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Bolts Defense Focused on Day-By-Day Improvement

FTP 06.07

Below are three takeaways from Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley, center Corey Linsley and cornerback Asante Samuel, Jr.'s media availability on Wednesday:

Approaching it day-by-day

The Bolts Organized Team Activities are reaching the end of the road.

The Chargers took the field for their eighth OTA practice Wednesday, with only one left this week before the start of mandatory minicamp next week.

The defensive side of the ball continues to progress with a new voice in Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley, who said Wednesday the work done by the defense so far has been positive and will continue to progress as the offseason moves along.

"It's going well. Our guys are working every day," Ansley said during his media availability. "Every day is a new theme. We've installed a good bit of our defense, so the guys are digesting that at a good pace so far."

The defensive unit is bringing back the bulk of last year's core, a group that showed a lot of positive play in the back half of the season despite numerous injuries.

But the improvement in 2023, according to Ansley, will come from the work they put in right now — and by not looking too ahead of the present.

"Take it day-by-day, one day at a time," Ansley said. "Keep the main things the main things; blocking, tackling and takeaways. Don't get ahead of ourselves.

"Work on the fundamentals of your position, make sure that your unit is together collectively and just do it one day at a time," Ansley added.

The Chargers will have one more OTA session on Friday before the team begins two days of mandatory minicamp Tuesday and Wednesday. Training camp is set to start in late July.

But as Ansley reiterated, the work is done day-by-day until then and beyond.

"Same as, take it one day at a time," Ansley said. "We have to get through Friday, make sure that we finish OTAs the right way.

"Then, once we get into Minicamp — you know, there will be some different people out there that we have to cover — so it will be a really good challenge for us to finish this thing off going into August," Ansley added.

Check out the best photos from OTA #7 of the Chargers 2023 offseason

O-line focused on improving run game

The Bolts offensive line this year will have a couple of moving pieces on the inside, but in the middle of it all will be veteran center Corey Linsley, who is preparing with his third season in the powder blue.

Linsley has been a stable force at center for the Bolts and enters this season with Zion Johnson slated to be to his left and Jamaree Salyer to his right.

That is why Linsley says this offseason, specifically in training camp, has been and will be about getting things down and making sure everything is down by the time Week 1 rolls around.

"Throughout camp, it will be the communication, the fits and the combos and stuff," Linsley said. "Those guys inside, they're workhorses, man.

"Obviously, we're glad to get Rashawn [Slater] back and Pip [Trey Pipkins III], glad to get him back as well and re-sign him," Linsley added. "Hopefully, the goal through camp is to build that continuity. I feel like we communicate really well. Now, it's just about getting the feel for everything down."

An area of improvement for the Bolts this year for Linsley comes on the ground, where he felt like the run game was lacking in 2022.

But Linsley feels improvement in that department even in OTAs, as there are aspects that have improved so far.

"I think, overall, it's really obvious. The run game lacked," Linsley said. "Protection game, I think we can be better. That's what this offseason, a lot of it has been about, from a protection standpoint. The communication, the simplification of everything.

"Also, just relying on our instincts more and helping out everybody as much as we can. I feel like we're making a lot of improvement, even right now," Linsley added. "The run game, we'll take accountability for that."

Running the ball effectively is a point of emphasis entering training camp and into the season, as it is something the offensive line wants to turn around and make it a strength.

"I'm sure you could pick it apart to a bunch of different reasons, but ultimately, up front, that's something that we take pride in. We want to run the ball," Linsley said. "Every O-Line in the NFL wants to run the ball. For us to fall significantly below our standard, I think that's in the back of our mind and has been.

"That will be a key point for us all throughout camp and continuing on in the season," Linsley added.

Check out the best photos from OTA #6 of the Chargers 2023 offseason

Samuel entering Year 3

Asante Samuel, Jr., has seen his fair share of NFL experience but make no mistake — he's still one of the young guys.

The Bolts 2021 second-round pick is entering his third season in the pros and coming off an impressive season in Year 2. Samuel played in every game last season and continued to be a consistent force in a secondary that suffered some injuries.

Even entering his third year in the NFL, the 23-year-old Samuel still considers himself one of the younger guys and continues to try to improve as he gains more and more experience.

"No, I still feel like a young guy," Samuel said with a laugh. "We still have great players that have put a lot of time into this league. I'm still young, compared to a lot of these guys.

"I'm still trying to learn from them," Samuel added. "Whatever they want to give off and teach us, we're open ears. Just trying to get better."

Samuel also talked about the relationship between himself and players even younger than him, mentioning how it is a collaborative effort to continue to try and improve.

"If they ask me questions, I'm open to answer them," Samuel said. "We're all grinding together, we're all learning together. We're still trying to get better together.

"We're helping each other — they might help me, I might help them. It's a team," Samuel added.

Samuel has logged over 1,600 defensive snaps in his first two seasons with the Bolts and will continue to be an important player in the secondary in 2023 as he enters a big year as one of the leaders.

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