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Why Eric Kendricks Has Thrived Since Joining the Chargers

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Eric Kendricks has his priorities in line right now.

The Chargers linebacker has navigated through the first three-plus months with his new team and will now focus on family before training camp begins next month.

"Just heading into the offseason, I get to spend some time with my son and my wife. He's six weeks old It's going to be pretty cool," Kendricks said last week. "Obviously, football is important, it's at the forefront, but I have to take a little time to get that in order as well at home. It's going to make me play better, as well."

When Kendricks and the rest of the Bolts report for camp, the veteran will already have a sense of his teammates and the locker room.

Kendricks spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Vikings before signing with the Bolts as a free agent in mid-March.

The former All-Pro and Pro Bowler didn't take long to stand out, as coaches and teammates praised his easy transition to a new squad.

"I think that you guys have probably seen it, talking to him and his teammates," said Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley. "He's fitting right in. He's a competitor. He's such a complete player. He has so much experience.

"It's important that when you're bringing guys in from the outside, that they're going to add your football team," Staley added. "He's done that in a short amount of time. He has a great way about him. He's humble. He's learning, too, at times. But he has just so much experience to draw from."

Defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day added: "He has a great personality. We're always yukking it up outside the locker room. He's a good dude. I really like Eric. I like the energy that he brings."

Kendricks said when he joined the Bolts that his initial focus was going to be on acclimating himself to a veteran locker room.

And he's proven that to be true, even as the football side of things have been a bit of a learning curve in a new defense.

"I'm definitely more familiar with my alignments and things like that, but terminology and stuff like that, I'm still learning from some of the vets," Kendricks said. "K9 [Kenneth Murray, Jr.] has been helping me a lot.

"I think the biggest thing is the locker room. I feel like I fit in with the locker room," Kendricks added. "It's a bunch of guys who care and are all about ball. I can't really ask for more besides to go out there on Sunday and play hard."

Now that Kendricks has mastered his first few months with the Bolts, he knows his play on the field will soon take the spotlight.

The 31-year-old is expected to wear the green dot this season as the main defensive communicator and the one who relays Staley's play calls in from the sideline.

Kendricks has experience with that role but it also came in a place where he knew his teammates and the scheme like the back of his hand.

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Joseph-Day and safety Derwin James, Jr., — players who play at the levels in front of and behind Kendricks — said the linebacker's early communication skills have been superb.

"Eric brings quick and concise communication. That's what you need at that position — quick and concise communication, confidence," Joseph-Day said. "He's done a great job helping us get lined up and making the calls. He's a very smart player and a great player as well. We're super excited to have him.

"It feels great [to bring him in]. It means that it's not a facade. It's authentic, not fabricated. It's a compliment to us and he fits right in," Joseph-Day added. "Like I said, great player, great person. It's been fun. He's doing a great job of communicating. We just have to keep building off it."

James said: "I love E.K., E.K. is a baller. It's good having E.K. in the middle. Confident guy. He's still learning everything, it's kind of new to him, but he's going to get it here soon."

Over the past three years, Staley has focused heavily on implementing a culture that allows players to thrive on and off the field in powder blue.

Kendricks has certainly checked the first box by quickly becoming a team leader. The more important test — helping the Bolts make a deep playoff run — looms in the coming months.

"For a player of his caliber, of his accomplishments — he's an All-Pro, Walter Payton Man of the Year, this is one of the top players that has position over an entire decade — so that respect means a lot," Staley said. "I'm really happy that he's proud to be a part of us. I love that the fact he's fit in so well with his teammates.

"I know that he's going to help us be a championship-caliber team. I think that should make all of us feel like we're on the right track," Staley continued. "But I also know that he is going to really add to what we have. He's going to help make our culture even better, even stronger.

"That's what's been fun for me to see is for all of it to take shape," Staley added. "But now we have to go put in the work during training camp, because that's where the hard work really is done."

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