Here are five takeaways from Wednesday's Chargers training camp at Jack Hammett Sports Complex:
Badgley Focusing on Topping his Self-Set "High Standard"
A year ago, Michael Badgley was in training camp with the Indianapolis Colts cutting his teeth as a rookie and learning from one of the best to ever kick in Adam Vinatieri.
Fast forward to this camp in 2019, and Badgley is in his first full offseason with the Chargers after posting the most efficient season in team history in 2018, making 93.8 percent of his field goal attempts, marking the best single-season field goal percentage with at least 15 attempts. Oh, and he booted a 59-yard field goal in Week 14's win over the Cincinnati Bengals – the longest-made field goal in team history.
So after making franchise history, what's on the horizon for the "Money Badger?"
"You set a standard for yourself," Badgley said. "But with such a high standard, you want to try and come in and top that; get better each day, somehow. One point of focus when I went back to [New] Jersey for that six-week break was getting kickoffs going, getting that rhythm feeing good and put them deep."
For those of us who don't kick, Badgley said the biggest difference from booting a 59-yard field goal to a kickoff comes down to rhythm. He said it's a process that just takes working at it.
Although he doesn't have a direct competitor this camp, Badgley feels he's competing with himself. Despite not being in a game situation in practice, there are plenty of onlookers who give him enough pressure to make the kicks.
"When we're doing field goal period, you've got guys like Philip Rivers and Mike Pouncey and they're all expecting you to kick well," Badgley said. "I think about those guys and then when you add a guy like Thomas Davis who's been playing for 15 years, you want to be able to show vets like that, that it's one of the parts of the game you don't have to worry about. The less you talk about a kicker, I think the better he's doing."
Offensive Takeaways from the First Preseason Game
We hadn't gotten a chance to hear from Chargers Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt since the team played in their first preseason game last Thursday against the Arizona Cardinals.
While we heard who stood out to Head Coach Anthony Lynn and Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley, Whiz focused on the running backs in the game, specifically, Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. Aside from the fumble in the first quarter, he was pleased with what the backs showed.
"I think they ran strong, they made good decisions on their cuts (and) they did a good job (with) protections," Whiz said. "It was nice to see the way they played."
Big Brother Benjamin
Travis Benjamin is the longest-tenured wide receiver on the Chargers roster as he gets set to enter his eighth season. Although he's only been with the Chargers since 2016, he's evolved into more of a leader for the wide receiver corps.
Just ask Whisenhunt, who said No. 12 has "done a great job" with some of the younger wideouts.
But ask Benjamin himself and he'll tell you while he doesn't actively seek it out, it's instead, something that just comes natural to him.
"I just feel like a big brother knowing that you've got your little brothers out there knowing that you've got to show them the way and lead them to better things," Benjamin mentioned. "I don't look at it that way, but the coaches kind of put it on me (and tell the younger receivers) like, 'Hey, listen to Trav! Or talk to Keenan or talk to Travis.' I kind of absorb it in and it's kind of a great feeling for me."
As he gets set to enter his fourth season with the Bolts, Benjamin has also become one of the most reliable receivers. If you need any proof, look to the Week 15 win over the Chiefs last season.
"(Benjamin's) does a good job of being in the right place (on the field)," Whisenhunt reflected. "He's bailed us out. If you look to the Kansas City game on Thursday night, we had some injuries and he was in (on) that last drive. He made a huge catch on 4th-and-7 and he hadn't played that position a lot. That's what you're looking for. Travis can do a lot of things. We really appreciate the fact that understands what we're trying to do. He can line up in a number of spots and of course, he's got tremendous speed. There (are) areas we can use him that give defenses problems. It's great to have him out here."
Saints Come Marching In
The New Orleans Saints will make their way to Jack Hammett Sports Complex for the third-straight training camp on Thursday for two days of joint practices with the Chargers. This also marks the second time the team will go up against another during camp, as they held practices with the Los Angeles Rams two weeks ago.
What's remarkable about facing the two teams is that both made it to the NFC Championship Game last season, giving the Chargers work against the NFC's elite.
"That's a pretty good test for us," Whisenhunt remarked." It's a tremendous value. They're tremendous organizations and their players are really professional. This year, we had a really good practice against the Rams, and then going against the Saints, who are a good football team, it helps get us prepared for the season. I think it's a tremendous opportunity and advantage for us doing that, and you really like doing it."
"It's knowing that we can compete against the best," Benjamin added. "Those guys were in the (NFC) Championship game and they were one game away from going to the Super Bowl. So each and every day we come out with the joint practices and we're moving the ball fluidly up and down the field and the defense playing well, we just feel complete as a unit and a team competing."
Benjamin also said he's excited for the second round of joint practices because he and other players will get to use new techniques against an unfamiliar opponent.
News and Notes…
The Chargers announced Wednesday morning that they signed TE Ben Johnson and in a corresponding move, waived Josh Corcoran. It's a reunion for Johnson as he spent last year's training camp with the Chargers. … Mike Williams did what he does best in games and went up – way up – to snag a pass and come down with it in the end zone for the touchdown.