The long wait is almost over.
We are only days away from the official start of Chargers Camp as the Bolts hit the field for the first time Sunday morning. Since teams can only begin practicing two weeks before their first preseason game, the Chargers are one of the final teams to kick off training camp.
The wait has been particularly long for General Manager Tom Telesco, who can't wait to finally get back to football.
"Like everyone, I'm just excited to get going again," he said from his office at the Hoag Performance Center. "The offseason is just so long, and we open training camp later because we have a late preseason start. So we're excited to just get going. The atmosphere from what I've seen at Jack Hammett is going to be really exciting for our fans. They are really going to enjoy the vantage point they can watch practice from, how they can interact with our players and the other experiences that are for them."
While the Bolts' first practice at Jack Hammett is Sunday, the entire team is required to report by Saturday morning. One of the players who will be top of mind is first-round pick Mike Williams, who missed most of the offseason program with mild disc herniation in his lower back.
"Mike is definitely feeling better," Telesco said. "Right now, he's rehabbing and strengthening (it). He'll see the doctors again this weekend, and we'll get a better feel for a timetable then."
Another player who'll be welcomed into the fold is QB Cardale Jones, who was acquired from the Buffalo Bills late Wednesday afternoon. Telesco shared insight into why the Bolts decided to pull the trigger on the second-year quarterback out of Ohio State.
"Our scouts had really high grades on Cardale when he came out for the draft. When you combine that with the fact that Anthony Lynn had him for a year in Buffalo, he obviously knew him very well. He knew him from the neck up working with him on a day-to-day basis. When you combine those two things together, we felt that it made sense for us to bring Cardale in. He's a young quarterback who has some projectable traits. It made sense to get him into our system, and we're looking forward to watching him work and develop."
While Telesco obviously kept a keen eye on the roster throughout the offseason program, he explained how it's a whole new ballgame when training camp rolls around. The biggest difference arrives when the pads come on.
"It's a huge difference," the GM said. "The offseason program is definitely important, but it's more about individual development and teaching. OTAs aren't where you (determine) who'll win jobs, but training camp is. It's all about competition, winning a job and earning a role. Now when we actually put the pads on, we can do some true evaluations of position groups. Plus, training camp is where you start building your team. It's where you develop that camaraderie. It's a grind every day for the players, but that's where you build that brotherhood of guys you know you can rely on when you get into the season."
Once the final preseason game is complete, the Bolts will have 48 hours to whittle the roster down from 90 to 53. That remains over a month away, yet everyone approaches the process of determining a roster differently.
For Telesco, it's about having a blank slate.
The general manager enters his fifth year with the Bolts and 23rd season in the NFL knowing it's important to begin training camp without any preconceived notions.
"We watch every practice. We watch every preseason game. As we get closer to cut downs, you start in your head to look at the numbers. You look at who is practicing well. But I've heard this before, and it's the way it will be here, that the best 53 players may not make this team. But, the 53 players that best fit what we do will. That's what training camp is for. We'll see how each player fits into what we want to do here. So I don't go into training camp with any preconceived notions of where guys should be on the depth chart at all. I let things work themselves out in training camp. That's what training camp is for."