The Chargers wrapped up their two-day minicamp Wednesday at Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa.
After a short five-week summer break, the team will be back in Orange County for 2021 training camp in late July. Here are three takeaways from the last day of offseason media availability.
Drew Brees in the Building
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees was at the team's facility on Wednesday for minicamp. Brees spent his first five NFL seasons with the Chargers before a 15-year career with New Orleans Saints that included 12 Pro Bowl selections and a victory in Super Bowl XLIV.
Legendary broadcaster Al Michaels was also at Wednesday's practice.
"You got two titans in the NFL profession," head coach Brandon Staley said. "One of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play and then certainly an iconic media figure. Two guys that have really helped shape the NFL."
Staley said Brees was someone he looked up to as a fellow quarterback growing up, but gained an even greater appreciation for Brees when he went down to New Orleans in 2009 and saw how he operated up close.
Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi was with Brees in New Orleans for 12 seasons, including 10 as the quarterbacks coach. Justin Herbert said that Brees sat through meetings, shared advice and talked about an offense that the second-year quarterback is learning this offseason.
"Seeing defenses is one of the biggest things," Herbert said when asked about the advice Brees shared, "and going through these practices and making mistakes, and making the wrong MIKE [middle linebacker] I.D. and flipping a protection when you shouldn't have and going through that and learning through the process.
"If you're scared and you're not going to make these MIKE points, you're not going to get any better and you have to go out and kind of force yourself to be uncomfortable in these situations so you can learn. That's just one of those things that we touched on and I found that pretty smart on his behalf."
Check out the best photos from the second and final day of Chargers Minicamp at the Hoag Performance Center
In Week 5 of last season, Herbert threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns on "Monday Night Football" in the Superdome. The Saints won 30-27 in a game where Brees had 325 passing yards.
Chase Daniel, whom the Chargers signed this offseason, also spent time in the Saints' quarterbacks room with Brees. Tight end Jared Cook caught 12 touchdown passes from Brees over the last two seasons in New Orleans.
Brees officially joined NBC Sports in March and will be a studio analyst for Football Night in America, as well as an analyst for Notre Dame football games in the fall.
"He's a guy that I'm going to reach out to continuously to keep checking on and see if there's anything that I can learn from him," Herbert said of Brees.
Joey Bosa Adjusting to New Defense
Entering his sixth season, one of the best edge rushers in the NFL will be learning a new defensive system.
Joey Bosa, who turns 26 next month, said the last two days have been an adjustment, but that he's "confident" in both the process and the coaches as he learns his responsibilities.
"My job is to get the quarterback first and foremost," Bosa said. "I'm going to be dropping more this year, obviously, in this scheme, but it's something that I feel comfortable in. It'll just take some time getting used to the play calls and understanding that aspect of it. Whatever my role is, I feel confident that they're going to put me in a great position. They know what they're doing."
Without going into detail, Bosa said the new defense is "about putting the best players in a good position and trying to get one-on-ones. It's about trying to exploit the offense."
In a 2020 season where he battled multiple injuries, Bosa recorded 7.5 sacks, 27 quarterback hits and 15 tackles for loss.
During the roughly five weeks between now and training camp, Bosa said he'll continue to dive into the new D. According to Bosa, run game coordinator/outside linebackers coach Jay Rodgers records his voice over the defensive plays. It enhances the way the Pro Bowl edge rusher studies...and relaxes.
"So, I'll just do my mediation with his voice telling me the plays in my ear every night before I sleep," Bosa joked.
Closing Minicamp 'Thankful'
When asked what he told his players before they take the next five weeks off, Staley led with appreciation.
"I was just really thankful," Staley said. "I'm thankful for the guys. I really appreciated their performance in this offseason program. I really thought that we showed that we're a team. Any time that you're joining up with new people, that's a process to earn their trust. You can respect somebody before you trust them. What really goes into our program is relationships and competition.
"In a relationship, it's a lot easier to respect someone from afar. I didn't know [WR] Keenan Allen, but, man, I respected his game from afar. It's a far different thing to trust one another. That took some time. We certainly proved that this offseason, as you guys are aware."
Staley has taken the necessary steps to build that trust with his players. One of them is running back Austin Ekeler, who also used the word "thankful" when describing his head coach's willingness to listen to the team's veterans when mapping out the offseason.
Ekeler said his first conversation with Staley was a couple of days after he was hired — and it wasn't about football.
"He called me and just wanted to talk about just life," Ekeler said, "and I thought that was really special, just because getting to know someone and getting to see their values really helps me connect and helps everyone really connect as far as wanting to play for this person and actually care about what they're saying."
"I think that the more you know one another, the more you can accomplish," Staley said. "When there's a foundation and a relationship, you know exactly how one another operates. If you operate under the premise that we're all different — like, I can't coach Austin the same way that I coach [CB] Chris [Harris Jr.], because they're different people. The only way that I would know that is if I really dive into them. It takes a lot of time and investment to do that, but that's why they call it an investment. You invest in someone for a return later on."
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