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3 Observations: Murray, Gilman Lead Strong Defensive Effort


The Chargers had a lighter practice Saturday by going for less than two hours in only shells.

The Bolts will ramp things up Sunday with their annual night scrimmage before an off day Monday.

Here are three observations from today's practice:

1. Murray, Gilman get key takeaways

A day after the Chargers offense won the day in a 2-minute drill, the Chargers defense responded in a big way Saturday.

And it was Kenneth Murray, Jr., and Alohi Gilman who led the way.

The Bolts offense faced an end-of-half scenario in the final team drill, with the unit down 17-10 with 103 seconds left in the second quarter. The offense had the ball on their own 31-yard line.

But Murray thwarted the sequence in a hurry by notching an interception on the second play of the drive.

He had some help from Asante Samuel, Jr., who popped the ball free from Joshua Palmer before Murray corralled it out of midair before racing the other way.

The splash play continued a strong camp for the fourth-year linebacker.

"He has had a really quality camp. I think that you're seeing the experience show," Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said Friday. "His running mate, I think they're a very good tandem. They communicate well together. They play off one another. Kenneth as really good command of our defense and has helped Eric [Kendricks] in many ways.

"You've seen more play-making, you've seen the physicality," Staley added. "You've seen the speed that, I think, you guys have seen, at times, but now you're seeing it with a lot more consistency. He's having a very quality camp for us."

Given how quickly their drive ended, the offense was given another chance in the same situation.

But the defense once again came up clutch as Gilman tallied a takeaway with an interception.

The fourth-year safety hovered in the middle of the field before racing in and making a diving catch to end the session.

The strong defensive effort once again highlighted the constant back and forth between the Bolts offense and defense through eight camp practices.

Easton Stick and his unit then took the field as the quarterback led the group on a scoring drive.

The series was highlighted by a 50-yard connection with rookie Quentin Johnston that put the offense in the red zone.

Stick then capped off the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to John Hightower as the wide receiver continued to flash in camp.

2. Allen shines on 3rd downs

Surprise, surprise ... Keenan Allen was money on third downs Saturday.

The Chargers spent a portion of practice working on third downs in a 7-on-7 drill, and it was the veteran wide receiver who teamed with Justin Herbert to constantly move the sticks.

The duo was on point from the very first play when Allen caught a pass over the middle on third-and-3.

He later converted a third-and-10 situation with ease as he gained 15 yards over the middle. Allen then move the chains on third-and-3 as he and Herbert completed their third successful pass in a four-play sequence.

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3. Strong special teams work

The Chargers didn't kick any field goals Saturday, instead choosing to focus on other areas of special teams.

That work included punt coverage, where a pair of players worked to evade blocks and get down the field while using the correct angle and technique to contain the returner.

Chargers Special Teams Coordinator Ryan Ficken watched with a close eye and offered teaching points to players after each rep.

Derius Davis, Pokey Wilson, Hightower and Larry Rountree were among the returners in this drill.

Davis, Wilson and Hightower were later the returners when the Chargers worked on kickoff coverage.

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