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3 Observations: Red-Zone Defense, Dicker Star in Wednesday's Practice

3O 8.2

The Bolts put in another solid day of work Wednesday, practicing for two hours in shells in Costa Mesa.

The Chargers will enjoy an off day Thursday before practice is again open to fans Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Here are three observations from today's practice:

1. Samuel leads red-zone defense

Back and forth the Bolts go at training camp.

While Tuesday was a win for the offense, the defense responded Wednesday with a strong showing of their own, especially in the red zone.

It's all exactly what Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley wants to see.

"It's been a healthy back and forth," Staley said. "Yesterday, the offense had a really good day but today I thought the defense responded.

"We went through a lot of good situations today ... and there were just a lot of good things out there on the football field," Staley added. "That's been a bright spot for us ... that both sides have competed well. Who wins the day has been kind of back and forth, but you're seeing the playmaking and execution."

The Chargers spent multiple periods inside the 20-yard line Wednesday, including a live session where the offense started with the ball at the 20-yard line.

But that sequence was short-lived as the defense stopped a short run before forced incompletions aimed for Keenan Allen and Joshua Palmer to set up a likely field goal.

The Chargers later went through a 2-minute drill where the offense, down 24-20 with 97 seconds left, started at their own 39-yard line.

Justin Herbert hit Joshua Palmer for a 20-plus yard gain before the offense moved the chains with passes to Palmer and Allen.

But the defense — led by Asante Samuel, Jr. — bowed up in the red zone to deny a touchdown.

Samuel swatted away a pass intended for Quentin Johnston before a run play moved the ball inside the 5-yard line. Samuel kept up his stellar play to force an incompletion on a pass for Johnston before he recorded one final pass breakup to seal the win for the defense.

Chargers defensive players raced off the sideline to celebrate with Samuel while the offensive players did pushups for coming up just short.

"I'm just trying to get better and make plays for this team," Samuel said after practice.

2. Dicker perfect on the day

Cameron Dicker's strong training camp continues.

The kicker hit all eight of his field goal tries Wednesday, with his longest make coming from 52 yards out.

Dicker began at that distance and nailed the lengthy kick before gradually moving in. He was then true from 48, 45, 42, 40, 36, 33 and 29 yards to cap off his perfect day.

Dicker is engaged in a camp battle with Dustin Hopkins, who did not kick Wednesday.

Dicker has now made 22 of 24 field goals in live team periods so far in camp.

3. A fun Herbert-James battle

Sometimes it's fun to sit back and watch the chess match between Herbert and Derwin James, Jr.

The elite players were involved in more fun and games Wednesday during a 7-on-7 session in the red zone.

Herbert began the drill by firing an absolute dime to Gerald Everett for a 25-yard score with James in tight coverage.

But when Herbert hit Johnston on a short pass on the next play, James was right there to keep it to a 3-yard gain. James later forced an incompletion on a pass intended for Donald Parham, Jr., in the end zone.

Herbert ended the final two plays of the drill targeting J.C. Jackson, who allowed a catch on the first rep but denied Everett a touchdown on the second play.

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