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Pair of Chargers Rookies Prepare for NFL Debut in Hometown

FTP Day 11 Updated

Below are three takeaways from Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore, outside linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu and linebacker Daiyan Henley's media availability on Wednesday:

Hometown Debuts

A pair of Chargers draft picks will be suiting up in the powder blues for the first time where it all started.

Second-round pick Tuli Tuipulotu and third-round pick Daiyan Henley have been full go during their first training camp, as the pair of rookies have gotten their first look of life in the NFL. Saturday's preseason opener will be another big step in the process.

And it will also be a special moment for the two rookies.

Both Tuipulotu and Henley grew up and played in the area, and their first NFL action will come just a few miles from where it all began.

Tuipulotu, who grew up in Hawthorne, played football at Lawndale High School and USC, mentioned how he is treating his debut as another game, but also talked what being close to home has been like for him.

"I'll just treat it like another game, just enjoy and have fun with my teammates," Tuipulotu said. "We're all playing for each other in these preseason games. We're all trying to prove to each other that we belong on the team. We just have to do our job and have fun."

"It's a blessing to be out here because when I need a break, I've got my family down the street," Tuipulotu later added. "Just drive down there, 20 minutes away and have some balance between football and the stuff outside of football."

Henley echoed the sentiment, adding his level of excitement to finally get a chance to play at SoFi Stadium.

"To have my first game be there, in general — I was there with the [Washington State] Cougs not too long ago for a bowl game, but I didn't play," Henley said. "To be there and be able to play my first game at SoFi, I mean, like I said, 1,000. Excitement is out the roof for me."

And it will be a family affair for both, as they expect to welcome a lot of family.

"The family is going to be deep. My paycheck is going to be a little low there but, hopefully, I'll have my whole family there," Tuipulotu said with a laugh.

Henley added: "I mean, SoFi, this is home. To be there down the street from my house, you could imagine how many family members I'm going to have there. There's going to be a lot."

Tuipulotu and Henley have had their moments, but have made sure to make their presence felt.

On the edges, Tuipulotu has been a force and had a strong practice Wednesday, contributing on pass and run downs. Henley has been active around the football so far as well, knocking down balls over the middle.

Their first NFL training camps has been competitive, but at the same time, something they're enjoying every moment of.

"It's been fun trying to feel everyone's energy," Tuipulotu said. "They're trying to get to know me and I'm trying to get to know them and build that chemistry within the team. I'm just trying to enjoy and have fun."

Henley added: "It's pretty good. I'm having fun. I'm enjoying it. I mean, it's football. This is my day job, now. To be able to come up here and do what I love every day, I've been enjoying it. These days are long because it's camp, but I enjoy every moment of it."

Moore 'excited' to watch offense Saturday

Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore will have his first crack at calling plays in a game situation with the Bolts during Saturday's preseason opener.

The first-year Bolts play caller has had his offense going toe-to-toe with the defense but will get a chance to go up against a different team for the first time.

Moore is looking forward to the opportunity to get going in a game situation, as he outlined what he's looking for out of his offense Saturday night.

"No. 1 is operation, just a clean operation and that our guys are on the same page, communicating really well," Moore said. "Certainly, as preseason games progress, a lot of the younger guys will get a lot of opportunities.

"We're really excited about those guys, just getting a chance to go play free, play football, trust yourself — you're here for a reason — and go for it," Moore added.

The offense has gone through a number of situational drills through 11 practices, with the team continuing to fine tune the offense.

Practices went up another level with the pads coming on last week, but Saturday will be the first time some positions will be able to showcase their full ability in a game.

And one of those positions is running back, as padded practices don't involve tackling to the ground.

Saturday will be different, and Moore noted his excitement to watch the running back group for the first time in a fully live game scenario.

"Preseason games are so phenomenal for running backs, just because it's finally their chance to really show, ultimately, what they are able to do," Moore said. "We have such a great group here that is going to have these awesome opportunities to hop in there, get some rushing attempts, make the plays out in space, make great decisions out in space.

"I'm really excited for those guys," Moore added.

Check out the best photos from the tenth day of Training Camp 2023 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa!

Henley relying on veteran LBs

Whether it's been in coverage or in run plays, Henley has made an impact on drills whenever he's on the field.

The first NFL training camp for Henley has been exactly how it should be according to the linebacker.

"Everything is how it's supposed to be," Henley said. "For me, being the rookie, being able to have the vets that I have in the room. I'm dealing with minor mistakes every now and then, but then major plays every now and then.

"I think the flow is coming perfect because I've talked to my coaches and my coaches are telling me that I'm doing great," Henley added. "With that being said, I've been having a good camp. That's credit to my coaches and credit to my captains, my leaders."

It's a work in progress, like it is for all rookies.

But just like it's been for his fellow rookies who have joined a veteran room, Henley has had an opportunity to learn from some of the best in former All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks.

Henley spoke about his experiences with Kendricks, praising the impact he's had on him thus far.

"To be able to be with a guy like Eric Kendricks and be able to pick his brain, talk about football — there's a lot to pick up from a guy like that because he's seen so much and he's been so involved in the game and at a high level," Henley said. "Whenever I get a chance to talk about what he's seeing on a play, it's always in-depth because he's trying to give me his best answer.

"Having that talk with him has definitely been impacting me as a player on the field," Henley later added.

And it's not only Kendricks, as the rest of the linebacker core has been instrumental in the rookie linebacker learning from his first year mistakes — and not doing them again.

"I've been able to talk to EK," Henley said. "I've been able to talk to [Kenneth Murray]. Dudes like Amen [Ogbongbemiga], Nick Niemann. I have guys that surround me that help me realize that you have to learn through the mess ups.

"Then, when you make those plays and you figure it out, it's that much better because you won't make that same mistake again," Henley added. "That's all I'm focused on, is not making the same mistake twice."

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