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Training Camp Takeaways: Brandon Staley Pleased With Chargers Rookies

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Two days after their preseason-opening win against the Rams, the Chargers were back at Jack Hammett Sports Complex for the first of two straight afternoon practices in Costa Mesa.

Head coach Brandon Staley told reporters Rashawn Slater was held out of Monday's session with a minor lower back issue that was "more precautionary than anything." The first-year offensive tackle is expected to return for joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers later in the week.

Staley said he was encouraged by what he saw on Saturday from Slater and rest of the 2021 rookie class, including fifth-round offensive lineman Brenden Jaimes.

"Brenden, I think, has done really well on the O-line," Staley said. "He's playing guard and tackle. We're really moving him at both spots. I think that he had a really nice night last week, teaming up with Rashawn on that left side. He also has shown that as a swing guy, you have to be able to maybe go out and play some tackle. We're using him that way, too. He's been a lot of fun to coach."

Jaimes played 49 offensive snaps against the Rams, second to only tackle Storm Norton. All 20 of Slater's snaps came on the Bolts' opening drive.

The lone draft pick who didn't play was defensive back Mark Webb Jr. The seventh-round selection from Georgia returned to practice Monday and should make his NFL debut this Sunday against San Francisco.

"Even getting Mark Webb back today, I think that you can see what he brings to the table in the kicking game and on defense," Staley said.

Second-round cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. had three tackles in his first NFL game. Staley thought he had a good performance, but knows he can be even better.

"On this practice field is where he is really going to grow, defending Keenan [Allen], Mike [Williams], [TE] Jared [Cook] and all of these premium receivers that we have," Staley said. "The good thing I like about him, that's trending, is that he is working really hard at his game."

Sixth-round linebacker Nick Niemann led the Chargers with seven tackles against the Rams. Fourth-round outside linebacker Chris Rumph II added four tackles and a half-sack on 25 defensive snaps. The former Duke Blue Devil "has really flashed" according to his head coach.

Staley added that third-round tight end Tre' McKitty is proving capable of executing the roles the team drafted him to play. Third-round wide receiver Joshua Palmer led the team last Saturday with six catches for 36 yards. Sixth-round running back Larry Rountree III had eight carries for 63 yards – including 24- and 25-yard rushes – while also adding eight snaps on special teams.

"I thought that they played well the other night," Staley said. "I really like where that class is."

Odds and Ends

  • Staley was scheduled to speak with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan on Monday evening to go over the plan for Thursday and Friday's joint practices. "We talked a little bit before preseason camp, but we're going to kind of iron out a lot of these details tonight, relative to our injury reports and things like that," Staley said.
  • Wide receiver Mike Williams, running back Justin Jackson and long snapper Cole Mazza are among the players not expected to practice this week against San Francisco, according to Staley. Los Angeles signed LS Matt Overton on Monday.
  • Linebacker Kyzir White made the most of his 14 defensive snaps last Saturday night. His biggest play came on a third-and-12 in the first quarter when he stopped Rams running back Jake Funk for a five-yard loss. "It felt good to go against another color," White said. "We've been going at it all training camp against our teammates, our brothers. So, to go out there against an opposing team, it felt good to get back out there and rally. We talked about it all practice, creating an energy that everybody else will feed off. That's what we did."
  • Outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell, who has played for the Packers and most recently the Giants, is expected to be a key contributor on both defense and special teams. On Monday, he shared his impressions of the Chargers' new defensive scheme. "I've been in a similar system, but I feel like Coach Staley is bringing a whole new perspective to the similar three-four style defense," Fackrell said. "I think we'll be even more multiple than a lot of three-four defenses. The biggest thing is keeping offenses guessing."

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