If there's a phrase for what the time period after the "dog days" of camp is, that's where the Bolts are now.
But the last two days of 2021's Chargers Camp will provide a spark, as the team finishes its slate with a pair of joint practices against the San Francisco 49ers.
"To go against a team like the 49ers, they're a good team, they were in the Super Bowl two years ago, so they know what it takes," outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu said. "To be able to get some experience from them and go up against guys like that, it's only gonna make us a better football team and we can't wait for the opportunity."
Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has been on the other side of the joint practices at Jack Hammett Sports Complex when he came out west with the New Orleans Saints a couple years ago.
Having been part of the environment before, he discussed the importance these "invaluable" practices play.
"You get used to looking at the same defense and the same players, you learn tendencies and you learn how guys play against each other," Lombardi said. "So getting some fresh looks in here, some different looks, it's a different structure than what we're looking at every day, and seeing our guys go up against a different set of defenders in one-on-one drills, team drills, and 7-on-7, I think it gives you a good barometer of where you are. And it's gonna force us to look at a different structure and learn how to identify that and attack that. I think it's extremely valuable both in getting your team ready to play and also some evaluations of players."
Defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill echoed Lombardi's sentiments.
"I think when you get another team in it, it allows you not to be casual at any point because they have something to prove, we have something to prove, and we want to get better as a unit," Hill said. "We're going up against a good ball club, and I think it's gonna force our hand, it's gonna force their hand a little bit. Everybody's gonna wanna play at their highest level going up against another ball club."
Some coaches and players believe they can glean more from joint practices than preseason games, especially with veterans who won't see the field in the three-game exhibition slate.
Hill further explained the value these practices have.
"You've been battling with your guys every day, day in and day out, and now you get a chance to go against some different guys with some different skillsets," he said. "You get a chance to work your moves and do different things that maybe your guys aren't used to, so it doesn't show as much. I think that those guys will be really excited to bring their tools out against the 49ers."
ODDS & ENDS
Nwosu discussed head coach Brandon Staley and how he caters the defense to the personnel: "He gives us different opportunities to win as a whole team. With the different looks, you know it questions the offense. You have to think a little more. We are not just going to line up and go, so it gives us an advantage of being one step ahead of our opponent. For me, personally, it has allowed for me to be who I am, which is an athlete. I have been able to rush the passer, drop in coverage, switch it up, do what I do best."
Lombardi spoke of rookie RB Larry Rountree III's performance against the Rams: "He's a guy that had a lot of high expectations going into that game. When we're out in practice, when it isn't 'full go' and we're not tackling, you can't always know how that run finished in real life. I was so excited to see how he would do in that first preseason game. I expected that yards after contact would be coming — and they sure did. It was kind of what I was hoping for and kind of what I expected. There were high expectations, so I was very pleased with what he did in the game."
Hill spoke on another player who flashed in the first preseason game, CB John Brannon: "We talk about opportunities and he's making the best of them. Every ball, it seems like, that has come in his direction, he's made a play on. He's doing that part of creating takeaways. We put a huge emphasis on getting the ball back to our offense. He's been doing that for us. We just want to continue to do to that throughout the rest of the preseason games and in practice, but he's doing the right things."
The Future is Here!
Secure your 2021 Season Ticket Memberships for only $100. Click here to learn more.