With all the storylines heading into Sunday's home opener at SoFi Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys, here are three takeaways from Thursday's press conference. Joey Bosa, Joe Lombardi and Renaldo Hill talked about their plan of attack against Dallas, Bosa facing an old college friend, and the unique skill set that has allowed Kenan Allen and Justin Herbert to work so well together.
Sunday's game a "dream" for the former Buckeyes
From 2013-2015, the Ohio State Buckeyes roster was full of NFL-ready talent. Amongst that group of talented young athletes was Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott. Not only did Bosa and Elliott play on the same college team, but they also lived together in the dorms on the Ohio State campus.
This Sunday, the two get a chance to face off in the NFL for the first time in their careers, as Elliott didn't play when the Chargers and Cowboys last met in 2017. Bosa remembers the pair 'had some serious collisions' in practices in Columbus and on Thursday, he talked about what it means to face Elliott in pros.
"It'll be awesome," Bosa said. "Last time we played against each other was in practice [at Ohio State] and we didn't take it easy on each other then, so I'm sure we won't this weekend. It'll just be good to see him, I saw him this offseason and it was good to reconnect, and he's obviously done an amazing job."
While Elliott and Bosa were busy tearing up the field at Ohio State at their respective positions, they also tore up something else, their dorm room. When it comes to the messier roommate between the two, Bosa explained they both excelled in that.
"I remember stepping over boxes like this," Bosa said, as he reenacted stepping over a dirty dorm room floor from the podium. "To get to my couch and being like, 'Yeah whatever, I'll figure that out later.' Luckily that's changed over the years so no more pizza boxes and everything laying around."
Bosa explained that back in their college days it was never about being the highest paid player at their respective positions in the NFL for him and Elliott. For Bosa, it was more about the way they 'carried themselves' at Ohio State that got them where they are today.
"It's what we dream about," he said. "Thinking ahead, 'Yeah maybe I can do this if I keep working hard.' I mean step one was just to make it to the NFL, for all this to happen is unbelievable, it is a dream come true."
Chargers' plan on defense against Dallas
For defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill, the key for his defense to improve each week is just to play 'sound football' against whatever opponent they face. Hill detailed how the Chargers' defense can slow the Cowboy's offense down, starting with the run game.
This week, the Chargers will face their second-straight NFC East opponent and Hill detailed how the Chargers' defense can slow the Cowboy's offense down.
"We'll expect them to try to get the run game going," Hill said. "That's their guy [Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott]. We know once the run game is going for them, everything else opens up. Even though they had a big day passing [against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers], I think it opens up more variables for those guys. We expect them to get the run game going and use their big back, back there.
"We want to make these quarterbacks have to search the defense out. Try to search the coverage out. We can do that. We think it'll make our jobs easier in the back end. That's the biggest thing for us, not trying to give up the explosiveness, explosive plays. Keeping the roof over our defense. We're constantly working on that. We know they have the weapons out there and we just have to do a good job this week early on. Continue to move the downs around."
Lombardi explains the 'instincts' Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen have together
Before the season started, Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi talked about the quick connection that wide receiver Keenan Allen and quarterback Justin Herbert developed. On Thursday, Lombardi discussed how he saw their unique connection play out in real time against Washington.
"He's going to do the right thing almost always," Lombardi said of Allen. "And it's probably going to be better than what we would have coached him to do. Let him go work. I just tell Justin, 'Listen, you're in control of him. If he does something that you don't like that you can't anticipate, you need to let me know and then we'll go from there.' Justin's like, 'No, that's exactly what I would have done. I liked it. I could anticipate it.' That's a hard thing to develop if they don't have those instincts and feel for each other."
For Lombardi, he took note of Allen's elite instincts even before he was a member of the Chargers' coaching staff.
"Early on, even before I got here, I could tell that this was a guy with great instincts," he said. "A lot of times, you'll say, 'Hey, listen, here's the concept of this route, you and [QB] Justin [Herbert] figure out how you guys want to run it.'
Those instincts and chemistry together allow the Chargers to have an almost coach-like player on the field in Allen. The two have a chance on Sunday to put those instincts on full display, this time in front of a home crowd at SoFi Stadium.
Check out the best photos from Chargers Thursday practice at Hoag Performance Center.
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