Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers' moves over the first few weeks of free agency:
1. An Unforeseen Opportunity – The Chargers spent months scouting hundreds of free agents set to hit the market. They also did work on players they thought might be let go by other teams for various reasons. The Bolts never expected Mike Pouncey to be among the latter, yet there he was after the Miami Dolphins surprisingly released him. It provided an unexpected opportunity and the Bolts pounced. Here is what GM Tom Telesco said about the transaction:
"That one really fell into our lap. It wasn't something like we were looking at center in the offseason unless (someone) like Mike came along. We did all of our work with free agents as far as anticipating who was getting released from different teams. He wasn't on our list for that. We thought he was going to be solid in Miami. So when he was released, we got to work fast. We made sure we knew Mike as a person and as a player. We'd already seen a lot (from) him as a player (but did) a lot of research on him to make sure he fit inside our building and we got after that quickly. The center is such a critical part of the offense, a critical part of the run game and we think he can really bring us to a higher level there on the offense."
2.The Philip Rivers Factor– Pouncey didn't lack for suitors, explaining how he picked the Chargers over "five to seven" teams who reached out. The center is a three-time Pro Bowler who has established himself as one of the elite players at his position. While there were a number of factors that led to his decision to join the Bolts, Pouncey explained how the presence of Philip Rivers was instrumental:
"As soon as my agent called me and said the Chargers reached out, they went to the top of my list. They have a great quarterback… No disrespect to any of the guys in Miami. I enjoyed my career there for seven years with the Miami Dolphins, but to be able to play with an elite guy like this and a Hall of Fame quarterback is something I always dreamed of in my life. I can't wait. I'm so excited. I can't wait to get to work with him. He's a great football player. The way he goes to work out there, approaches the game and how competitive he is. I'd tell my guys all the time about the time we played the Chargers a few years ago, and they called his name and he was high-kneeing it out of the tunnel. He had so much excitement I said, 'That's the kind of guy I want to be with.' This is an opportunity of a lifetime and I couldn't pass it up."
3. Sturgis the Stabilizer– The Bolts weren't shy about their need to upgrade the kicker position this offseason. After inking Roberto Aguayo in January to join Nick Rose, the team made a significant investment to upgrade the kicking game when they signed Caleb Sturgis to a two-year deal. Sturgis is a strong-legged kicker who missed virtually all of the 2017 campaign for the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles after sustaining a hip injury in the season opener. However, he feels like he has what it takes to stabilize the Bolts' kicking game:
"It would mean a ton to me (to fix it), but also I have something to prove…Being hurt last year, I want to come out and have a great season. What better place to do that than here? The Chargers expressed a lot of interest in me, and that meant a lot. It was mutual. It's neat as a kicker because in free agency, it's a position that flies under the radar. But I'm excited to be part of this organization. I (understand what happened) last year, and they expressed interest in me. That was the coolest part because you want to be part of a team that really sought you out and wanted you."
4. Lock Down = Locked Up– Casey Hayward agreed to terms with the Chargers on a three-year contract on March 13, 2016. All he did over the first two seasons of that contract was emerge as one of the game's top cornerbacks, earning a pair of Pro Bowl berths and second-team All-Pro honors. While Hayward still had another year on his deal, the team locked him up with a contract extension days before the official start of the new league year. The lock down corner explained what went into his decision to re-up before hitting the open market in 2019:
"I want to be here long-term. I've been trying to set a legacy here for the last two years. I want to go out here and be one of the best Chargers of all-time. I started my career off with the Chargers pretty fast, and it's gone pretty well so far. Now I've got to keep solidifying myself over the next few years. Hopefully I'll eventually be recognized as one of the best Chargers to ever play as long as I keep playing at a high level. Keep getting those interceptions and making those big plays."
5. It Never Ends– The first days of free agency garner significant attention. Yet truthfully, free agency never ends. NFL rosters are perpetually fluid, meaning players come and go at all times. Thus, there are options available to be signed 12 months out of the year. Telesco explained how the team is always looking to improve the roster, stressing that free agency is always ongoing:
*"(The roster is) starting to take shape, and we'll get into the draft this month, but free agency never really ends. You never know what could come up. I could walk out and someone could get released and it's someone we'd want to sign. You just never know. It's never ending, but we're happy where we are right now and we can't wait to get going after the draft." *
Five Tips for Preventing ACL Injuries
- Always perform a dynamic warm-up before practice. Straight plane jogging, avoiding cutting or quick changes in direction, gets the blood flowing and allows ligaments and muscle tissue to adapt to activity.
- Perform light plyometric warm-up drills after jogging, like heel kicks, high knees, grapevines, backpedals, straight leg kicks and sprints with decelerations, at 50 percent effort for 20 to 30 yards to help increase muscle tissue sensitivity to stretch and change of direction and force.
- Stretch calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and trunk muscles with stretches of 30 seconds for two to three repetitions to help improve flexibility over time.
- Perform core strengthening exercises, like abdominal crunches, lower back swimmers, lunges and squats, to enhance coordination and power.
- Participate in balance and agility training exercises, like single leg balances, double leg hops coned running drills, to increase coordination, speed and strength.
*TIP: The agility and balance training, as well as squats, deadlifts and lunges, are best performed with a partner. This will allow safety in the form of spotting and support, and feedback about what your legs and knees are doing during the exercise. *
For more information on ACL injury prevention, or to request a complimentary consultation with Select Physical Therapy, please visit selectphysicaltherapy.com today!