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Chargers HC Brandon Staley: Camp Competition, Offense's Chemistry & Learning From The Past


Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley joined the latest edition of Chargers Weekly live from training camp at Jack Hammett Sports Complex.

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Highlights of the conversation with Staley are below:

On rookie G Zion Johnson getting compared to 2021 rookie Rashawn Slater:

"I think our initial impression was 'Hey, let's be careful about comparing one or the other.' I think as a coach, you're guarded about comparisons. And then, your players end up doing it for you. I think for Zion to have earned the respect of Corey [Linsley] and Matt [Feiler] says so much about him. He's come out and really competed well."

"…He has a good head on his shoulders and physically, he's shown he belongs. But it's that mental side of the game as a lineman that you have to prove. I think he's shown that he's got the mindset to be a top player."

"…He's still at the beginning though, and I think as his coach, there's so much for him to experience, there's so much for him to improve on, but to make that type of impression this early on in pads shows you where he can go."

On how he feels a week into training camp and the competition so far:

"We're excited about the foundation. I think your first seven practices is where you really implement the scheme and the situations and the techniques that are going to set the course for your season. I think we've had seven competitive practices."

"…I like the competition. I think it's complete competition in all three phases, and that's what i'm looking for. I'm looking for improvement within the football team and our guys got better today. I'm excited to see us finish this next block with a scrimmage on Sunday night in front of our fans."

"…I think what's different with this camp [compared] to the last camp is that the competition on both sides of the ball, and in the kicking game, is at a high level. I think that's what you're after in being a complete football team. There's a lot of good individual battles, you know 1-on-1s. Then there's good unit battles and then on special teams, those guys are really competing hard for spots and that's what I've been excited about."

On how they practice special teams and what they try to get right before games:

"I think a lot of it is getting the guys in the right positions. You're trying to take this preseason to evaluate a bunch of these guys, trying to get them in a bunch of different spots to see where they really fit and you don't really know that until you're in the games when you have to finish a play. It can look good in individual, it can look good in a group setting, during practice but until you go against another opponent and have to finish a play and make a play, you don't really know."

"…You're worried about guys getting hurt and stuff like that but you're trying to get them fundamentally sound and you're trying to get the scheme foundation laid so that they know what they're going to have to face from a scheme perspective. I think that's the part as a head coach last year going through the preseason, there's big value in figuring out who can play special teams and I don't think it'll be any different this year for us."

On what the offense could be and how Justin Herbert factors in:

"Those guys have got to come together and that happens when you bring together the right quality guys and you have a quality coaching staff that knows how to bring them together. This year, they have that brotherhood, that unspoken standard at practice and what they achieved last year they know where we're capable of going and what we expect it to look like every day. Those guys have developed a cool chemistry and that's something that you can't force."

"…You just see [Herbert] spending all the extra time after practice. That's when you make the magic happen. Him hitting Donald Parham [Jr.] on that back shoulder throw against Bryce [Callahan] in perfect coverage, that's happening 20-25 minutes after practice every day. We're at the beginning with this group but certainly you feel confident about where we can go with this group."

On how he's used different eras and players throughout his coaching career:

"I think that's what's cool about football. You can learn a lot from different eras, you can learn a lot about players. I know with Keenan [Allen], a guy who's seen a lot, lived through a lot, you may be able to look at a certain era of football with maybe a receiver that you feel like was similar, or an offense that utilized a player like him and 'Have you thought about that? Can we do that with you? Does that make sense with you?' I think now in the modern NFL, it's always been that way when you look at good coaches and good players, you have to partner up with players to take them where they can go."

"…I say all of that because I'm very passionate about getting it right for them and the only way you make it right for a player is you have to see it. You can't just say it, you have to show them how it's going to work or else they're not going to believe you."

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