Although they've been practicing for a few weeks, the Chargers offense and defense haven't shared a field at the same time.
That all changed on Monday for the first day of OTAs when the two sides of the ball became one and got to practice against each other for the first time this offseason.
"Today was the first day of many practices in a team setting," said Head Coach Mike McCoy. "This really is a time period for everyone to learn our system and each day try to find something to get better at. There are plenty of mistakes we're going to learn from on film today, but this is the first step…. I love the energy of football and the way the guys came out and played today."
"It was good energy out there," quarterback Philip Rivers added. "The key now is really maintaining (energy). Can we maintain that for nine more practices and minicamp? Maintaining that type of energy and work because if we do, we'll get out of what we need to this offseason."
Along with good energy came an air of competition around Chargers Park. With rookies mixing with veterans in 7-on-7 action, it was clear on both sides of the ball that guys came ready to make plays.
"Everybody on this roster is competing for one of the 53," McCoy said. "That's what we want to do. You want depth at every position on your team, and I think competition makes everybody better. No one is promised anything on this football team moving forward. We have to make sure the players understand that and they know that."
While no one is promised anything, even veterans have to earn their keep both on and off the field.
"This is the NFL; this isn't college anymore," running back Danny Woodhead said. "Everyone is good and I think that's what's expected. If you're here, you're a good football player. You just have to go out and take advantage of your opportunities. No matter how young or how old you are, every year is a new year and you have to prove yourself, the player you are and who you are as a teammate."
Although their physical skills speak for themselves, competition was also seen in players' demeanors and mentalities. One of the new veterans who made a solid first impression is offensive lineman Matt Slauson, who saw action at center on Monday. Slauson, who joined the Bolts just two weeks ago, brought his "throwback" and "nasty" demeanor to day one of OTAs.
"(Communication has) been really good," Rivers said of Slauson. "He reminds me of a couple guys who have been here in the past like (Jeromey) Clary, (Nick) Hardwick and (Kris) Dielman with his personality…. You need a little bit of everything and he just reminds me of some of those guys we had. I just think that can give you a little edge."
"(Slauson is) a throwback player," McCoy added. "You just love that. You turn on the film, coming from Chicago seeing him playing in a system that's similar to ours…You see Matt make all the calls and do certain things the way you want it to be done. His nasty (demeanor) and the way he plays the game; he's an old throwback-type player."
One of the Bolts' newest players who made an impression during rookie minicamp continued his flashy plays during OTAs. Tight end Hunter Henry fit right in working with Rivers, but above all, it was his presence and character that stood out for number 17.
"Some guys have a demeanor, like, 'I've been here for four or five years,'" Rivers said. "(Henry's) got that demeanor. Not in a cocky way, just like, 'I'm a football player and here's how you're supposed to act.' He's a guy, from a football standpoint, who's very easy to feel. He's very precise and has great body control. I think he's going to have to make an impact for us and I think he will."