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From the Podium | Coach Staley Talks Right Tackle Battle

FTP- 08.22

Below are three takeaways from podium sessions before the Chargers 17th training camp practice:

Staley says right tackle decision is 'getting close'

One of the more talked about position battles throughout Chargers camp has been that of the right tackle spot between Storm Norton and Trey Pipkins III.

After two preseason games and a joint practice with the Cowboys, Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said Monday that the Bolts are getting closer to a decision on who will start in Week 1 against the Raiders.

"I think we're getting close to being able to make a decision on that," Staley said. "It's been great for both guys to compete and come to practice everyday with a real healthy competition.

"There's a heathy respect for one another and I think there's the respect that they know we have for them, too," Staley added.

Having played nearly identical snaps through the first two preseason games and alternating in practice, both Norton and Pipkins have seen a healthy amount of playing time for the coaching staff to assess who will start at that spot.

With both players at 'similar junctures' of their careers, Staley is confident in whoever wins the starting job.

"With these two guys, we're going to be able to make an accurate decision," Staley said. "We're going to be able to know that that person earned it."

"What we want is for that person to be able to go there and play to his full potential, get with the other four guys he's going to be with and really establish that strong chemistry," Staley added.

Staley reiterated that whoever won the spot would be the starter and there would be not rotation.

"It's been a really good competition. No matter how it shakes out, it will be good for our football team," he said.

Mack with high praise for Slater

Khalil Mack has been settling in 'pretty well' with his new team.

The Bolts big offseason trade acquisition has not played in the preseason, but he still has seen plenty of battles with Pro Bowler Rashawn Slater on the left side. Mack had high praise of the young tackle entering his second year.

"Rashawn is a great young player," Mack said. "Just understanding the different intangibles and having the information that he has at a young age it's great to see, especially on the same team."

While the competition is healthy, both players being on the same team allows Mack to communicate with Slater and allow him to see hear valuable insight that he wouldn't otherwise hear from opponents.

"Obviously, if I wasn't on the same team with him, I wouldn't be giving him pointers or telling him different things that I'm trying to work on or what I'm doing, my thought process," he said. "But just the fact that we are doing those things is a great sign for him especially."

Earlier in training camp, Slater talked about seeing looks he hadn't seen before from Mack in practice. Mack considers himself a 'reactionary' player while rushing, which makes it harder for the tackle. Still, the veteran outside linebacker has been impressed with how Slater has responded to his attack.

"He responds well. This guy is a sharp, mature player already. It's great to see," Mack added.

Johnson learning quickly from NFL competition

Entering his first year in the NFL, guard Zion Johnson has gotten an early look at what the league is like.

Even in his limited action during preseason, the 17th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft noticed the differences from college to the pros.

"The process leading up to the game is a lot different than college," Johnson said. "Things are really fine-tuned; everything is for a purpose. Whereas I felt like in college, things were longer.

"I felt like our preparation for the game was very detailed and gave us the best chance of playing our best," Johnson added.

The week following his first NFL preseason action, Johnson got some more work during the joint practices against the Cowboys. After seeing his defensive line for the majority of camp, he used these practices as a learning experience, specifically for his technique.

"It felt pretty good to go against a new team, a team that their defensive line is quite different than ours in terms of how they play, what they stress in their defensive line," Johnson said. "It was a good experience, I felt like there was some good, there was some bad, but a lot to learn from.

"I would say more so what I learned was from a technical point of view. Little things that I need to fix that I get with my coach [offensive Line Coach Brendan Nugent]. We stress that every time we watch the film," Johnson added.

With Week 1 inching closer and closer, the rookie sees a lot of value in the extra work he's gotten from opposing defensive lines.

"It was very valuable because you just have to rely on your technique, on your base fundamentals, and at the end of the day, if we don't have a specific play, all you can rely on is what we do as a base," Johnson said. "So, it really helps you learn how you're doing with your fundamentals, with your technique and you learn some things that you need to fix."

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