Below are three takeaways from podium sessions after the Chargers 16th training camp practice:
Hebert's showcasing confidence, 'pinpoint accuracy'
One member of the Chargers that can arguably benefit the most from two joint practices with the Cowboys is quarterback Justin Herbert, who won't suit up in the preseason. Facing a strong Cowboys defense with live reps for two days gives Herbert the necessary reps to ready his game for the start of the regular season.
After practice Thursday, Herbert spoke of taking 'full advantage' of the practice reps and what the joint practices mean to the development of the Bolts offense.
"It means everything to us," Herbert. "To have these live reps of treating them like a game-like situation, that's where we get our reps. That's where we get our practice in.
"Since we're not playing in the preseason, we need to take advantage of these reps, and we did. We felt like we really got after the past couple of days," Herbert added. "To go up against a team like that, I think it's a great learning lesson for us, as well, to see a team that flies around like that and a front seven like they have. I thought it was a great opportunity for us."
With the Bolts season opener a little over three weeks away, Herbert talked about his level of excitement about the team as they head into their final week of training camp.
"I'm really excited for this team. I think we are miles ahead of where we were at this point last year," Herbert said. "Having been in the same offense, same defense, we've added a couple of guys on defense that are going to make a huge impact. It's been really fun to go up against those guys because they made us a lot better.
"The whole thing that [Head] Coach [Brandon] Staley has been preaching is competition, and we've certainly had our fair share of competition," Herbert added. "[CB] J.C. Jackson, [OLB] Kyle Van Noy, [OLB] Khalil Mack, those guys stepped in and they have made a huge impact. It's been really fun to play against those guys."
As Staley and Herbert head into their second season working together, the Bolts head coach explained what areas of Herbert's game he's seen improve since they first teamed up last year at training camp.
"Just confidence in his fundamentals," Staley said. "I think when you see him, regardless of the situation, regardless of the play call, I think that he's really confident in his fundamentals, of his feet and his eyes working together. I think what you're seeing is just that pinpoint accuracy that he has.
"I know, defensively, going against it, there's just not a lot of margin for error, and because there's not a lot of margin for error because his timing and rhythm is really good," Staley added. "He's still working hard at it. There's still a bunch to improve on. I think his fundamentals, as a quarterback, are improving."
Check out the best photos from the Bolts hosting the Dallas Cowboys on the fifteenth day of Training Camp 2022 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa!
Staley breaks downs joint practices with the Cowboys
Thursday's practice was not only the second and final joint practice, but also the last practice of camp at Jack Hammett Sports Complex. The Bolts will practice at Hoag Performance Center next week before the preseason finale.
Thursday's practice had a similar format to Wednesday's practice, minus most 1-on-1 portions, with five total 11-on-11 periods. The 11-on-11 periods focused on third downs, unscripted plays, two red-zone portions and finished off with a 2-minute drill.
With a lot of film to breakdown after Wednesday's practice, Staley talked about what he saw from the Bolts offense after studying the film yesterday.
"I thought our receivers really played at a high level yesterday," Staley said. "I thought that [WRs] Keenan [Allen], Mike [Williams] and Josh [Palmer], the separation was impressive, Justin was very accurate.
"But it was really good for us to see a different style of play," Staley added. "And then the quality of their players; [Cowboys LB] Micah Parsons, [Cowboys DE] DeMarcus Lawrence, [Cowboys CB] Trevon Diggs, that's a really good group of guys that you're going to be playing against."
Staley called the joint practices 'incredible for both teams' and felt the Bolts improved over the two days of work. Staley, who calls the plays on defense, was over on the Bolts sideline calling the plays on both days. With a front row view of the Bolts defense, Staley explained why he felt the defense played 'together' overall against the Cowboys starting offense.
"I feel like we were able to stand up to a good running attack and two premier backs in the league," Staley said. "I liked the way we played together. I thought we played with a lot of energy. I thought that we kept the ball out of the deep part of the field. I thought that we got some negative plays.
"There's a lot to clean up. Yesterday, much like our offense, you're facing some new things, and you're not executing at a perfect level, but you're learning a lot of good lessons. I thought that our defense definitely moved forward this week, for sure," Staley added.
Allen sees Palmer as more 'polished' wide receiver
Veteran wide receiver Keenan Allen understands the importance of joint practices as well. Allen had a nice showing during one of the red-zone portions of the 11-on-11 periods, catching a touchdown pass from Herbert in the back of the endzone.
Allen was able to sneak past third-year cornerback Trevon Diggs to secure the touchdown grab.
Last week, fellow wide receiver Josh Palmer talked about how he's learned from Allen by watching the veteran's film to help him improve his game. After practice, Allen said he's noticed the improvement from the second-year wide out and explained why Palmer has made the jump heading into Year 2.
"A lot more polished," Allen said of Palmer's game. "I think his timing is getting better, his patience, and understanding of the progressions in the read.
"When he's not the first read, he can take a lot of time doing technique stuff. You can sell them a little bit more," Allen added. "Like last year, he would be coming out of the route so fast that he'd be right underneath the first progression route. Like, you have way more time than that. So, now he's starting to understand it."
Allen has also taken notice of Herbert's improvement as well, giving him high praise for taking sometimes more than an hour after practice to work on his throws.
"Just understanding the offense better, feeling more comfortable, understanding what is going on, understanding what we're trying to get to," Allen said of Herbert. "He's changing up the cadences a little bit, so that's one way to see that he's being more comfortable.
"Just taking advantage of everything," Allen added. "You see him. He stays like an hour-and-a-half after practice just throwing balls. It's crazy."
The Bolts will face the Cowboys for their second preseason game Saturday at 7 p.m. (PT) from SoFi Stadium.
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