As an NFL rookie, acclimating to a new city, playbook and team can be daunting. Nevertheless, some of the strongest friendships are forged between newcomers and veterans who act as their mentors.
Entering his second NFL season, inside linebacker Denzel Perryman knows what being a rookie is like, which is why he is doing all he can to help those walking in the same footsteps he did last season.
"I know what it was like last year so I'm just trying to share my experience with those guys," he said. "I'm working my way (as a leader) and earning my stripes. But as far as the younger guys go, I went through it, so if I go out and do something, I'll let them know. I tell them if they have any questions to not hesitate to ask me and Manti (Te'o)."
Even with one year under his belt, Perryman continues to lean on his teammates. For instance, Te'o remains the person he goes to when he has questions, and he takes those lessons to heart. In turn, he shares that wisdom with the younger players as well.
Perryman ended his rookie year with a dynamic final seven games of the season. He was a force to be reckoned with between the white lines, finishing with 95 tackles on defense. He fell just shy of becoming the first rookie in team history to record a 100-tackle season, but notched 79 of his tackles over the final seven games.
Like many rookies, Perryman began making a name for himself on special teams before notching his first career start in Week 6. He recorded five special teams tackles in Week 2 at Cincinnati, which was the most for a Chargers player since 2011.
His experience succeeding on special teams and having that translate to defense is part of the advice he is imparting on this year's rookies.
"A couple rookies came over to my house during the spring and I told them, 'Get ready to play special teams because that's where I started off at.' I made a couple plays on special teams and I got (time) playing in games here and there but once I got that one start, I haven't looked back since."
Part of why Perryman hasn't looked back is due to one word: opportunity. Opportunities can be few and far between in the NFL, and as Perryman can attest, you have to make the most of them when they come around.
With training camp a mere month away, Perryman said this offseason has gone a lot smoother than last. Having prior knowledge and a season under his belt has made the game "slow down." However, he isn't complacent. A workhorse who notes he was with Te'o "24/7 just trying to learn the playbook" as a rookie, he said he is being just as diligent this offseason while adding and using some new resources to his advantage.
"Mentally, I'm (watching) film and studying all the notes that I have. I didn't have access to the playbook and notes like that (last year), so I've been going back and looking at old games but tapes that I recorded. As far as physically, just working out. I've been training a little bit harder than I did last year…. (but) my main focus this year is to pick up from where I left off and get even better."