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3 Observations: Chargers Hold Most Competitive Practice of Camp So Far


The Chargers were in full pads Tuesday for a two-hour practice.

And it was the Bolts most competitive practice of training camp.

The team is off Wednesday before welcoming the Saints to town for joint practices Thursday and Friday.

Here are three observations from today's practice:

1. A feisty OT session

The Chargers put together an action-packed overtime period that saw the starters go up against the reserves with the score tied at 31.

Easton Stick's group was up first but their drive stalled near midfield after the quarterback was pressured by Khalil Mack and Derwin James, Jr. notched a pass breakup.

Justin Herbert's unit then took over at their own 25-yard line but they went three-and-out as Michael Jacquet forced an incompletion on a third-down pass for Mike Williams.

Stick's group trotted out but couldn't get any momentum. Kenneth Murray, Jr., tallied a tackle for loss on second down before a false start forced the offense into third and long before the punt unit came on.

Undrafted rookie free agent AJ Finley then made perhaps the play of camp when he came up with a diving interception on a pass intended for Gerald Everett.

With Stick's group starting in defensive territory at the 41-yard line, they picked seven yards to set up a 52-yard field goal try from Cameron Dicker. But his potential game-winner was wide right as Herbert's group then took over possession at their own 42.

With only two minutes left on the clock, Herbert hit Donald Parham, Jr. for 20 yards before passes to Keenan Allen (seven yards) and Everett (19 yards) put the offense in the red zone.

Th unit whittled the clock down inside 20 seconds before Dicker came back on and hit a walk-off, 29-yard field goal to seal a 34-31 win for the starters that took up nearly the entirety of the 10-minute overtime session.

2. The pads were popping

The competitive nature of practice started early during a full-team drill that focused on the running game.

Austin Ekeler started the drill with a run but was corralled by James and Sebastian Joseph-Day. The running back was then met by Joey Bosa and JT Woods near the line of scrimmage on the next play.

The ensuing play was a third-and-1 situation that saw Isaiah Spiller run to the left, but he was brought down for a 4-yard tackle for loss by Eric Kendricks.

With plenty of juice on the defensive sideline, the offense then fired back when Herbert hit Williams for a 60-yard touchdown that caused plenty of chattiness from the offensive group.

That sequence fielded the next drill when offensive and defensive players lined up 10 yards from each other in a tackling session.

Murray and fellow linebacker Daiyan Henley were both physical in the drill, while the battle between Ekeler and Kendricks was one of the best of the day.

Joshua Kelley provided a highlight when a collision with Mikel Jones caused the rookie linebacker's helmet to pop off.

The intensity then kept up in a 'Gotta Have It' session where the offense had the ball at their own 2-yard and needed a first down to win the drill (and get away from their own end zone).

Herbert hit Quentin Johnston for seven yards before Zander Horvath bulled his way for a 3-yard gain to secure the win for Herbert's group.

Stick's group came up short, however, as Chris Rumph II tallied a strip-sack that was recovered in the end zone by Christopher Hinton for a touchdown.

The competitiveness lasted through practice's final drill when the offense held the ball in the red zone down by three points and with just 25 seconds left.

Herbert fired incomplete on a pair of passes before Dicker came on to kick a game-tying, 30-yard field goal. Stick's group didn't need a kicker as the quarterback found Kelley for a 2-yard touchdown on the final play of practice.

All in all, it was the most spirited intense of Chargers camp so far ... and also a sign that the Bolts are ready to practice against someone wearing a different helmet.

Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore smiled when asked after practice if Tuesday was the most spirited session of camp.

"It's certainly been really competitive," Moore said. "We got in some really tight situations, as far as overtime and some low red zone stuff. I thought there was some really good work in there."

Check out the best photos from the thirteenth day of Training Camp 2023 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa!

3. Dicker has solid day

Dicker's first kick of the day was the 52-yard try in overtime that missed to the right. But he rallied by making his next seven kicks to cap off a solid outing.

Dicker was 1 of 2 in overtime and then made all five of his field goal tries in a kicking session, He was true from 32, 46, 40, 42 and 45 yards.

Add in the 30-yarder that tied the game late in practice, and Dicker was seven of eight on kicks on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old has now made 52 of 58 field goals (89.7 percent) in training camp. Dustin Hopkins dressed out in pads but did not kick in practice.

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