Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day and left tackle Rashawn Slater's media availability before practice on Wednesday:
Samuel, Murray receive praise from Staley
After facing back-to-back AFC West rivals the first two weeks of the 2022 season, the Bolts now turn their focus to the AFC South as they prepare to face the Jacksonville Jaguars back at home for Week 3.
During Wednesday's press conference, Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley highlighted two young defenders that he is pleased with through the first two weeks of the season — Asante Samuel, Jr., and Kenneth Murray.
Samuel intercepted Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr in an incredible fashion in route to a Week 1 victory, and then had an interception overturned by officials against the Chiefs. Samuel nearly intercepted Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the end zone later in the game.
Staley explained the confidence he has seen Samuel play with and why he feels he is playing at a "high level" after two games.
"I'm really excited about Asante Samuel, Jr. I feel like he's playing at a high level, very much improved as a player," Staley said. "He's playing with a lot of confidence. To earn confidence, he has been around the ball. He's had to cover a lot of good players, a lot of tough downs the first two weeks, but he's impacted the game and that's the best thing you can say about a corner is that he's making a lot of plays and he's not giving very many up."
"I think he has improved in all ways…" Staley added. "He's just at the beginning. He has to make sure that he continues to work. That's part of why we love him. He's a gym rat. He'll continue to improve because he puts a lot into it."
Another member of the defense Staley highlighted was Murray, a third-year linebacker who is returning to form after battling through injuries in 2021. Murray battled back from injury during the offseason and was able to return to practice towards the end of training camp. Staley also sees the improvements Murray has made this season.
"We're really pleased with his progress," Staley said. "I think not having a spring, not having most of training camp, for him to perform like he has the first two games, we're optimistic about his progress. He just needs to stay at it.
"He's seeing the game," Staley added. "I think he's playing physical at the point of attack. I think he's finishing plays. I think that his communication has really improved. That's what he has to do, he just has to stay after it, stay on that practice field, stay in that meeting room, and you'll continue to see the improvement because it means a lot to him. I think you'll continue to see even more as we go."
Scouting 'complete' Jacksonville defense
In Jacksonville's Week 2 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, the Jaguars defense held the Colts offense scoreless and allowed just 218 total yards in route to a 24-0 win.
Staley noted the talent the Jaguars have on defense that they have added this season and the familiarity he has with their pass rushers and former Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darious Williams. Staley also detailed what he saw from the Jaguars defense in their shutout performance in Week 2.
"They just played team defense" Staley said. "They did a really good job against the back. Everyone knows what a good back [Colts RB Jonathan] Taylor is. They did a really good job against the back. Then, they really rushed the passer, created three takeaways. Really controlled the game from the beginning to the end.
"You don't shut a team out in this league without playing a complete game," Staley added. "All three levels of your defense — run game, pass game, rushing the passer, and then getting the takeaways. They were able to do that from the first snap to the last one. It was a very impressive performance."
In his second season, Chargers left tackle Rashawn Slater has picked up right where he left off after a standout rookie year. Through the first two weeks of the 2022 season Slater has allowed zero sacks in 142 snaps played, according to Pro Football Focus.
This week Slater will face another talented edge rusher group that features the outside linebacker duo of Josh Allen and Travon Walker, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Slater talked about preparing for Allen and what he'll have to do in order to have success against him Sunday.
"I think he looks really good," Slater said of Allen. "He's a really fluid mover. He's able to do a lot of different stuff, he's got a big toolbox, he's got power too. It's not normal for someone to be really fluid like that and have power.
"I think he's a really good player, we just have to be on our toes," Slater added. "Have good technique and be ready because they have a really good duo."
Check out the best photos of the Chargers first Week 3 practice on Wednesday at Hoag Performance Center.
'Get our bodies right, get healthy'
After playing their first two games in just five days, the Bolts got some well-deserved rest over the weekend following their Thursday night matchup in Kansas City. The off time or, 'mini bye week' gave the Bolts the chance to not only recover, but also refocus heading into Week 3.
Chargers defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day talked about what the extra time off allowed himself and the entire team do.
"Get our bodies right, get healthy and just reset and refocus and see what we did well," Joseph-Day said. "[Look at] what we didn't do well, stuff like that. Just better ourselves as a team."
Slater also explained the benefit of the added rest days, especially with starting right tackle Trey Pipkins III and center Corey Linsley both recovering from injuries from Thursday night's game.
"It really gives you the opportunity to heal up and thankfully, I think we needed that after that game," Slater said. "Guys got a little beat up, so it was good to have that time off and we'll be a lot healthier heading into game three because of it."
The off time proved to be useful for the Bolts as wide receiver Keenan Allen, Pipkins and tight end Donald Parham returned to the practice field on Wednesday.
The Chargers now look to continue their success against the Jaguars as they look for their third straight win against Jacksonville. Back in 2019, the Bolts secured a big 45-10 win on the road and in 2020 took down the Jaguars 39-29 at SoFi Stadium.
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