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Chargers Get Through Short Week, Focused on Early-Season Rest


The NFL season is underway for the Chargers.

Following the Week 1 victory over Las Vegas, the Bolts had to quickly shift their focus to the Chiefs, as they traveled to take on Kansas City on the first Thursday Night Football of the season.

Here's a breakdown of news from the Chargers second week of the season:

Monday: Bolts look towards KC after Week 1 win

Monday was a jam-packed day for the Chargers, as Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley and others spoke to the media.

With only a couple of days to prepare for the Chiefs, Staley added that while there are a couple of difficult aspects to short weeks, he looked forward to it.

"There's definitely enough time in the day," Staley said. "There's enough time in the day, and that's what we're trying to do, is take advantage of the time in the day, do it the best we can."

"These are fun games. I'm excited for our football team. We have to get to work," Staley added.

Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill talked specifically about the difficult matchup his defense would be up against in Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and what his team would try to do to stop him.

"It's always tough with him," Hill said. "The biggest thing you talk about is can we make him perform from the pocket and not extend plays because once he gets out the pocket, he's a whole other animal.

"It's always challenging, but if we can do a good job of trying to condense the pocket and really make him work from there and see if our pass rushers can come alive, that would be ideal," Hill added. "We just have to make it tough on him. We know he's going to make his plays, but we have to force him to get the ball off his hands right away."

Quarterback Justin Herbert, who came off a 279-yards and three-touchdown performance against the Raiders, also talked about the short week, adding that while there is less time to prepare, playing in primetime is an exciting opportunity.

"I think it's always a great opportunity to go play football," Herbert said. "I know that our guys are really excited for this one. To be able to play on primetime, Thursday Night Football, it's something you always grow up dreaming about."

"It is a quick week, a short week, but we're going to do everything we can to get prepared and get our bodies back so that we have a chance on Thursday," Herbert added.

After leaving Sunday's game with injury, Staley said an update on wide receiver Keenan Allen was "in-progress". As for cornerback J.C. Jackson, Staley called him "50/50" for the Thursday night game.

Prior to the media sessions, Jordan Dajani of CBS Sports awarded the Bolts an 'A- grade' following their season opening win. You can find the full article here.

In transactional news, the Chargers signed defensive lineman Christian Covington to the active roster from the team's practice squad and to make room for him on the roster, the team waived defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko.

Check out some photos of the Chargers on the practice field before the trip to KC for Thursday Night Football

Tuesday: Defensive approach against the Chiefs

Going up against Chiefs this time around would look quite different.

After trading wide receiver Tyreek Hill in the offseason, the Kansas City offense had a different look this time around. Despite Hill not being on the team anymore, safety Derwin James Jr. talked about how even though he wasn't there, that didn't mean the Chiefs didn't have weapons. Still, after the defense closed out the Week 1 win, James knew what he wanted from the unit in Week 2.

"Tyreek is different, but they still have guys that can get down the field if you're not careful with Mecole [Hardman] and [Marquez] Valdes-Scantling," James said. "So we have to play it straight."

"I feel we built the defense to win games and close out games. Being able to go to KC, we want to come out as a defense and play hard," he added.

When it comes to Mahomes, James echoed defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill's statement about keeping him in the pocket and what the Chargers had to be prepared for on Thursday.

"Man, making sure we keep him in the pocket and cover the guys we need to cover," James said.

"He's definitely his best on the scramble drill. We've got to be ready for all that," he added.

In order to limit Mahomes, Staley knows that it will have to be a team effort. Still, after a three sack performance for Khalil Mack in the season opener against the Raiders, Staley added the value Mack presents when going up an offense like Kansas City's.

"You need a team to be able to defend an offense like this, and certainly a player like Patrick," Staley said. "Any time you are facing an offense that has weapons — running backs, receivers, tight ends — and that has an outstanding offensive line, you're going to need the same thing on defense, that same type of formula."

"What Khalil does is he gives you that chance up front, both in the run game and the pass rush, to be able to impact the game. You need a lot more people than just your starting 11 to be able to defend a team like this," he added.

On Tuesday, the Chargers announced that they signed defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko to the practice squad.

Wednesday: Previewing the primetime matchup

On Wednesday, the team traveled to Kansas City in preparation for the primetime showdown.

Chargers Senior Writer Eric Smith talked with Matt McMullen, who covers the Chiefs for to preview the game.

McMullen talked about who he thinks the Chiefs should be 'most wary about' ahead of the matchup.

"Speaking for myself, I think the obvious answer has to be Justin Herbert," McMullen said. "He and Mahomes have had some great battles over the last few years, and there's no reason to suspect Thursday will be any different."

"Coach Reid pointed out on Tuesday that Herbert has seemed to get better every year, which is what you hope transpires with a talented young quarterback," he added.

Also on Wednesday, Smith released his weekly Chargers mailbag. This week, he previewed the Thursday Night Football showdown.

In the final injury report before the game, WR Keenan Allen and TE Donald Parham Jr. were listed as "OUT" for Thursday's game. CB J.C. Jackson was listed as "QUESTIONABLE".

Thursday: Chargers and Chiefs battle it out in primetime

On Thursday, the Chargers took on the Chiefs in their highly anticipated first meeting of the season. After exchanging blows, the Bolts narrowly fell in Kansas City by a final score of 27-24.

After the game, Staley talked about his team’s performance, pointing out that despite some absences, the team responded as he would have hoped.

"We had a lot of guys rise to the occasion that were backup players today that gave us a chance," Staley said. "And I'm proud of the way we competed as a team."

Running back Austin Ekeler added postgame that his message to the team was the importance of battling as a team.

"It's a team sport, but we showed the world tonight that we are going to battle all the way to the end," Ekeler said. "Even when we're banged up a little bit like you saw at the end, we are still going to put everything we can on the line to show that 'Hey, we're trying to contend'."

Wide receiver Mike Williams continued his tear of Arrowhead Stadium, hauling in eight passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. With Allen out with an injury, Williams talked about the opportunity to step up in his absence.

"Oh I love it," Williams said. "I mean as a playmaker, as a receiver obviously when you get a lot of opportunities you look forward to it so I was looking forward to it tonight."

"That's the type of player he is, we gave him a bunch of opportunities today we were trying to be aggressive to get him the football, get him off to a good start," Staley said about Williams. "I really liked the way we featured him tonight and I thought he played a whale of a game."

Friday: Staley talks TNF loss

After leaving the game in pain, quarterback Justin Herbert returned to the game against the Chiefs after only missing a play. Despite the injury, (which Staley announced Friday was a fracture to the rib cartilage) Herbert executed a touchdown drive with two fourth-down conversions to keep the Chargers in the game.

Staley also talked about how he loved the competitiveness his team showed on Thursday, adding that it is all a part of the long NFL season.

"I felt like we showed the type of competitiveness and the type of togetherness that you need in an environment like that," Staley said. "At the same time, we didn't make the winning plays that can close that game out. There were just a handful of plays that we're capable of making where you get close that game out."

"We need to keep improving, keep working at it. At the beginning of the season, you're still in that discovery phase. We just need to keep working at it as a group, keep improving. That's where our focus is going to be moving forward," Staley added.

After two games in five days, the team will get an extended recovery window before their Week 3 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After this tough stretch, Staley points out that this rest is needed and it is now time to flip the page to the next opponent.

"That stretch is really tough on these guys. No matter when that Thursday [game] comes, it's really tough on these guys," Staley said. "If you just see what these guys have to go through to get ready for an NFL game, let alone when you have to travel, it's a tough one."

"Rest is such a big part of this profession, regardless of who you are — journalist, coach, player. We're trying to get our guys recovered, and we have to get our minds right for Jacksonville," he added.

Odds and Ends

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