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Three Takeaways: Revamped Bolts Defense 'Coming Together' After 8 Camp Practices 


Below are three takeaways from podium sessions on the eighth day of Chargers Training Camp:

New defensive additions continue to make an impact

After having the day off on Thursday, the Chargers returned to the practice field Friday for the team's eighth day of training camp. Friday's practice was also opened back up to the public after two practices without fans, adding to the energy and excitement on the field.

The Bolts' defense has made their fair share of plays eight practices in, with pass breakups, tight coverages and interceptions made all over the field. After practice, Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill gave his assessment on how the Bolts defense has performed so far at camp as the new defensive additions get acclimated as a unit.

"I'm still liking what I'm seeing," Hill said. "We had some padded practices, so we can see those guys, their physical abilities, and some toughness. That's on display. We get a couple more days coming up here, these next few days to put the pads back on, but I'm really liking how the back end is communicating, how we're getting off the ball up front.

"I like how they're playing nice and square up there. The 'backers are flowing and playing off of those guys," Hill added. "I'm really liking how we're coming along. We just have to keep getting out here on this practice field and keep coming together as a team."

Despite all the new faces on defense added in free agency and in the draft, , the Chargers new defensive weapons are quickly building chemistry at camp. Hill talked about how one of the new additions — cornerback J.C. Jackson — has made an early impact. Hill talked the playmaking ability No. 27 brings to the defense at any given moment.

"He's been solid," Hill said. "He's been like we anticipated from his playing days in New England. He's come out here and just been a lock-down performer.

"We've been kind of easing him in, in the process, making sure that he's healthy and ready to go," Hill added. "He's done everything we've asked. Every time he steps on the grass, he's either close to making a play or he's making a play."

Friday's practice was another build up to Sunday, as the Chargers will host an intrasquad scrimmage in front of fans at Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Hill talked about what he's looking forward to when it comes to Sunday's competition.

"It's chance for us to continue to come together as a team," Hill said. "There are a lot of new pieces, so get a chance for those guys to play together and communicate with each other and see what it looks like post-scrimmage. I'm looking forward to that opportunity."

A takeaway for 'Mr. INT'

One of the best plays from Friday's practice came from none other than 'Mr. INT' himself. As quarterback Easton Stick threw a pass towards the middle of the field intended for wide receiver Trevon Bradford, Jackson tipped the ball to himself and secured the acrobatic interception. Jackson started running with the rest of the defense in celebration of the play, exciting his fellow defensive teammates and Bolts fans in attendance.

After practice, Jackson called the play 'team defense' and talked about the importance of coming together as a team to build a top defensive unit in the NFL. Jackson described how he's been able to get acclimated to the Bolts defensive scheme up to this point.

"I'm getting the hang of it," Jackson said. "Switching to a new team, you always have to adjust. You have to learn, it's a process. I'm coming out here each and every day, getting to know my teammates and coaches and having fun competing."

A big part of the defensive scheme will be how Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley implements the pass-rushing duo of outside linebackers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. When asked about Mack and Bosa, Jackson smiled from ear-to-ear and talked about what the duo will allow him to do on gamedays.

"I've never played with a pass rush like that," Jackson said. "We're going to see what that's like this year. I'm so excited to have those two guys. I'm very excited.

"I believe I can make more turnovers having those two guys going at the quarterback," Jackson added. "That should be fun. That's going to be fun."

Callahan: 'A blessing' to team up with Jackson, Allen

Chargers cornerback Bryce Callahan is another player the Chargers added this offseason that has made an impact alongside his new teammates. The veteran corner has had several pass break ups during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills of camp, and also also brings his knowledge of the defensive scheme installed by Staley. Callahan, who spent time working with Staley as a member of the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos, is one of several players added this offseason who have experience playing in Staley's scheme. Callahan detailed how beneficial it has been to join up with players who have experience in that system.

"I feel like it's real important. They can hit the ground running," Callahan said. "They don't have to learn a whole new system. We're all kind of familiar with what's going on. So, I feel like it's a big advantage."

Callahan has primarily lined up in the slot during training camp. Hill commented on Callahan's versatility as a corner and how it has been working together.

"That's home for Bryce," Hill said of Callahan playing at slot corner. "He's done it since he came into the National Football League. He also has a great ability to play outside, but we know his strong suit is playing inside.

"He's calm in there. He's seen a lot. He has the quickness and speed to guard pretty much anybody that goes in that slot," Hill added.

Callahan called it a "blessing" when asked about teaming up with Jackson, and also gave high praise to wide receiver Keenan Allen. Callahan described Allen's shiftiness, catch-radius and how the veteran receiver has "some voodoo on his routes." For Callahan, he couldn't ask for a better opponent to sharpen his tools on at practice than Allen.

"It's a blessing," Callahan said on competing against Allen. "I don't think I will get better work from a slot receiver, so just being able to go up against him every day is a blessing. Probably the best work there is, so I can't complain."

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