Members of the Chargers defense have spent all offseason learning the ins and outs of a brand new scheme – one markedly different from what players on last season's roster are accustomed to.
As Los Angeles passes the halfway point of training camp with an eye towards three preseason games and joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers, defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill discussed the team's progress through the first two weeks at Jack Hammett Sports Complex.
"We knew that it would be a huge change for these guys from the scheme that they had been in, but these guys have embraced it from day one," Hill said after Tuesday's practice. "There are a lot of adjustments, especially with the back-end guys. Playing in that shell coverage, there's not a lot of single-high [safety].
"That took some time, but those guys were all in. They're starting to find their footing. You can see that they're starting to get a lot more comfortable back there."
Hill added that every coach instructs differently, so it's been important for the current staff to ensure players are forming the proper habits required to play in this defense. One veteran who has taken to the teaching is fifth-year cornerback Michael Davis.
Hill described Davis as a player who is a willing learner and "is detailed in everything that he does." Davis also has a unique combination of size and speed that the defensive coaches plan to maximize.
"He's disruptive out there and we want him to use his length and width," Hill said. "We know that he has the foot speed to run with a lot of guys, so we want him to get up there and challenge guys as much as possible."
Davis said his unit has gotten "better and better" from the first training camp practice to present. He added that the new scheme – which will have him playing more man-to-man than in years past – will force opposing quarterbacks to constantly think about what the defense is doing and how they'll line up.
Davis also identified an early strength of this new-look D.
"We're tight in the red zone," he said. "I'll leave it at that."
Hill recognized head coach Brandon Staley for – from the beginning – establishing the principles and philosophies of how he wants to play defense before diving into the X's and O's.
As far as installation, Hill said it's easy for NFL teams to scheme against just a few things, which is why you have to have "enough in your pocket."
"We feel like it's not complicated once we install," he said, "but we want to make it complicated on the teams that we do face by the different personnel groupings that we give, by the different locations that we place people in, and just by being able to protect guys and really make them force the way they work down the field.
"We like the way that we do things here and I think that the players are feeling the same."
Odds and Ends
- Wide receiver Jalen Guyton stuck around after Tuesday's practice to get extra work in with quarterback Justin Herbert. Guyton then discussed the importance of those post-practice reps, likening it to a basketball player shooting free throws. "It's just some things that come with reps," he said. "It doesn't take a crazy back-breaking effort to improve at it, it's just doing it."
- Hill said cornerback Tevaughn Campbell had a strong showing at last Sunday's open practice at SoFi Stadium. "He really popped out on film," Hill said. "I thought that he was connected on a lot of the routes. I thought that he was in great position all day. He played calm and at peace. He wasn't rushed. He knows that he has a big engine. He knows that he has good size. He used all of those traits this past Sunday."
- Hill has a nickname for linebacker Kyzir White: "I call him the bully because regardless of who he is going against, he is really imposing on them," Hill said. "Size doesn't matter, it's about attitude, and he has the attitude."
- The Chargers have open practices at Jack Hammett Sports Complex on Wednesday and Thursday before their first preseason game against the Rams this Saturday at 7 p.m. from SoFi Stadium.
Take a look at some of the best photos from the eleventh day of Chargers Training Camp 2021.
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