going into Year 3 with us."

Gilman finding his way to the ball is no coincidence, according to Ansley, as it's a product of the work he's put in.

"I think the biggest thing, when making plays, is knowing what you're supposed to do," Ansley said. "Then, you can focus on what the offense is trying to do to you. He does a really good job of playing the game pre-snap. So, the game post-snap is a lot easier for him, a lot calmer for him.

"That's a testament to his work ethic, on the field and in the classroom," Ansley added. "He's one of those guys that studies. He does a really good job of mentoring the younger guys, the younger safeties, and pushing those guys to be the best they can be. He's doing a really good job for us now and he's going to continue that through the rest of this camp."

The word 'calm' has come up about Gilman with Ansley and others, as it's one of the key traits safety brings to the group.

And it translates to the field as well, leading to his success so far.

"Yes. I mean, we all get those butterflies, those nerves, I guess," Gilman said. "But when I'm out there, I feel like a kid. I feel like playing football for me is fun because it's creative, like I can get creative. I can play the game, I can have fun. That's what drives me to just keep playing.

"Playing against a guy like [Justin] Herbert is awesome on the day-to-day because he keeps you thinking and making sure that you're on your head and your toes to be able to play against him," Gilman added. "For me, it's fun because it's football. That's the way I view it."

Allen assesses offense halfway through camp

The Chargers are officially past the halfway point of training camp.

With 10 practices in the books and eight more to go, Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore and the offense have gotten to see their plan to action on the practice field.

And while they have had some days where the defense has gotten the better of them, it's been largely back and forth between the two sides.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen believes the offense is where they want to be, as there have been some really positive takeaways from the first 10 practices.

"I think we're in a good spot," Allen said. "Everybody is making plays; everybody is explosive, and everybody looks good. [QB Easton] Stick, a second-string guy, he's making the second team look good.

"I like it, I like what we've got going on," Allen added.

The offense has had some good moments throwing the ball down the field, showing the potential of the offensive unit.

And one of the reasons according to Allen has been Moore's willingness to move some players around and fit what's best for the unit, which has led to success so far.

"Kellen is not really a guy who puts guys in spots and leaves them there," Allen said. "He changes the personnel within the play call, he puts guys where he wants them and what's best for the offense."

Moore and offense is continuing to take steps and will have some big upcoming events to do so like next week's joint practices with the Saints.

But one of the biggest takeaways from Allen on the offense is who's under center, as Justin Herbert has looked more comfortable entering his fourth season.

Allen pointed to Herbert taking more command before the snap among other things — something that just comes with time and experience playing the position.

"This guy is way more comfortable. Way more," Allen said about Herbert. "He is way more comfortable. He's changing plays at the line of scrimmage, putting guys in spots, he's vocal. This guy's comfortable."

"It takes time. You've got to find your way in this league," Allen later added. "The more you do it, the more you see the better you get and the more comfortable you get."

Check out the best photos from the Chargers intrasquad scrimmage on the ninth day of Training Camp 2023 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa!

Webb bringing the energy

Safety Mark Webb, Jr., has made his fair share of plays so far at Chargers camp, and he's also provided the defense with some more energy as well.

Webb has played in seven games since joining the Bolts as a seventh-round pick in 2021 and spent last season on the practice squad.

And now in camp so far, Webb has been trying to carve out a role for himself on this defense.

"Mark is bringing a lot of energy out there every day," Ansley said. "He's kind of the firecracker-type of guy. As soon as we get out for walk-through to flex to individual, he's a live wire all day.

"He's getting better at his position. He's communicating better," Ansley added. "He's doing some good things for us."

Webb's biggest play of camp so far came in the intra-squad scrimmage Sunday, as he took an interception back for a touchdown during one of the team sessions.

Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley spoke on Webb's strides following Sunday's scrimmage, but noted the next step in the evaluation will be how the safety performs during the preseason.

"Mark has been a consistent playmaker for us," Staley said about Webb on Sunday. "As you guys know, he has flashed in his two years, but some injuries have kind of sidetracked his progress.

Staley continued: "He's been really focused, form the springtime to now, and so what we've seen is more consistency in his assignments. He has always had ability. We think he's the right guy to be coaching. Then, from a special team standpoint, he has made a big jump with [Special Teams Coordinator] Ryan [Ficken] and [Assistant Special Teams Coach] Chris [Gould]. We think he's going to be a factor.

"In these games, the safeties, you always learn the most when they have to tackle to the ground. The passing game has never been one of Mark's issues," Staley added. "You find out about young safeties when they have to tackle. We'll find out next week. He's athletic, he's versatile. As you guys know, playing at Georgia — those guys are good friends of mine — he's well trained. This is his third year in the system, so we would expect a big jump from him this year."

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