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Chargers Camp Report: Trenches in Spotlight as Bolts Practice in Full Pads


The pads were poppin' Monday morning at Jack Hammett Sports Complex.

The Chargers practiced in full pads for the first time in camp, with Monday's session going for almost two hours.

Here are five observations from the fifth day of camp:

1. All eyes on the trenches

Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said it best when describing the 1-on-1 drills between the offensive line and defensive line/edge rushers on the first day of pads.

"When you've got Joey [Bosa] and Khalil [Mack] coming off the edge, that's going to be must see," said Staley, who made sure to get a front row seat when the groups went at it. "The three tackles — Rashawn Slater, Trey Pipkins III and Storm Norton — it's great work for them.

"And it's great work for Joey and Khalil, too," Staley added. "Rashawn is one of the top tackles in all of football, and we think Trey and Storm are really quality tackles."

In those battles, Slater and Mack split their pair of reps, while Bosa got the better of both Slater and Pipkins in their lone matchups. Bosa also won one and lost one against Norton on the edge.

On the inside, Austin Johnson looked solid and Jerry Tillery also had a nice rep against Will Clapp.

Another player that stood out? Rookie right guard Zion Johnson, whose day included several strong reps, including a pancake block. The 2022 first-round pick took four total reps, winning two of them and getting a draw on another.

"Oh man, he was great," Linsely said of Johnson. "He's living up to the bill right now. First day of pads, but it was everything we thought. He's got a ton of raw talent. You can see he's already put a lot together. Honestly, the sky's the limit for him."

Linsley didn't participate in 1-on-1 drills, with Staley noting he doesn't need to see the veteran Pro Bowler in there.

Overall, Staley was impressed by the energy the team brought to Monday's practice.

"I liked the competition in 1-on-1s. We wanted there to be a bunch of them so we could really get a good look at this group," Staley said. "I liked the respect and competition. I thought it was fierce, but there's a lot of respect and a lot of good players going 1-on-1 there.

"We've got to get used to the pads," Staley later added. "This was our first day in them, and we'll be in them [Tuesday]. We'll do a little more, but it was a good start."

2. Bosa's strip-sack ends 2-minute drill

Staley added a 2-minute drill to Monday's practice, the first time the Chargers had done that in camp.

The drill began with 93 seconds on the clock and the offense with the ball at their own 25-yard line.

Bosa and the first-team defense went against the second-team offense, with the star edge rusher ending the drill with a strip-sack on Chase Daniel after just three plays. Bosa pounced on the ball after knocking it loose.

The first-team offense put together a 13-play drive to get inside the 5-yard line, where the unit faced fourth-and-1 with just four seconds left.

But defensive tackle Andrew Brown squeezed through for a sack on Justin Herbert to deny the potential touchdown.

Both series ended with sacks, just on much different ends of the field.

3. Hopkins, Scott get their kicks

Dustin Hopkins also saw his first action of camp in full-team drills Monday.

The veteran kicker had a solid day, making 11 of 13 total field goals. The distances ranged from 25 to 50 yards, with Hopkins' pair of misses both going left (36 and 42 yards). His longest successful kick came from 50 yards out.

A trio of Hopkins' kicks came from 33 yards out — which is the length of an extra point — with the kicker making all three.

New long snapper Josh Harris and punter/holder JK Scott teamed up with Hopkins on the special teams operation.

Speaking of Scott, he had a great day punting the ball.

The newcomer's outing was highlighted by a 59-yard punt that bounced out of bounds at the 1-yard line. Punt returner DeAndre Carter, who opted to let the ball bounce since it was inside the 5-yard line, had praise for Scott from afar after the kick.

"Great [bleeping] punt," Carter hollered.

4. Defense shines on 3rd downs

The offense and defense both had their moments in full-team drills, but Staley's defense won when it counted the most.

Aside from the 2-minute drill, the Bolts three defensive units limited the offense to just one first down on five attempts on third downs.

On one play, Herbert found Gerald Everett on a third-and-9 pass, but the tight end would have been short of the sticks as the defense rallied to the ball.

Herbert later found Mike Williams for a first down, but the play was nullified by a false start.

The only first down for the offense came when Easton Stick found Michael Bandy across the middle on a third-and-3 play.

5. More red-zone work

The Chargers continued to get plenty of work in the red zone, a continuing trend in recent practices.

Josh Palmer made a highlight play with a sliding catch near the sideline with Asante Samuel, Jr., in tight coverage for a 15-yard gain.

Mack would have had a sack later in the drill before Nasir Adderley couldn't hang onto an interception near the sideline that might have been a pick six.

Herbert ended the session on a high note with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Williams over the middle.

Leddie Brown also ran for a 12-yard score, and Jason Moore, Jr., later made an acrobatic, tiptoe catch in the back of the end zone for an 8-yard score.

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