Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco met with beat writers Monday in advance of the 2022 season.
Here are five takeaways from Telesco:
1. Playing the waiting game
Telesco summed up the mindset of everyone around the NFL on Monday afternoon.
"I'm looking forward to playing a real game, there's no doubt about that," said Telesco, who is entering his 10th season in his role.
He also expanded on what the mindset of a general manager is during this point of the calendar year.
Telesco said that he's looking forward to seeing how the Bolts perform early in the season, noting that he can usually get a gauge on a roster in the first month or so.
"You don't know how it's going to look," Telesco said. "And I hate hearing 'that teams look good on paper.' So, you don't really know until you get into late September where you really are.
"But the roster is never set. You're constantly either thinking about it or moving things around … that's constantly going on," Telesco added. "The rest of it is kind of running the ship and making sure it's going straight ahead. You don't really know what you have until you start playing."
As far as external pressure goes, Telesco said the NFL is a results-driven business and that he focuses on the same approach each autumn.
"As far as that, every year is a different year and every year, the expectations are the same. It's a pressurized job no matter what. That's just the way it is. I wouldn't call it any extra this year, I mean I want to win every single year. It's not like there's any year where I was like 'We had a decent team but if you don't make it no big deal'. We're in this to win, it's how we keep our jobs."
2. A new-look defense
The Chargers have plenty of big-names on defense.
Some of them are returning players (Joey Bosa and Derwin James, Jr.), while others such as Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson and Sebastian Joseph-Day are new to the Bolts.
Count Telesco among the people who are interested to see how that unit fares in Week 1 against the Raiders.
"We've got a lot of new faces on defense," Telesco said. "They're practiced together but haven't played together yet. On offense, there's not really a lot of changes, a little more known quantity there.
"But defense, yeah, the communication part of it, especially on the back end, is really important," Telesco added. "Derwin has only had a couple weeks of practice, so that stuff still has to come together in the regular season."
The Chargers signed James to a multi-year contract extension in mid-August, and he'll be relied upon as the quarterback of the defense in his fifth season.
3. Praise for Pipkins, Norton
The battle at right tackle betweem Trey Pipkins II and Storm Norton was decided last week, as Pipkins will be the starter to open the season.
Telesco had plenty of praise for both players, and noted that Pipkins' has had tangible progression in recent years.
Pipkins has started eight games over three seasons, including two during the 2021 season.
"Last year when he played, he played well, so that was encouraging," Telesco said. "He played well in those games, played well in the back end of the preseason last year. He's continued to get better.
"And it's helpful for us that we've still got Storm here. It wasn't like whoever didn't win that job was going to be voted off the island and never coming back," Telesco added. "Typically, you'll need a third tackle. A swing tackle. They're extremely hard to find. It's almost like a starting spot. You can draft him early, and even though he may not start, you may need that guy usually."
Norton started 15 total games a season ago, and has made 18 starts in his career.
"Really important that we have those two guys," Telesco said. "Nice that Storm has a body of work and experience because it's tough and dependable.
"Trey has done a good job so far, so we'll see how that rolls," Telesco added. "I'm proud of Trey to come in and win the job and see how far he can take it."
4. Beefing up the backfield
The Bolts gained depth and experience in their backfield last week with the addition of Sony Michel.
The two-time Super Bowl winner said he's going to work for whatever role he earns this season, a sentiment echoed by Telesco.
The Chargers GM said Michel's skillset will be necessary over the full season. Plus, keeping Larry Rountree III on the practice squad is a boon for the Bolts, too.
"Late in the game, you can certainly trust him," Telesco said of Michel. "But you can trust Austin Ekeler and other guys, too.
"He's just a solid, well-rounded back," Telesco added. "And it's better that we didn't lose Larry, because we still think he's got some future here. Just makes it a much stronger group."
5. Murray's role in 2022
Telesco also offered some insight on linebacker Kenneth Murray, Jr., who began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list due to an ankle injury.
But the linebacker has been back at practice since August 22, with Telesco noting that the former first-round pick could be back in a more traditional spot this season.
"Probably more traditional linebacker than putting him out on the edge like we did [last season]," Telesco said. "He's looked really good. For a guy who missed so much camp, I mean he should look fresh because he didn't work at camp as much.
"But he looks fast, physical and moving around really well so that's a positive," Telesco added "He's got to catch up a little bit but we're hoping he does relatively quick."
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