Seventh-round selection Cortez Broughton hasn’t been shy about getting to know his veteran teammates in the defensive line room.
Before he even touched down in Southern California, the defensive tackle connected with Chargers captain Brandon Mebane through a member of the Cincinnati football staff. On Monday – the first day the rookies mixed in with the vets at the Hoag Performance Center – Mebane assigned Broughton homework.
“He saw my notes and how I structured it and he was like, ‘OK, this is good. Why don’t you go back and do this?’"
Mebane gave Broughton an overnight deadline to reorganize his notes. The next day, Broughton said he came into the facility with an updated, easier-to-comprehend version.
“[He’s] 100 percent like a second coach,” Broughton said of Mebane. “This is his 13th year and I’m going to take everything I can from him.”
In a short period of time, the Chargers’ elder statesmen have been deliberate in not only helping the rookies with their transition to the NFL, but also preaching accountability.
“Did you get your 10?”
“I was walking back [and Davis] was like, ‘Did you get your 10? … You dropped the ball.’”
Davis is the only defensive player remaining from the 2005 NFL Draft. His longevity in the league can be attributed to a variety of factors, not least of which are his practice habits.
“It kind of slipped my mind, but he held me accountable to that – just dropping the ball,” Egbule said. “So, when it comes to mental errors or anything, I know that they’ll be there to be on me. And once I get the hang of everything, I can be on them, too.”
Egbule was eight years old when Davis entered the NFL. The rookie marveled at his new teammate’s ability to play such a punishing position for as long as he has.
In addition to having an invaluable resource like Davis, there’s second-year linebackers Uchenna Nwosu and Kyzir White. Both were in Egbule’s shoes a year ago.
Nwosu and Egbule have a common former teammate in D’Juan Hines, who played linebacker at Houston and spent time on the Chargers’ roster in 2018. It’s the small connections made this week that eventually blossom into a deeper bond.
“Whenever we meet – just having more time – I feel like it’s going to be real beneficial to talk to them and learn more,” Egbule said.
Browse through the top photos from offseason workouts as Chargers' rookies take the field with the vets.
Accountability cuts both ways
The second-round pick is set to join the JackBoyz, a close-knit, vocal group of defensive backs with a sky-high standard of performance.
“I think we are definitely going to hold him accountable,” said King of Adderley. “He needs to hold himself accountable, go out there and work."
King acknowledged Adderley is already hungry and wants to contribute in any way possible. As he sees how the secondary approaches their work, he'll follow suit.
During last week’s rookie minicamp, Adderley said his focus is on “mastering the playbook.” That process gets accelerated in a DBs room chock-full of All-Pros like King, cornerback Casey Hayward, and safeties Derwin James and Adrian Phillips.
“What better group to learn from?” said Adderley. “Just all across the board. I’m excited to pick their brains and find out what they do on and off the field so I can improve my brain.”
Taking initiative is half the battle. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey said third-round selection Trey Pipkins has already started to text him about plays. Broughton has gone out of his way to pull knowledge from veterans like Mebane and defensive tackle Damion Square. Both have been open books, and it’s a two-way street.
“Our room is a wide open room,” Square said. “Every guy has a voice in our room. We give everybody an opportunity to speak and learn, and I think through that, it helps us grow as a group.”
Square has embraced his role in the developmental process of the younger players. This week, he complimented second-year defensive tackle Justin Jones on his improved explosiveness. He said he looks forward to seeing how first-round pick Jerry Tillery looks on the practice field next to the vets.
Like many who have established themselves under Head Coach Anthony Lynn, Square is available. It’s part of the culture, something that doesn’t go unnoticed by the youngest Bolts.
“A lot of times in life, you don’t have that resource,” Broughton said. “So, you’re not going to get somewhere by yourself. No one ever does anything by themselves. They have help – and that’s our help.”