Ryan Ficken has gained plenty of knowledge in his previous 15 NFL seasons.
Among the most important? Each season stands on its own merit.
So as the Chargers Special Teams Coordinator enters Year 2 with the Bolts (and Year 16 overall in his career), he isn't too interested in the impact he and his group made a year ago.
"The success that we had last year — you talk about field goals, punt returning, punting and these situations — all of that now is behind us," Ficken said. "It's now what can we do moving forward?
"We have a higher standard now for us," Ficken added. "And we have to go out there, work and compete again."
Ficken helped the Chargers have perhaps their best overall season on special teams in decades.
The Bolts led the league by allowing opponents to average just 3.1 yards per punt return. And they ranked second in field goal percentage (93.94 percent) and third in team average per punt return (11.7 yards).
But with each season comes news storylines and fresh faces, and Ficken is ready to embrace them all.
Perhaps the biggest plot in mid-May is the kicking battle between Dustin Hopkins and Cameron Dicker.
Hopkins is the veteran who made nine of 10 field goals in 2022 but missed most of the season after injuring his hamstring in a Week 6 win over Denver in which he still hit a walk-off field goal.
Dicker was a rookie who hit a pair of walk-off winners and hit 19 of 20 field goals in powder blue.
Ficken on Monday said he's looking forward to what should be a tight battle in camp.
"I'm excited. They had a great year, both of them," Ficken said. "Obviously, Dustin was doing a great job before he went ahead and had the misfortune of getting injured.
"That's how every roster is structured. You want to have that competition at every position," Ficken continued. "That's what's exciting because [Chargers Head] Coach [Brandon] Staley and [General Manager] Tom [Telesco], they've structured the roster exactly that way, and that's what brings out the best in these guys. I'm really excited.
"They've done a great job the last couple of weeks. We're going on our third week of Phase Two," Ficken added. "Really, they start kicking in front of the team just so they can show the work that they've been putting into this offseason so they can go ahead and compete and win that battle."
Ficken noted the evaluation process has already started on Hopkins and Dicker, and that it will include how each performed last season.
The main points of emphasis? Consistency and ball flight, Ficken said.
"I'm just excited about those guys because they handle it as true pros," Ficken said. "They're really eager to go ahead and compete for that job."
Take a detailed look at who the Bolts will face in the 2023 season!!
The Chargers won't have to worry about a punter battle as JK Scott was re-signed this offseason after a stellar 2022 season.
"I was very excited [for him to come back]. I think the whole organization was, too," Ficken said. "We're very fortunate to be able to bring him back, have the organization support him.
"He believes in the organization, too," Ficken said. "We feel he had a really good year, but he complemented our unit and what we were trying to achieve as a unit. You saw the success that we were able to have."
Ficken also has his eye on a pair of rookies ahead of Organized Team Activity practices that begin next week.
Ficked said Daiyan Henley, a third-round linebacker out of Washington State, could have a big role on special teams in his first season.
"He was our top core guy, out of all positions that we wanted to bring in. We're very fired up about him," Ficken said. "What impressed me the most about him is that he was a starter on defense, and yet he was still able to make a huge impact on special teams.
"He takes a lot of pride in that, which I thought was great," Ficken added. "When we met him when he came in for his top-30 visit, I introduced myself and the first thing he said was, 'Have you seen my special teams tape?' That's really exciting."
Ficken said he's also looking forward to seeing fourth-rounder Derius Dais get reps at both returner spots but noted that the former TCU standout won't just be handed the job.
"The success that he had gives our team a lot of opportunities to go ahead and have some big plays in those return phases, which we're excited about," Ficken said of Davis, who has 4.36-second speed. "Like I told him going through this whole process, he has to go ahead and earn this position.
"Nothing is going to be handed to him. We have some guys that are capable that can go ahead and do it on the roster, as well," Ficken added. "He's also competing with other guys throughout the league, but he's excited for that challenge."
And Ficken is excited for the yearly challenge that comes on special teams.
Besides the kicking battle, he'll work to take different players on the roster and mold them into contributors in the all-important third phase of the game.
All while looking to build off the success of his first season with the Bolts.
"We're always going to have a sense of urgency in what we do. Last year doesn't mean anything," Ficken said. "Moving forward, we didn't do enough to go ahead and win the games and get the Super Bowl trophy here.
"At the end of the day, I'm very excited about this group. I understand some of what these players are and what they're made of, the veterans that have been here," Ficken continued. "I have to utilize them a little bit and put them in better situations to be successful, so that part I feel very comfortable.
"Other than that, no, we're starting from scratch," Ficken added. "We have to make sure we pump up the urgency and get the most out of all of these guys."
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