Below are three takeaways from podium sessions after Friday's practice:
Herbert talks Week 1 and flipping the switch
The Chargers are putting the finishing touches on preparations ahead of their Week 1 matchup with the Raiders.
Quarterback Justin Herbert did not play in the preseason, but will soon take the field as he begins his third year in the NFL.
"It's exciting," Herbert said about Week 1. "We've spent a lot of time this offseason getting prepared for this week and we're going to do everything we can to work on a good protection plan, timing with the receivers. It's exciting to finally be back at it."
The first two games on the schedule for the Bolts will be matchups against the AFC West (Raiders and Chiefs), something Herbert adds is important due to how competitive many expect the division to be.
"I think the division games are always super important, especially with the division that we're in," said Herbert. "We think really highly of the opponents in our division, and they mean a lot to us.
"And so, week-in, week-out, we're going to have to do our best, put our best effort out there, but it's a great challenge and an exciting opportunity," Herbert added.
The Bolts will be challenged from the jump and having not seen any game action in about eight months, Herbert has done his best to get ready to flip the switch once game time comes.
"I do my best to take practice reps, and when we're in the film room, to take all of those reps like it's a game," said Herbert. "There are definitely times to turn that off when you're home or when you're eating lunch but being in that mode and being prepared heading into Sunday is what gives us our best advantage."
"I try not to turn it off. I need to be dialed in as long as I can, studying and preparing as best as I can, so that I have any chance on Sunday," he added.
Check out the best photos from the Chargers Friday practice at Hoag Performance Center.
Mack 'looking forward' to return to game action
It's a new look team, mainly on defense, and Sunday will be the first time that we'll get the first look of some players in the powder blue.
One of those players, outside linebacker Khalil Mack, is not only making his first start with the Bolts, but also making a return to the field after missing more than half of the 2021 season.
"It's been a while since I've been able to play football," said Mack. "I think it got cut short around Week 7 last year. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun.
"I feel great. The best I've felt in a long time to start a season. Looking forward to taking advantage of it," added Mack on how he feels physically.
Mack's bond with fellow outside linebacker Joey Bosa has been a topic throughout the offseason, as the two go back and forth talking about various aspects of the game.
"It's been one of the brighter points of this whole process, just understanding and being able to talk ball with Joey," said Mack. "Definitely bounced a lot of ideas off of each other and I kind of see the progress we both have made along this training camp and coming into the season."
"It's going to be fun to see on Sunday," added Mack.
With most of the starters not seeing playing time together during the preseason, Mack acknowledged that as much preparation the team can do in practice, they won't get the full experience until they step onto the field and he's excited to see how the players perform out there.
"Everything heightens," said Mack. "The nerves go up a little bit but it's all the same. I'm just looking forward to seeing the guys go out there and have fun and balling just like it is practice."
Staley prepares for second year
Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley enters his second year at the helm for the Bolts this season.
After his first full offseason, Staley has felt more confident coming into this year compared to his first, and a lot of it is simply settling in more with the team.
"I think any time that you get to do something more, you get better at it. That's how I feel," said Staley. "I feel that every single day I'm improving, and that's all any competitor can hope for."
"I love the people that I'm competing with. I think, like I've said, from the top down, from our ownership, the personnel department, our coaches, our players, our staff," he added.
Gaining more familiarity with every aspect of the team has made Staley more comfortable — something that he has mentioned before during training camp. Not only Staley, but another year with the team is something he believes has grown the bond within and he is ready to go and show it.
"I think that we have a team that believes in each other," said Staley. "Now, it's time to go prove ourselves and compete on Sunday. We're excited."
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