Here are five takeaways from Thursday’s practice at Jack Hammett Sports Complex:
The Call that Changed Troymaine Pope’s Life
On Sunday, running back Troymaine Pope had an 81-yard punt return touchdown that sparked the Bolts in the second quarter.
While Pope spent time on the Seattle Seahawks’ and Chargers’ practice squads last season, he was ultimately promoted to the Bolts’ active roster in December and has stuck with the Chargers through the spring and summer programs this year.
But his road to the Bolts has been a long one, and one filled with “ups and downs,” according to the running back.
After going undrafted in 2016 out of Jacksonville State, Pope was at a crossroads. He was set on going to work with his mom at her factory job, but then Seattle called that summer.
It was a call that changed his life.
“I didn’t know if I was really going to play football again,” Pope explained. “I didn’t know if it was over with or not, but when I got that call (from Seattle) I knew was going to make the most of that opportunity.”
Through it all and through numerous stints on teams from 2016 to now, Pope’s motivation has remained the same: his kids. He adds there’s no extra motivation going up against his former team this Saturday. It’s providing for his son and daughter that drives him.
“My kids just kept me pushing and kept me motivated,” he explained. “I knew I couldn’t just go on my butt and leave them empty-handed. I knew I had to make them food, provide clothes for them. So I just wanted to go to work and not look back on the things that went bad. Just focus on the things that are good and focus on the positive things that are going on in my life. Getting that call was one of the more positive things to happen at that moment in my life. So I was just focused and didn’t let a lot of stuff distract me at that time.”
Dontrelle Inman Returns
The Los Angeles Chargers announced on Thursday that they brought back wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. Inman was with the Bolts from 2014 until they traded him to the Chicago Bears in October 2017.
What Inman Brings to the Offense
With the wide receiving corps being one of the prime position battles to watch throughout camp and the preseason, the addition of Inman makes that that much more interesting.
Inman was with the Chargers during part of Head Coach Anthony Lynn’s first season with the team. However, due to recovering from an injury, Lynn never got to see what he was capable of doing on the field after a breakout season in 2016.
Now that he’s back, Lynn likes what he sees.
“He’s a good-looking height, tall,” Lynn mentioned. “He can run a little bit and (is an) excellent route-runner. I think he’s a guy that can line up across the board in any position, so that’s valuable to us. I think he’s going to bring some good depth to our receiving corps.”
It's not only the position depth and versatility that Inman brings to the table that Lynn likes, it’s also the receiver’s familiarity with the guy under center.
“He’s very familiar with our quarterback, he’s been here before,” Lynn said. “We just wanted to get more depth. I think (Inman’s familiarity with the team is) a good factor. (He’s a) veteran guy who’s been there and done it. To come in and compete with some of these younger guys in the next couple of weeks, I thought it was a good pick up.”
Status Quo for Starters in Preseason
Much has been made all offseason – and even through these last few weeks – about whether we’ll see a bulk of the Chargers starters in the preseason.
Well, while the third preseason game is usually viewed as the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, expect what you’ve seen over the last couple games to remain the same for those starters who have yet to suit up.
“The guys that have been playing all along, those guys are going to play, and they may play a little bit longer this game because it’s the third game,” Lynn said. “The guys that I’ve sat out, those guys are going to sit out.”
On the flip side, Lynn said cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. will be a player who will see some action at ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday. Lynn noted Hayward wanted some snaps and they’ll let him have a couple against the Seahawks.
Kyle Wilson on Learning from the Vets
Linebacker Kyle Wilson got the start last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints and had a key fumble recovery in the first quarter.
After starting last season on the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad, Wilson was released by Philly in October and signed to the Chargers’ practice squad less than a month later. He ended up being promoted to the active roster and appeared in the team’s final three regular-season and two postseason games for the Chargers.
But now that he’s had a full offseason and training camp with the Bolts, Wilson admits he’s become a lot more comfortable.
“Really, just being familiar with the playbook, the fundamentals and really just the culture that the coaches and players are trying to portray,” Wilson said. “(I’ve also worked on) being more confident in myself.”
Wilson also credits his peers with helping him along this camp. Afterall, the insight he can gain from guys like them is truly invaluable for someone wanting to make their mark.
“(I’ve learned most from) probably the whole linebacker corps,” he continued. “Denzel (Perryman,) Thomas (Davis Sr.,) (Jatavis Brown), all those guys are really just like players and coaches at the same time. It’s easy to be in the meeting room and out in the field with those guys.”