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Here's What Brandon Staley Learned About the Bolts in Training Camp


Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, wide receiver Quentin Johnston, outside linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu and linebacker Daiyan Henley's media availability on Wednesday:

Bolts close out camp

After 18 practices, the Chargers wrapped up training camp Wednesday in Costa Mesa.

The team closed out the final practice with a nearly two-hour padded practice, continuing the high-level work they displayed all throughout — in addition to the back-and-forth battles between both sides of the ball.

With the training camp chapter coming to a close, Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley was pleased with how the team brought it daily, closing out the same way they started ahead of a big stretch coming up.

"I think that we were able to finish training camp today the right way knowing that we have Week 0 next week where you got to take advantage of three practices to build yourself up for Week 1," Staley said. "I'm proud of the way these guys have competed in training camp.

"I thought last week the work against New Orleans was invaluable and then these two practices this week have been really solid work so we're ready to go for Friday night," Staley added.

The intense battles throughout were big for the rookies, who got their first look at an NFL training camp.

And Chargers third-round pick Daiyan Henley joked that although the days are long, his first training camp was much better than what he was doing this time last year.

"Man, it's tough, long, rugged days but it's better than going home and having homework," Henley said with a chuckle. "But just being here, I would definitely say this first training camp was fun and a lot of learning."

In Staley's third training camp as a head coach, he believes one aspect of the team has grown throughout his time with the Bolts.

When asked about the team's belief as the years have gone on, Staley highlighted this strong camp as an example, as the team prepares to prove itself with the season on the horizon.

"I think from the beginning our expectations were to win every game that we play," Staley said. "I don't think our expectations have changed at all since we've been here. I think the belief since we've gotten here has grown. I think we established that belief in my first season, but I think it's just grown and grown each and every day that we've been together.

"I think going into this training camp, this group has put in a lot of really good work, and now we're ready to prove ourselves," Staley added.

Check out the best photos from the seventeenth day of Training Camp 2023

One final chance

Not only does the Chargers final preseason game Friday mark the official turning of the page to the regular season, but it's the last time for players on the roster to make their final impressions.

The Bolts have seen a number of younger players get meaningful run during the joint practices and the first two preseason games.

But as Staley noted, Friday's game is just as big in the process of evaluating the talent.

"This preseason game is going to be important for us, finishing the evaluation on a lot of young guys and guys who are competing for roles on this team," Staley said. "We're going to try to go San Francisco and win this football game and give the guys the right opportunity to be able to showcase what they need to so we can make the best decisions that we can."

It's also the last time some of the rookie draft class can make an impression for the regular season, as they look to carve out a role on both sides of the ball.

The first two preseason games have been big for the rookies to get their first in-game feel of the NFL and gain more confidence.

For a rookie the learning doesn't stop even with camp done, but the preseason games go a long way in helping them feel more and more comfortable as a pro.

"It went pretty well, I guess. I made a play, but for sure a lot of plays I left out there, so just have to keep stacking days," outside linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu said about his second preseason game.

"I feel way more comfortable compared to the first game to the second game," Tuipulotu added. "Hopefully I can keep building and keep getting better."

The first two preseason games have been big for the rookies to get their first in-game feel of the NFL and gain more confidence.

And as valuable as the practices are, in-game action is just as important when it comes to the learning process for those starting their NFL careers.

"Just these two preseason games, being able to be out there and get into the motions with my teammates and be able to have that communication, I think those have been the biggest parts," Henley said. "It's helped slow things down, for sure. It's making practice easier. You play your best when you practice your best. I think that's all trying to translate."

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

Johnston recaps 1st camp

Quentin Johnston's game is heading in the right direction.

The Chargers first-round pick had an up-and-down performance in the preseason opener but bounced back with three catches — on three targets — for 37 yards against the Saints.

Johnston said Wednesday that he approached practice last week with a renewed focus.

"A step better, for sure. First one, I felt like I was confident to a certain extent," Johnston said. "But looked back at the tape and had a few drops. That was something that is unacceptable, especially at this level.

"So, I took that hard," Johnston added. "The next week I went harder than I did the week before and came back and feel like I did much better."

Staley said Wednesday that he likes where Johnston's game is at as camp comes to a close.

"I'm really pleased with his development. From rookie minicamp to now, just the improvements he's made as a player," Staley said. "I think what we wanted to establish — and he showed it on the practice field — is that he belongs out there.

"He's made plays consistently throughout camp, really since the spring time, and just needs to stay on track," Staley added.

Johnston said his goal over the next few weeks is to continue to build a rapport with Justin Herbert before Week 1.

"I feel like he trusts me, for sure. Obviously, still a work in progress," Johnston said. "I'm still fairly new and haven't been in a full-game situation with him but I feel like it's up there."

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