While fans have been attending Chargers training camp for the last few days since it opened on July 28, Saturday's practice truly felt like football is officially back.
To kick off this special time, the NFL decided the first full Saturday of training camp would be known as "Back Together Saturday" and the Bolt Fam didn't disappoint.
"It's lit," wide receiver Mike Williams said of the atmosphere. "This is the most lit [camp has been in a couple of years], for sure. It's a Saturday and there were a lot of people out here. We're going to enjoy the energy. There was a lot of energy out here. I feel like we played off that energy today ... We're looking forward to having them at SoFi and getting this thing going."
Chargers fans in attendance were treated to a surprise appearance by Chargers Legend Antonio Gates who got them ready for the day's action and even took selfies and signed items.
Those in the crowd also got a breakdown of what was happening on the field courtesy of the team's Spanish radio broadcast duo of Adrian Garcia-Marquez and Francisco Pinto.
The pair did everything from getting fans' input on players, calling plays, and even called a contest to see which player could corral the most footballs.
For them, it was a thrill to be back among those who love the game the most.
"The fans were so awesome, pumped up and so well informed about every detail of this new era," Garcia-Marquez said. "I'm excited about the Young King, the Príncipe Azul and Coach Staley's vision for the new Reino del Rayo [Bolt Kingdom.]"
"It was amazing," Pinto added. "Somebody gave me a good point about what these last 16-18 months have done to us as a community and they mentioned the word family. It brought us together. That bond is even stronger than what it was before because of what we've gone through. The day is beautiful, the sun is up, all the players are out here, and these fans know there is something special happening. There's just so much positive energy."
But the fourth practice ahead of the pads coming on Monday was a hit for everyone involved and it was clear, the lifeblood of the team was missed greatly in 2020 and it's great to have them back.
"It's kind of a completely different vibe compared to last year," said Kenneth Murray. "Obviously, last year there was nobody out here and nobody in the stands. It's good to have the fans back, have their energy here. We definitely feed off of their energy. It's just good to have people out here cheering you on."
"We're made of that, we need that [fan] connection," Pinto said. "Even us who work for the team, we need the fans there. To be able to do that again, to be in a packed SoFi Stadium and these practices, it gives [the players] so much energy. They feed off of it. So imagine what it's gonna be like at that stadium. It's gonna be electric and what football's supposed to be."
Odds & Ends
Defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill on what stands out about Derwin James: "Explosion. Just his explosion, his power, getting to the ball. He's quarterbacking. He's signaling everything in. A lot of the time, his back is turned to us, so he's going through all of the paces and getting all of the calls into the guys, but when he lines up and plays, I'm seeing him go from sideline to sideline. We talk about 'I see yous' as point productions that we want to talk about. Every time I look up the 'I see yous' on the sheet, Derwin probably has seven or eight throughout the practice."
Kenneth Murray on this Monday's first padded practice: "Well, that's real football. Point. Blank. Period. I mean, I've been waiting for this. For me, to be honest, it's kind of hard for me to practice without pads on because I'm such a physical and aggressive guy. I always want to put my hands on somebody. I always want to hit somebody, so it's kind of hard doing it without pads. Now, I can kind of just cut it loose. That's what I'm going to do on Monday, is just cut it loose."
WR Mike Williams on Justin Herbert in year two: "He's more poised. He has communicated a little bit more. The way he speaks, he knows what he's saying and knows what to do. He knows how to put everybody in the right spots. That's what we need in a quarterback — a leader. He has become that. He has become more vocal. We're excited for the season."
Check out some shots of the Bolt Fam taking over the Jack Hammett Sports Complex on "Back Together Saturday"
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