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From The Podium | Bolts Impressed with Zion Johnson's Start

FTP 09.22

Below are three takeaways from Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi, Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill, guard Zion Johnson and safety Derwin James, Jr.'s media availability before practice on Thursday:

Zion Johnson's impressive start

The Chargers took the field for practice in pads as they begin to ramp up for Sunday's game against the Jaguars.

During his Thursday press conference, Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi had praise for rookie guard Zion Johnson who, through two weeks, has taken on some tough assignments while holding his own.

"I think it's encouraging. He's a good player," Lombardi said. "He hasn't really had a bad day since he's been here. We keep saying when he blocks people, they usually stay blocked."

"No one is 100 percent, but he's darn close. I think he's going to be a good player for a long time," Lombardi added.

On his first two games, Johnson said he's felt a range of emotions but is focused on improvement early in his NFL career.

"I'd say, we won, we lost one, so I got to feel the high, the experience of winning an NFL game and also the experience of losing one," Johnson said. "I think I've got to feel a good range in my first two games, but I know that we have a lot more games to play. I know we have a lot more games to play."

"We all have improvements to make including myself and go out on those practice fields and make that improvement," Johnson added.

Johnson has taken on some tough assignments early, including Chiefs Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Jones in Week 2. Showing his power in the run and pass game, the rookie guard has impressed.

Johnson talked about his approach to consistently improve, and how it is important for him to continue getting better despite the strong start.

"I just try to be professional in my approach," Johnson said. "At the end of the day, I want to be the best player I can for the team."

"That means correcting my own faults and mistakes I make, the tendencies I have just by being intentional, making sure I have certain things I'm looking at to work on each day and that way I can track my progress," Johnson added.

Johnson will have plenty of more tough assignments the rest of his rookie season. Still, playing against the revamped Chargers defensive line all throughout the offseason provided him with an opportunity to face a lot of different looks that keeps him prepared for what's to come.

"I think it's been great," Johnson said. "We have a lot of talented guys on our team and different play styles so to go against them every day, I feel like I've gotten a good range of the different play styles of guys in the league."

"I feel like I'm only going to get better over time," Johnson later added.

Chargers focused on improving run game

The Bolts offense is aware of their struggles in the run game.

Off to a slow start through two games, Lombardi talked about the run offense and said that it's something the team is focusing on.

"I think some of it is situational," Lombardi said. "We've had a lot of short-yardage runs. We have had an inordinate amount of third-and-1, third-and-2, so you're converting some of those, but they are not big gains."

"Some of it is just execution. Some of it is a good player on the other side that made a play. It's early in the season," Lombradi added. "I think when you watch who we have running the ball, who we have blocking for him, in a few weeks, it is not going to be as big of a deal, but it is certainly something we're focusing on."

When asked if the limited run game early in the season has come as a result of the defensive game plans, Lombardi added that it was too early to tell.

"They've been playing the run well in some cases, but I think it's too early to tell," Lombardi said. "It's something we're monitoring."

The next test for this Bolts run game will come versus a Jaguars team that has allowed the third-fewest amount of rushing yards through the first two weeks. Lombardi touched on what awaits the offense come Sunday and why the defensive front a challenge.

"They're good. I think you were aware that the ends were going to be an issue coming into it," Lombardi said. "Then, as you watch the film, these inside players are pretty active, too. It's a good group."

"It's one of the strengths of the defense. They sure put it on Indianapolis this past week. It's challenging," Lombardi added.

Hill talks Trevor Lawrence:

The Bolts defense have been tested at the quarterback position for the first two weeks of the season. They expect much of the same on Sunday.

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has started the season with two impressive games in which he looked improved after his rookie season. Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill talked about Lawrence and how he seems to be "coming into his own" thus far.

"Obviously, a different scheme [this season]. I think they're highlighting his strengths," Hill said. "He's a guy that if you spread it out and let him go through his progressions, he can make all the throws, he can use his legs, so he's a dangerous guy. We have our hands full this week."

Having already faced a mobile quarterback in Week 2, Hill knows that the danger that presents to his defense, but added that the improvement is obvious with Lawrence.

"It seems like that's going to be a common thing throughout the year," Hill said. "I mean you have [Chiefs QB] Patrick Mahomes one week, and now you have another big, athletic, strong quarterback that's coming in here this week."

"He's doing a terrific job with that group over there, and you saw him even make the jump from Week 1 to Week 2. The improvement is there with this guy and he's playing really good ball," Hill added.

Chargers safety Derwin James, Jr., also talked about the second-year quarterback and the difference between Lawrence his rookie year and this year.

"I feel like [Year 1 to Year 2], you can see a big difference in him," James said. "He's got a lot more confident, he's a lot better. He's getting the ball to [wide receiver Christian Kirk] and those guys and we gotta be ready for him."

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