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Chargers Training Camp Preview: Special Teams 

The Los Angeles Chargers hold Mandatory Mini-Camp on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 at Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa, CA.
The Los Angeles Chargers hold Mandatory Mini-Camp on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 at Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa, CA.

Chargers Training Camp is on the horizon, as the Bolts will soon return to work to get ready for the 2022 season. The Chargers will host 10 open practices as they welcome fans back to Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa.

What's in store for the Bolts in camp? Expectations are high, as second-year Head Coach Brandon Staley leads a roster focused on physicality that added numerous new faces this offseason. will take a glance at each position group leading up to training camp, concluding with special teams. 

Who's on the roster?

Dustin Hopkins (8th year in NFL; 2nd year with Chargers), JK Scott (5; 1), Josh Harris (11; 1), James McCourt (1; 1), DeAndre Carter (5; 1).

Camp outlook

There are plenty of new faces surrounding this unit, beginning at the top.

Ryan Ficken was brought in as the special teams coordinator after he was in that role last season for Minnesota, where he oversaw marked improvement for the Vikings. Ficken spent 15 total seasons in Minnesota. Chris Gould, the assistant special teams coach, is also new.

The Chargers brought back Hopkins, who spent the majority of the 2021 season with the team. He made 18 of his 20 field goal tries in 11 games with the Bolts, including all 17 kicks under 50 yards. An eight-year veteran, Hopkins has a career field goal percentage of 84.6. 

Hopkins will have some competition for his job, as the Chargers added McCourt as an undrafted free agent this spring. The former Illinois standout made the most 50-plus yard field goals in program history with eight.

Scott is in his first season with the Bolts after spending time with the Packers (2018-2020) and played in just one game for the Jaguars in 2021. Scott has averaged 44.5 yards per punt in his career.

The Chargers also have a new long snapper, as Harris was signed this offseason. He spent the first 10 years of his career with the Falcons and was a first-time Pro Bowler in 2021 while also being named as a Second Team All-Pro by The Associated Press.

Carter is yet another new face, as he could be in line to handle both return jobs for the Bolts. He has averaged 23.3 yards per kickoff return in his career — with one touchdown — and also has experience returning punts, too. 

Quick quote

"Speed, real speed. He's 4.3 [40-yard-dash speed] and he's big. That's a big part of the gunner job, getting guys who can really run. We really challenged him because to be a good receiver, you have to beat press [coverage]. That's just a natural part of your job. Trying to create as much value for him as possible. I think Ryan Ficken and Chris Gould have both done a really good job with him."

— Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley on Jalen Guyton's potential impact as a gunner on special teams.

One big question… How do the fresh faces fare in 2022?

The Chargers believe they have their kicker in Dustin Hopkins, who returns after taking over for the final 11 games last season. After that, all the specialists are new. They signed a 10-year veteran long snapper, Josh Harris, who made the Pro Bowl in 2021. At kick returner, they added DeAndre Carter, another veteran who also scored three touchdowns as a receiver last season for Washington. The Chargers replaced the inconsistent Ty Long with JK Scott at punter. Scott is a bit more of an uncertainty seeing how he appeared in only one game last year, with Jacksonville, after spending three seasons with Green Bay. The Chargers also have a new special teams coordinator (Ryan Ficken) and assistant (Chris Gould), so the commitment to improvement - or at least change - couldn't be more obvious. But the biggest step forward might come in the form of experience for players like Nick Niemann, Chris Rumph II and Amen Ogbongbemiga, three special-teams regulars who learned largely on the job in 2021. — (By Jeff Miller of the LA Times).

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