The Chargers had a lot of memorable moments from their 20-16 victory in Washington, from offensive tackle Rashawn Slater's performance in his NFL debut to wide receiver Mike Williams' eventual game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Here are three takeaways from Monday's press conference with head coach Brandon Staley, Williams and safety Derwin James:
Derwin James talks return to the gridiron, game ball from Staley
As a playmaker and a leader on the field, the Chargers' defense couldn't be happier to have safety Derwin James back. After missing the 2020 season following a knee injury, James made his return to the field in Washington. James spoke on Monday about how he felt in his return to live action for the first time in over a year.
"Of course, it'll take those games to get my wind all the way back up," James said. "I didn't play in preseason, and I haven't been out there as much, but I felt good. Being in my first game back felt like how I feel in practice. I put myself through the same stuff in practice. When I went out there, I felt the exact same. I was able to finish in the fourth quarter."
James, who was on the field for all 55 snaps and recorded seven tackles on Sunday for the Bolts' defense, wasted no time in making his presence felt. After the win, Staley handed him one of the game balls citing the team's elevated record when James is on the field.
"That was an unbelievable moment for me man, you know I'm very thankful for it, man," he said. "It's been a lot of hard work and just dedication put into it so you know, just to see it pay off it in Week 1 you know it's only up from here. So, you know I just wanna keep coming out and get better."
Rashawn Slater's strong showing in regular-season NFL debut
Before Rashawn Slater and Chase Young's rematch in the NFL, Chargers' offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi explained that the rookie left tackle is "seasoned beyond his years."
Slater proved that and more during Sunday's win in Washington. Faced with blocking the defensive rookie of the year from last season, Slater allowed an incredible zero pressures- per Pro Football Focus- and was on the field for all 81 of the snaps on offense.
During Monday's media availability, Staley discussed Slater's ability to get the job done in Washington.
"The guy that you know everybody was wondering about coming into the game was our rookie left tackle [Rashawn Slater]," Staley said. "And he was outstanding in this game, when you don't talk about him a lot that means he probably performed at a high level and that's what the film told us. He was outstanding, I'm really proud of him, not surprised but really proud of him and I felt like Rashawn was really good in this football game."
Staley explained that just like with any position, for an offensive tackle it's key to get off to a good start to put yourself in a good rhythm and "create confidence the rest of the way." Staley went on to talk about the characteristics Slater has that allowed the rookie to have success against his opponents.
"He's got outstanding movement for the position," he said. "He can really unlock power from the ground, he can create a lot of power from the ground, and he's got very strong hands. If he's in a disadvantaged position he can fix it sometimes where a lot of people can't because he's got that lower body movement and power."
The Chargers' O-line provided a clean pocket for Justin Herbert and held firm on many third-down conversions. The Bolts' offense allowed a pressure rate of just 12 percent on the day, an NFL low for Week 1 according to PFF.
Mike Williams feeling comfortable in Bolts' offense
Another Bolts' player who performed well in Sunday's contest was wide receiver, Mike Williams. Williams who was targeted 12 times ended the day with eight catches for 82-yards, and the go-ahead touchdown in the 4th quarter.
On Monday, Williams talked about his comfort level against Washington and the level of excitement his role in this offense brings.
"I was really comfortable," Williams said. "Me and [Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi] talked after the game, he was like, 'In this offense, the ball is going to find the X [receiver].' I was like, 'I appreciate you. It can't happen at a better time.' I'm excited about it and I'm looking forward to every opportunity. I'm ready for it. I'm looking forward to coming out this week, prepare and get ready for this game on Sunday."
Despite 12 targets going Williams' way, Herbert was able to distribute the ball across the Chargers' offensive weapons. Williams explained how spreading the ball around is a huge part of what this offense is about.
"I feel like it's more so getting others involved in the offense a lot more," he said. "Not too much putting it around one person; we're using all of the talents that we have available. I feel like that's what makes this offense move. It's not mostly about who the players are. It's about getting everybody the ball while spreading it out and making the defenders defend everything."
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