Below are three takeaways from podium sessions on the 12th day of Chargers Training Camp:
Davis, Samuel Jr. perfecting craft against the Bolts' offense
The Bolts had their 12th practice of camp Wednesday morning, suiting up in full pads in front of fans for the fifth time at camp. With the first preseason game set for this Saturday at SoFi Stadium, the intensity seemed to pick up on Wednesday as the coaching staff prepares the team to face the Los Angeles Rams in three days.
During the past 12 practices, the offense and defense have battled it out on the field, with both units making splash plays during 11-on-11 periods. A pair of players that have been right in the mix of the competition are cornerbacks Michael Davis and Asante Samuel, Jr. The cornerbacks each talked Wednesdayabout how competing against players such as quarterback Justin Herbert, plus wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, help them take their game to the next level.
"You're going against the best," Davis said of the Bolts offensive unit. "I think our offense is one of the better offenses in the league, so it's best-on-best. We have our days, they have their days. I think that's the point of competition, just to keep grinding, keep making each other better."
The Bolts' offense tied for the second most net passing yards per game (282.4) in the NFL in 2021. Samuel, who said he's feeling more 'comfortable' and 'calm' on the practice field, gave high praise to Herbert and explained what guarding Herbert's top targets at practice allows him to do.
"I think it makes us better because we're going against one of the best quarterbacks in the league," Samuel said. "Three of the best receivers in the league. I just try to go out there and use my technique against those guys, see what I can do and what I can't do, just perfect my craft."
Ficken talks depth on special teams, preparing for Rams
While it may not be the flashiest phase of the game, special teams unit is often the best place for young talent to develop on a NFL roster. As the Chargers prepare to make the first roster cuts of training camp next week, a lot of eyes will be on the performance of the special teams unit on Saturday.
Chargers Special Teams Coordinator Ryan Ficken gave an update on that unit on Wednesday, adding why he's pleased with the work the special teams players have put in so far.
"That was a really good practice today," Ficken said. "These last couple of days, we've had some good ones. Coming out here, I think that these guys have been dialed in, working hard.
"Have to give a lot of credit to these core guys and the specialists," Ficken added. "They're putting in the work and preparing themselves ready to go for not only the Rams, but also leading up to the season."
Ficken explained how when it comes to evaluating players on special teams, he's not just using practices and preseason games, he's also using meetings and the 'small things' to evaluate everyone on the depth chart. Ficken explained the importance of depth on special teams as they prepare for a 17-game season.
"We're trying to create depth at all positions it doesn't matter where it is," Ficken said. "We have to make sure that they're ready to go against the Rams here in all of these situations, making sure that they're prepared so they can go out and execute and have the most success that they can have out there on the field, because that's what we want, we want them to have success out there, not only for themselves, but for our team as a whole."
Jackson's impact on the Bolts' secondary
With a league-best 25 interceptions since joining the NFL in 2018, J.C. Jackson has developed into a ballhawk at cornerback. With the Chargers secondary adding such an elite player this offseason, Samuel — a fellow Florida native — talked about what it has been like to add Jackson to the mix so far at camp.
"It's been good," Samuel said of adding Jackson and cornerback Bryce Callahan. "I've been asking those guys little things about technique and scheme, just trying to ask as many questions as I can, gain knowledge from them and become a better teammate and player with those guys."
Davis explained that Jackson, who was just ranked first on NFL.com’s top cornerbacks list entering this season, adds energy and 'wildness' to the secondary. Davis also spoke on the competition that Jackson's presence brings on defense.
"I think competition brings camaraderie," Davis said. "When you compete, you make everybody around you better. We're all still friends, so that's just part of the game, I think. I think that it just elevates us all the way around."
Davis also said he has a better 'grasp' on the defensive scheme and talked about how the secondary is focused on improving as a unit in 2022.
"We've locked in," Davis said. "We've bought into what [Head] Coach [Brandon] Staley has been talking about. We've bought into D.A. [Secondary Coach Derrick Ansley] and [Defensive Coordinator] Renaldo Hill. We're coming together as a unit. I think that's the main thing. You play as one and you win as one."
Bolt Up for 2022!
Secure your 2022 Season Ticket Memberships today! Click here to learn more.