Below are three takeaways from Drue Tranquill's press conference on Monday as the Bolts began Phase Two of their offseason program.
'Excitement and belief' in the building
Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill spoke to the media on Monday to talk about the Chargers' draft class, how his offseason is going and the new additions the Bolts have made on defense in free agency.
Tranquill talked about the energy he's felt in the building since returning for the first few weeks of offseason training.
"I certainly sense that there is an incredible amount of belief," Tranquill said. "I think our guys really believe in our coaching staff. I think they believe in what [General Manager] Tom Telesco is doing, building this roster. I think we believe in our management and what they're doing with our team here in LA and with the new facility. You just sense that there's some really good momentum being built...We've got a lot of guys in there just competing with each other. There's a lot of good energy. I think it's just the excitement and belief that we're going to do something good."
As Tranquill prepares for his fourth season in the NFL, he talked about what he's been working on during the offseason and where he expects the Bolts defense to take the next step heading into the second year in head coach Brandon Staley's scheme.
"The first year of the defense, you're just trying to learn how to communicate, what to say to each other on the field. I think diving into those layers, to me, has been something. I think working on my explosiveness, my coverage and just honing those skills as the League continues to evolve into more of a passing league, you have to be able to do that as an inside linebacker. I'm really working on the mental side of that, but also the physical side of that — my patience, my footwork have been some areas that I've leaned into."
Free agent additions on defense
During last year's offseason, general manager Tom Telesco and Staley set out to revamp the offensive line with the additions of center Corey Linsley, guard Matt Feiler and left tackle Rashawn Slater. In 2022, Staley and Telesco have focused in on making key additions to almost every position on defense either through the draft or during free agency.
Tranquill talked about his new teammates added during free agency and what they will bring to the the Bolts' defense in 2022.
"I think, just the opportunity to bounce back gives us a lot of hope," he said. "The additions of arguably the best corner in the league [CB J.C. Jackson], one of the best edge defenders of the past decade [OLB Khalil Mack], two interior guys that have just been dominant in their first few years in the league [DL Austin Johnson and DL Sebastian Joseph-Day] and all of the other guys that we've brought in."
Tranquill talked about the addition of fellow linebacker Troy Reeder and how well he's fit in already due to the familiarity he has with Staley's defense.
"He's just talking like he's known this defense forever because he's played in it, but it's so cool to see a new addition to the room just being able to come in seamless," he said of Reeder. "He's talking ball, our language. It's cool to just have all of these guys that are in attendance for OTAs [Organized Team Activities] and offseason workouts. It's through the roof right now."
While the offseason is just beginning, Tranquill and the rest of the defense knows the opportunity that lies ahead in 2022.
"To be able to add some of these additions and get better personnel-wise and be able to add to our team is really, really super cool. Being able to train with those guys the past week or so, they all seem super hungry and super excited for the opportunity we have here in LA."
AFC West: 'It's going to be a movie'
While the Chargers have made a lot of key additions to their roster, the other teams in the AFC West have added all-star talent in this early part of the offseason. Tranquill talked about Staley's message for the team regarding the talent and competition in the AFC West.
"I think I tweeted, 'It's going to be a movie,' and it is," Tranquill said. "It's so exciting to see all of the additions to the [division.] [Head] Coach [Brandon] Staley says it all the time, but he's like, 'If you want to be the best, you have to compete against the best and prove that you're the best.' That's certainly what we're approaching here in the AFC West…It's going to be a showdown and I'm sure that there will be a lot of primetime games, not that it matters, but it's going to be exciting to see how it unfolds. Who knows, maybe we'll sneak three teams into the playoffs."
Speaking of primetime games, last Thursday, the NFL announced at the draft that the Chargers will face the Kansas City Chiefs Week 2 for the first Thursday Night Football game exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. Though the rest of the NFL schedule will be released on May 12 at 5:00pm PT on NFL Network, the Chargers already know their first primetime game of the season. Tranquill talked about the potential advantage of playing their Thursday night game early in the season.
"We were talking about that down in the training room," Tranquill said. "This being only year four for me, I think all of my Thursday night games have come mid to later in the season. It'll be interesting to see kind of how that affects [having it earlier]. I asked that question to one of our trainers. I was like, 'This has to help guys just getting it done,' and they were like, 'Certainly.' So, we'll see."
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