Here are three takeaways from Thursday's press conference with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, left tackle Rashawn Slater and defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill:
Rashawn Slater's battle tested and ready to matchup against Chase Young
As offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi put it, Rashawn Slater has 'drawn a tough hand' in his first NFL matchup. But just because he's going up against the defending defensive rookie of the year in Chase Young, that doesn't mean the rookie isn't excited for Week 1. During Thursday's press conference, Slater talked about how he's feeling heading into his first NFL regular season start.
"Definitely really excited," Slater said. "You know thankfully we had the preseason so I kind of feel like that first almost scrimmage at SoFi and then also playing against the Rams really kind of helped me get that anxiety of playing in a stadium for the first time out of the way. So right now I'm just excited, ready for the season to finally start and kind of to see what this team's gonna do."
Veteran linemen, Bryan Bulaga and Corey Linsley have been a huge help in getting Slater ready for Sunday's 'game within the game' according to the rookie. To go along with that, Slater has OLB Joey Bosa coaching him up from the perspective of a pass rusher.
"It was amazing, definitely very beneficial for me," he said. "Just because obviously he's one of the best, if not the best at rushing the passer so being able to get that experience definitely helps me relax and just know that I've already done that. You know, if I can win against him, then I can win against everyone, so it's been huge for me."
While Slater realizes the success he's had going against Young back in their college days when Northwestern would face Ohio State, Slater knows that they are both different players since college.
"He's taken big steps since he's been in the NFL," he said. "So, he's definitely a more refined player than what I saw in college. So, I'm excited to go and do that again, it's really cool to have that matchup, someone I've gone against in the past as my first game."
Slater explained there have been 'a lot of highs' for the o-line going against the Chargers' defense all camp and is really excited to go out there on Sunday against an actual opponent.
Lombardi excited about Herbert going into year two, confident in offensive line
Following an impressive rookie campaign, Justin Herbert has a big season ahead of him. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi talked about how No. 10 has progressed heading into year two.
"After watching that rookie year, you had such high opinions and high expectations and he's met and exceeded them all," Lombardi said. "You know, with anything new there's going to be some growing pains, I'm sure. You know he's not a guy that makes the same mistake twice, he learns. Like if he makes a bad read, he learns the second time. I think he's outstanding right now, and I just think that every game he's gonna get better."
A key piece of the puzzle to a successful sophomore campaign for Herbert will be the performance of the Bolts' offensive line. Lombardi expressed he's confident in the group's ability to come together as a unit. Lombardi specifically spoke highly about the growth of his rookie left tackle.
"I think it's been a steady ascension," he said. "I think he impressed from day one, you could see right away the talent that made him the pick that he was. Just the way he approaches his game, you know we get a number of guys like this that have really great talent and then a great approach to their profession I think he's seasoned beyond his years."
For Lombardi, his advice to Slater would be to get used to these big moments in the NFL. Lombardi explained, "as a pro every game, every play you've got something to prove."
Washington will be great test for the Bolts' defensive scheme
As Renaldo Hill enters his first season as defensive coordinator for the Chargers, he knows facing Ryan Fitzpatrick Week 1 will be a great test for the defensive scheme. In order to slow a veteran quarterback like Fitzpatrick down Hill said "we just have to be sound in our assignments."
"You know Week One you don't have that foundation you build with three or four games. Like I said, we just have to play our rules, play our responsibility and communication is gonna be key. Just [make sure] everybody is talking and making sure everyone's on the same page."
Just like Herbert, linebacker Kenneth Murray has a great opportunity to grow in his second season in the NFL. Hill gave high praise to Murray's work ethic during camp.
"He's worked extremely hard," he said. "We talked about him playing downhill and being a 'backer and being able to run down sideline to sideline. He has all those traits and I'm excited to watch him do it this weekend."
Hill's confidence in the linebacker room was shown throughout his time at the podium. He knows his trio of linebackers in K9, Drue Tranquil and Kyzir White are going to get the job done, no matter who's on the field.
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