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How the Bolts O-Line Keeps Getting Better Week After Week


Below are three takeaways from Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore, outside linebacker Khalil Mack, right guard Jamaree Salyer and right tackle Trey Pipkins III following their media availability on Thursday:

O-Line relying on strong communication

The Chargers offense was under some heat in Week 3 against Minnesota, but they stood tall on the way to what was an impressive offensive game through the air.

Quarterback Justin Herbert set new career-highs for completions (40) and passing yards (405) and had a massive day, dropping back to pass almost all game with the Vikings consistently bringing the pressure almost every time the quarterback looked to pass.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Vikings blitzed Herbert on 40 of his 47 pass attempts Sunday, good for an 85.1 percent rate.

And it was a constantly improving offensive line unit that had a big part in not only giving Herbert some time, but also being in-sync almost all game in the midst of the chaos.

"The communication is huge," Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore said Thursday. "Certainly, something we emphasized throughout last week, just everybody being on the same page. Whether it was in the run game, certainly in the pass game, everyone organized, knowing what our answers are, how we're going to handle it."

As Moore mentioned, the communication aspect was a big part of the success the offense as they played in one of the loudest and most hostile environments. According to PFF, the unit allowed just four quarterback hurries in 51 pass blocking snaps.

Guard Jamaree Salyer believes this past Sunday's communication will go a long way in building the chemistry as the season goes along.

"That won't be the last hostile environment we play in, that won't be the last blitzing team we play, probably not that much," Salyer said. "Just being able to communicate is probably the most important thing you can do, especially it's six guys including the running back and tight end working together.

"Just making sure everybody is on the same page is huge," Salyer added. "Just keep doing a good job of that going forward."

The Bolts offensive line, which was reshuffled heading into the year, continues to grow more and more, as they gain momentum each week.

"It's something that's kind of a gelling process a little bit," Salyer said. "It's just fairly a newer line for us. A lot of the same guys but newer positions. I'm just learning what this guy likes, what that guy likes and trying to get us on the same page to where we can do things effectively, I think helps us a lot."

And his partner on the right side, tackle Trey Pipkins III, agrees as he notices it in the way the team communicates nonverbally — something that comes from playing together over time.

"It sounds kind of weird, but the more you get to the point where the less you have to obviously communicate about double teams and things like that," Pipkins said. "You don't necessarily want to call out what double teams are going at the line of scrimmage, but sometimes early on, when you're playing with somebody you want to make sure you guys are on the same page and things like that.

Pipkins continued: "The less you have to make that obvious communication, it's like, 'Alright, we're starting to get into a groove. We both know where each other is going to be at'."

"I think it's an every week kind of thing and as long as you can continue to play next to somebody on both sides, we're going to continue to grow and our communication is only going to get better and better, our chemistry is going to get better and better," Pipkins later added. "I think it's just going to be a continuing process."

Now, the Chargers offensive line will get one more opportunity before the bye week to continue to get better as a unit, as they welcome a Raiders defensive line they call "physical."

"They're a great group of guys and they are very talented, Maxx [Crosby] is very talented," Pipkins said. "At the end of the day we just have to execute the same way we did last week and continue to progress."

Salyer added: "They play to the whistle every snap and that's just something that we kind of have to match and set tone for, just playing with that same intensity, the same speed, strength. They have great pass rushers, great players. I'm excited to see how match up against them. It's going to be a physical game, a division game, so it means a lot to us. But also just being able to go into the bye week 2-2 I think would give us a good chance to reset."

Palmer in line to step up again

The entire Chargers wide receiver room will be called upon from here on out as they deal with the absence of Mike Williams, who will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL in Week 3 against the Vikings.

It will be a group effort from the entire offense, as Moore now looks to others who will be able to step up.

"Obviously these things happen in-season when you lose guys," Moore said. "For them, it's a great opportunity to get more chances and certainly there are guys capable of it.

"We're really excited about them handling those different situations, different roles," Moore added.

And one of the receivers in the group is Joshua Palmer, who now steps up in a situation similar to what he saw last season.

Palmer, now in his third season, filled in a big role all year when Keenan Allen, Williams — or both — missed games. He led all Bolts wide receivers in receptions during the 2022 season with 72, finishing the year with 769 yards and some big catches during the season.

He also stepped up in a major way after Williams left the game Sunday in the second half, catching the go-ahead touchdown pass.

Palmer will now asked to do something similar having played a lot of snaps early in his NFL career.

"Josh has played a lot of ball," Moore said about Palmer. "We feel very, very comfortable with him out there. No concerns whatsoever. He did it last year and, obviously, he'll get his chance to do it again this year."

Last season was huge for the rapport between himself and his quarterback, as Herbert credited the Palmer's mentality and doing it all on and off the field.

"He stepped up big time," Herbert said Wednesday about Palmer stepping up last season. "We found out that he's a competitor, he wants to be the best. He wants to go out there, make big plays and he's able to do that.

"We can trust and we rely on him," Herbert added. "You can put him all over the field, a bunch of different positions. He's done a great job picking up everything that we've asked him to do."

Check out the best photos from Bolts Wednesday practice at Hoag Performance Center.

Mack ready for another round vs. Raiders

Khalil Mack will see some familiar colors on Sunday as the Chargers outside linebacker will play his fifth game against the team that drafted him fifth overall in 2014.

"It's always exciting to play the Raiders," Mack said. "It should be a fun one. Can't wait to get out there."

This will be the first time Mack will face the silver and black with Derek Carr not under center, as the quarterback is now with the Saints.

"Definitely going to be a little weird but just looking forward to another opportunity to go out and get a win," Mack said.

Through three games, the Chargers have recorded 9.0 sacks, which is tied for the fifth-most in the league.

Joey Bosa has three of them while Tuli Tuipulotu and Morgan Fox each have a pair. Mack hasn't gotten to the opposing quarterback yet, but he's been close on a few chances.

"Absolutely. Three games in, we're getting there. It's on the way," Mack said.

Mack, who had 3.0 sacks at home against the Raiders in Week 1 last year, is hoping he can get first one Sunday against his old team.

That could be against Jimmy Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer or rookie Aidan O'Connell, all of whom could be the starter at SoFi Stadium.

"It's not really three different guys," Mack said about the defense's preparation. "It's moreso the system and understanding what they want to do. That's the only thing on our minds."

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