Here are five takeaways from Day 3 of Chargers training camp at Jack Hammett Sports Complex:
Pads came on – The unofficial start to training camp came on a hot Saturday morning in Costa Mesa as the Los Angeles Chargers put on the pads for the first time at Jack Hammett Sports Complex.
Head coach Anthony Lynn said he likes to see technique and physicality in a padded practice – all while having his players look out for each other.
“It was physical, but you didn’t see a lot of people on the ground,” Lynn said. “I think that guys are starting to understand the tempo that we want in practice and the technique and things that we’re looking for. That was good.”
Safety Derwin James, who said he and his teammates aim for perfection, called Saturday’s practice an “okay day.”
“It’s a lot different in helmet and shorts than when you put the pads on,” he said. “When you put the pads on, it’s like, ‘Ok man, these are teammates,’ but [at the] same time you want to hit. You want to show you’re aggressive and physical. So, just all those things, but [also] being clean and keeping your teammates clean.”
All-Pro James hits reset – Few NFL rookies have accomplished what James did in 2018. The 22-year-old safety played all 16 regular-season games while leading the team in tackles (105) and interceptions (three, tied with Desmond King).
Entering year two, James said the accolades he racked up last season must be earned again.
“As we speak right now, there is no All-Pro yet this year,” he said. “You have to come out and play all  games, playoffs or whatever else we have. I mean, that was last year. Everybody gets a clean slate this year so, I mean, that’s how my mindset kind of works. Just basically starting over and doing it again.”
On Friday’s episode of Chargers Weekly, the official podcast of the team, SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Alex Marvez was asked just how good James could be.
“Could we say the name Rodney Harrison-type good?” Marvez said. “I mean, when we talk the great safeties in Chargers history, Rodney’s probably at the top of the list, if he’s not number one overall.
“[James is] special, and he’s a weapon. You can use him in so many different ways. You can blitz with him, you can cover with him. He tackles, supports in the run game. He does everything.”
Add leader to the list, too. James said he expects to take on more of that role in addition to being a force on the field.
“I don’t want to get comfortable,” he said. “You know, just keep growing as a player, as a person and as a teammate.”
Williams compared to Hopkins – Exactly one year ago, wide receiver Mike Williams put on a show during training camp, an eventual sign of things to come in 2018.
After scoring 11 total touchdowns last season, Williams has been compared to Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins by teammate Keenan Allen.
“That’s one of the players I look up to,” Williams said of Hopkins. “He’s somebody I talk to a lot. We went to the same college and we spend time together in the offseason sometimes. We just communicate. I look at him as a brother, so just to be compared to him, that’s good. He is one of the best in this league.”
Together with Allen, wide receiver Travis Benjamin and tight end Hunter Henry, Williams plays a key role in one of the more versatile pass-catching units in the NFL. Benjamin had just 24 targets last season in a season slowed by injuries, while Henry missed all of the 2018 regular season with an ACL injury.
Earlier this week on Chargers Weekly, general manager Tom Telesco said this isn’t necessarily year three for the 24-year-old Williams.
“We saw Mike kind of take off last year and really, essentially Mike’s going into his sophomore year right now,” he said. “He’s going into year two. We expect him to take another jump since he just didn’t contribute a whole lot his first year.”
Williams had multiple touchdowns in three different games last season. He was responsible for 20 of the team’s 29 points in Week 15’s come-from-behind, playoff-clinching win in Kansas City.
The block that (thankfully) wasn’t – One play in particular on Saturday drew a few laughs from the sidelines when quarterback Philip Rivers acted as a lead blocker, staring straight in the direction of James.
Rivers jokingly pointed at No. 33 as if he was going to attempt the block. The second-year safety knew better than to put hands on QB1.
“In a game, we know [I’d attack full speed], but I’m not going to touch Phil,” James said. “We need Phil. He came to me and told me, ‘I definitely wasn’t coming to block you.’”
Odds and ends – Quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw a beautiful ball to wide receiver Justice Liggins down the sidelines for a 35-yard would-be touchdown. … Offensive lineman Trent Brown worked at left tackle Saturday after spending Friday’s practice on the right side. … Wide receiver Andre Patton made some nice snags during 7-on-7s. … Lynn said fullback Derek Watt had the day off to rest … Benjamin took a reverse 20 yards during the 11-on-11 period, showing off his speed.
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