For Chargers Rookies, Minicamp Means ‘Mastering the Playbook’  

2019 Rookie Mini Camp at Hoag Performance Center on Friday, May 10, 2019 in Costa Mesa, CA.
2019 Rookie Mini Camp at Hoag Performance Center on Friday, May 10, 2019 in Costa Mesa, CA.

Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn acknowledged Friday that “heads are spinning” at the start of rookie minicamp.

In addition to getting comfortable with unfamiliar surroundings and meeting teammates, Lynn said the youngest Chargers must be obsessed with learning a new system.

For that, there’s assigned reading material.

“Every hour, every minute is dedicated to that playbook – and if not that playbook, your position coach,” Lynn said.

Safety Nasir Adderley is all ears. The second-round pick said he met some of his veteran teammates in the locker room Friday, including cornerback Casey Hayward and safeties Adrian Phillips and Rayshawn Jenkins. The advice they imparted on him was simple: Be ready to learn and take things day-by-day.

“Right now, I’m just focused on mastering the playbook,” Adderley said. “That’s what I’m devoting a lot of my time to. I’m just trying to stay locked in, engaged and just make sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.”

Adderley described how he had to learn two different systems at Delaware due to a coaching change after his sophomore season. The rookie excelled at both corner and safety in college, earning second-team AP FCS All-American honors in 2018.

He called Friday’s on-field session with Defensive Backs Coach Ron Milus “a little bit of a refresher.”

“I feel really good about the system,” Adderley said. “Coach Milo does a great job [of] just breaking down everything and simplifying it. He allows you to play fast. That’s something I really love and am excited about.”

There’s a learning curve for all newcomers, but perhaps the most intensive comes at the quarterback position. Easton Stick played in a pro-style offense at North Dakota State and went 49-3. His college head coach Chris Klieman called him the smartest player he’s ever been around.

While Stick said he isn’t overwhelmed by his new surroundings, he explained the dynamic is different – especially sharing a huddle with teammates he just met. Couple that with learning an NFL offense in real time, and it’s plain to see the obvious adjustment.

"You know, there are some similarities, but it's a brand new language,” said Stick. “[It’s] just learning how to speak it, what you're calling things and just controlling everything at the line of scrimmage. Obviously, at the quarterback position, that's a big part of it.”

All rookies – first-round defensive tackle Jerry Tillery included – aren’t expected to leave minicamp as playbook experts; coaches just want to see progress. What may feel mundane in May will ultimately pay dividends come September.

“You have to spend time together going through it all,” Tillery said. “That’s how you get better. That’s how you learn things, spend the time. That’s what we’ve been doing.”

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