Over the coming weeks, we’ll be checking in with the Chargers’ position coaches and coordinators to get the inside scoop. We continue with DB Coach Ron Milus.
Chargers.com: I think it’s very important to note the success we’ve had in the secondary since you’ve been here. In fact, the last five years, we’ve had at least one defensive back make the Pro Bowl each season. Going into your sixth season, just how high has the standard been set to be a defensive back for the Los Angeles Chargers?
Milus: It’s pretty high! Like you said, we’ve had some success with the players we’ve brought in and coached up. But it’s the players. They’ve got a lot of talent. Our guys have come in and competed against each other, so if they can somehow win a job here, they should be able to play at a high level on Sundays.
Chargers.com: There is a lot of camaraderie in this unit. The way they celebrate every interception, taking that group photo in the end zone. Have you ever been around a group who is this close with one another? That are so tight-knit?
Milus: I don’t think I can say I have. This group is a little bit different. We have quite a few guys who have been with me quite a long time, like Jahleel (Addae) and Jason (Verrett). And we know what Adrian Phillips can do for undrafted free agent. We have a lot of guys who have stepped up to the plate, but just as important, they’ve stepped up to the plate together. So that’s what I think really has made them so close.
Chargers.com: We’re going to split the cornerbacks and safeties into two separate interviews, and we’ll focus today on the CBs. You have a pretty deep group back there. How do you see the evaluation process playing out with some tough decisions to make at the end of training camp?
Milus: There’s some talent there. I’ll just say this – we feel very comfortable putting out at least four or five of those corners on any given Sunday. We think we know what’s going to happen with the top four guys – Jason Verrett, Casey Hayward, Trevor Williams, Desmond King. They’ve played pretty well in the National Football League. But there are guys like Mike Davis, who has done a heck of a job. Craig Mager has really come on this offseason. Those are two more guys who are really (impressing) this offseason.
Chargers.com: A simple question, but what makes Casey Hayward so special?
Milus: His instincts are probably his biggest asset. Obviously he also has the ability to make a play on the ball. But instinctively, he sees plays before they happen. It’s, ‘OK, the last time they were in that formation this happened, or the last time this guy took that split this happened.’ He has an idea of what might happen before they snap the ball.
Chargers.com: What does it mean to get Jason Verrett back healthy, and where do you see him fitting in?
Milus: Oh, it’s huge! A couple years ago, everyone in the league thought very highly of Jason and where he was as a football player. The last couple years he’s been hurt, but what I saw the last couple practices of minicamp, it seems that his quickness is starting to come back. His change of direction is coming back. All I know is that our players are excited for him, I’m excited for him, and he feels like he’s going to come back to where he was.
Chargers.com: Now with Jason being down, Trevor Williams came on and really impressed as a starter the past two years. How are you going to be able to play all these guys?!
Milus: That’s a good question (laughs). At the end of the day, they are all going to get an opportunity to play. A guy like Trevor, we know we can count on him as a starter in this league. He’s been one for us for a year and a half. We’re going to figure this out as we go.
Chargers.com: What is it about Trevor Williams that has let him come in and really establish himself as a reliable starter after going unnoticed during the draft process in 2016?
Milus: Trevor has a steady demeanor. He has a great way (that) he goes about preparing. Those all help him, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s 6-0 and runs a 4.4-something. He’s a football player. Let’s just put it that way. He’s been able to come in and fit in no matter what situation we put him in. He’s able to excel.
Chargers.com: Desmond King had such a steady rookie year. Have you seen him take another step in his development heading into his second season?
Milus: It’s funny you say that because I was just telling Desmond the other day that where he’s at now, I think he’s come a long way from where he was early last season. Mentally and physically. Where he’s at now, he’s one of the better tacklers on our football team. He’s preparing exactly how he should be preparing.
Chargers.com: You mentioned Michael Davis earlier. What does he need to do in order to take his game to the next level?
Milus: Oh, Michael has improved as much as anyone. He really has. He has a better understanding of what we’re doing on defense, and he’s putting himself in the right situations to succeed. Mike’s thing is that he has height, weight, and he can really run fast. Now he’s starting to put all that together.
Chargers.com: Craig Mager went from a third-round pick a few seasons ago to a player who began 2017 on the practice squad before being promoted to the active roster. How did he handle that, and what does his future look like?
Milus: Craig’s in a really good spot right now. We’ve talked a lot, and he has said that being on the practice squad was actually a good thing for him a year ago. That it got him back to being more focused and understanding that nothing is given. He’s got a great mindset right now. He did a really nice job in OTAs. Shoot, he’s another that is going to have a chance to contribute. There really is going to be some stiff competition.
Chargers.com: Jeff Richards spent all of last year on the practice squad. Fans haven’t really gotten the chance to watch him play, so what does he bring to the table?
Milus: Jeff looks really good. He had a good offseason. He played safety for most of his career, and was transitioning to corner when he was in training camp with Carolina. We were able to get him off waivers, and he is developing into a good corner with size. He gives us some length.
Chargers.com: There are some undrafted guys who are also nipping on their heels! Guys like Tony Brown, Brandon Facyson, Marcus Edmond and B.J. Clay.
Milus: Those guys are sleepers. Tony has uncanny speed and agility. Facyson, he’s got size and length. His ability to play press is what we’ve been looking for. He’s the prototype you look for in this defense. And then Marcus and B.J., those guys have talent, too! There really is going to be some stiff competition across the board.
Take a look at the entire Bolts roster leading into 2018 Preseason.
The Chargers’ 2018 training camp schedule is official, so mark your calendars to watch the Bolts prepare for the upcoming season! The team will hold 14 practices open to the public between July 28 and August 23. For more information, please visit www.chargers.com/camp.