Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, quarterback Justin Herbert and safety Derwin James, Jr.'s media availability on Wednesday:
Chargers wrap up Day 1
The Bolts are back on the field.
The Chargers officially kicked off training camp Wednesday at Jack Hammett Sports Complex in a light practice as they begin to ease into things.
It's the beginning stages toward a new season, and Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley's message to the team emphasized just how important this period of camp is to getting better down the road.
"Every year is a different year," Staley said. "My message with this group was that we have a really good football team, and what we have to make sure is that we take the field right every single day with that mindset, to compete at a Super Bowl standard.
"You start in training camp, and you build it all the way until your last game," Staley added. "I love coaching this group of guys. Training camp is where the hard work is done, so that's what we're focused on."
Safety Derwin James, Jr., echoed the sentiment, adding his message to the team and how it can translate as the days continue.
"Our way. Just doing things our way and don't let our opponent dictate the way we play," James said. "Start fast, come out here and work every day."
Day 1's practice was without pads and mainly focused on special teams.
However, it did feature some 7-on-7 drills as well and saw some highlight-level plays from some on the offensive side of the football.
There are playmakers all throughout the offense and although the first practice was just a small glimpse of the team, quarterback Justin Herbert noted one of the things he's looking forward to this season was just that — the offensive weapons on the Bolts.
"I think it's working with our receivers," Herbert said. "Keenan [Allen], Mike [Williams], Q [Quentin Johnston], Josh Palmer, Gerald [Everett], Donald Parham [Jr.]. All of those guys have done such a fantastic job.
"I'm just excited to air the ball up and throw them the ball," Herbert added.
Each year of training camp practices is different, but the main goal remains the same.
And this year's training camp for the Chargers gives them another opportunity to play at a high level, and in the process, improve.
"We're gearing it so that these guys can come out every practice and compete," Staley said. "That's what we've really tried to do, is that these guys don't have to pace themselves. That was my big message to the group; when we come out onto this practice field, it's designed for you guys to compete at a high level. That's what we're going to try and get done.
Staley added: "We're going to try and put a good show on for these fans every single time we come out because training camp is about these fans, and we want to make sure that we put on a show every time that we come out."
Familiarity and confidence
The Chargers are in a different spot compared to this time a year ago.
The main story of last season's training camp was the onboarding of many fresh faces, especially on defense, and growing the continuity. This season however, it's quite the opposite.
A majority of the roster returns from a season ago, something that Staley talked about and benefits the Bolts in a big way.
Knowing who's around you on and off the field can bring out the best.
"Every year is a new year in the NFL and there is natural transition, but when you can have less of it, I think that we would all take that," Staley said. "I think that really creates the energy that you're looking for, when you know each other.
"You guys have heard me talk about relationships and competition, I just think that the energy every day in the pros is different when you are familiar and you're confident in who you are and what you're doing and how you're doing it. I'm excited to bring this team back," Staley added. "I think that this team is really, really good. Now, we have to put in the work."
The energy coming into camp is high and with the built in familiarity already in place, confidence continues to grow.
"I'd say just the energy and everybody knowing what we're here to do," James said. "Everybody has already been — 95 percent of this team is back, so we're all kind of familiar with each other. So, I'd say more familiarity with everybody and just the confidence."
Herbert added: "Keenan and Mike have such a great understanding for the game, that we might be calling something else, but we can go back to the previous year's offense and say, 'It's similar to this or similar to that.' They're able to pick it up really quickly. Kind of the verbiage changes, but those guys, it's all ball and they understand it pretty well."
But it's not like those who weren't around last year don't feel it either though.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks, who was one of the big free agent additions this past offseason, has fit right in with the team and previously mentioned the culture around the building throughout the offseason.
Not only does the continuity have great benefits for the team, it also creates an environment where players from the outside can come and fit right in from the jump.
"A communicator that's been in the league, that's seen every formation, every quarterback, every tendency," James said about Kendricks. "He's got a lot of energy — I love his energy.
"He's always smiling, no negativity," James added. "Even if he makes a mistake, he's never negative. So having a good, positive player out there, I feel like is going to help the whole defense."
James enters Year 6 with Bolts
It's safe to say that even entering his sixth year, the first day of training camp never gets old for Derwin James.
"Amazing," James said about the first day with a smile. "Year 6 for me coming in, it felt good today."
"Hard to believe, for sure," James later added.
The All-Pro safety led the Chargers defense once again, making his voice heard and communicating with his teammates throughout the first day.
And even with all the success James has seen throughout his career in the NFL so far, he remains striving to get better in all facets.
"Being more of a leader and getting better myself," James said. "Not being settled and elevating my game to another level."
"Everything. All-around, just everything," James later added.
James has faced off against Herbert and the offense countless times in practice, but this training camp brings something a little extra to the table with Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore calling the plays.
It will be a battle for James and the defense these next couple of weeks, but he spoke glowingly about the challenge ahead and facing an offense with a number of weapons.
"I'm just excited, like I said a lot of guys over there are confident," James said about the offense. "Justin Herbert is getting the ball. If you see our receivers, they're tall. We've got a lot of speed over there, and our line is good too.
"Just having all those weapons, just getting the ball into the play-makers hands, and with Kellen Moore calling plays," James added. "I feel like we're going to do a great job."
Secure your 2023 Season Ticket Memberships today! Click here to learn more.