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Bolts Begin Week 0 as Regular Season Opener Looms

FTP 08.29

Below are three takeaways from Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley, tackle Rashawn Slater and defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day's media availability on Tuesday:

Bolts kick off Week 0

The Chargers returned to the practice field Tuesday to kick start Week 0, the gap week ahead of the regular season opener.

Even with no game to look forward to at the end of the week, this period is crucial for the final fine-tuning before the first game week.

Defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day has grown appreciative of this Week 0 period, as it gives him the chance to improve on the little things before the first game.

"I actually appreciate this time," Joseph-Day said. "Going into my sixth season, there are little things that you want to fine tune in your game.

"Little things that you might have seen versus the Saints [in joint practices], that you may not have seen playing your own guys — different looks and different schemes," Joseph-Day added. "Now you get to go back, look and see what the things that probably gave you problems that an individual player will be able to hone in on those things."

The Bolts will continue practices this week before attacking the first game full steam ahead when the week turns.

But this gap before Week 1 is another opportunity for Joseph-Day to continue to get better and make the most of it on the eve of regular season.

"I'm really appreciative of this time, 12 days to get better," Joseph-Day said. "I still consider this camp, it's not over yet. It's not over until that first game.

"I just try to make the most of each day, try to chop wood and carry water," Joseph-Day added. "Lock in on each day, try to make the most of it."

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Ansley 'thankful' for 1st NFL playcalling experience

Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley's first year in the role at the NFL level has been a major opportunity for him to grow.

Ansley, who is now in his third season with the Bolts, took over the mantle as an NFL defensive coordinator in February for the first time in his career. Ansley has been a defensive coordinator before and called plays before, but at the collegiate level.

And during Friday's preseason finale in San Francisco, the first-year DC got an opportunity to call a full game for the first time in the NFL.

Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley holds the job of calling plays but said before the preseason that Ansley would get an opportunity to do so at times throughout some of the games.

But Friday saw Ansley call the game from start to finish, an opportunity he was very appreciative about.

"First, Coach [Staley] didn't have to give me that opportunity, so I'm very thankful that he did," Ansley said. "Obviously, he calls the plays, and we do a good job of assisting him to give him the things that he needs to call the game at a high level."

Ansley was presented a game ball in the postgame locker room, as Staley praised the defensive coordinator following the game.

"Well, you know, it's not [Ansley's] first-time calling defenses," Staley said about Ansley postgame on Friday. "He's been a coordinator before, but first time in the NFL. Smooth operation, guys played well, we executed."

Ansley called the plays, but the defensive coordinator credited the work of the entire staff and the players for Friday's defensive performance that held the 49ers to 12 points and forced three turnovers.

"It's hats off to our staff, our staff did a really good job of getting prepared for San Fran," Ansley added. "[Defensive Run Game Coordinator/OLBs Coach] Jay [Rodgers] and [Outside Linebackers Coach] Giff [Smith], with the front, [Linebackers Coach] Jeff [Howard] and [Front Seven Specialist] Mike [Hiestand] with the middle pieces, the linebackers, and then [Defensive Passing Game Coordinator/Secondary Coach] Tommy [Donatell] and [Assistant Secondary Coach] Will [Harris] with the secondary.

"They made my job easy," Ansley added. "We just try to call the game and let the players go out there and play. There are no perfect calls, there are no special calls, it's all about the guys in between the lines."

Check out the best shots from the Chargers Preseason Week 2 game against the Saints at SoFi Stadium

Slater eager ahead of return

Even with Week 1 being 12 days away, it's safe to say left tackle Rashawn Slater is more than amped to finally get back on the field after a long absence in 2022.

"Oh, I can't wait," Slater said. "It's been a long time. It literally feels like the last few years have been like take a year off, then back.

"A year off, back. It feels like it's been forever," Slater added. "I can't wait."

The third-year tackle played in just three games last season after suffering a biceps injury in Week 3.

And while being out with an injury for an extended period of time was something new for Slater, he likened the situation to when he took a year off football in 2020 to prepare for the NFL Draft.

"Yeah, a little bit," Slater said. "From when I got hurt, I kind of tried to look at it like that. Another opportunity to take that gap and grow.

"I've been looking at that and definitely kind of used it as a mental [motivator], like, I've done this before," Slater added. "A little bit."

Slater enjoyed a full offseason and proved during training camp why he is still one of the best left tackles in the NFL, battling against some of the league's best in Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack during the team drills and in 1-on-1 drills.

Although he didn't get game action during the preseason, the work with Bosa and Mack in addition to the joint practice sessions from weeks ago have helped prepare him with the regular season coming up soon.

"It's as about as close to game action — well, shoot. I don't know if you realize, but going against Khalil [Mack] and Joey [Bosa] every day, man," Slater said. "It's a real thing.

"It's great. That's when it always feel real, kind of, is when you get a chance to go against another team," Slater added. "That week was definitely huge for just feeling comfortable, feeling ready."

The offense as a whole now has time to fine tune some things ahead of Week 1, but the excitement Slater feels for his return is the same for the group — one that he think has big expectations.

"I think it's incredibly high," Slater said. "We have all eight of us, I think, with depth, we're all working really hard.

"I think we've all had a great preseason," Slater added. "I think the sky is the limit."

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