Wednesday marked the last solo open practice of the week before the New Orleans Saints come to town. Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley spoke with the media and shared his thoughts on what needs to improve, the competition at middle linebacker and the joint practices with the New Orleans Saints.
Corrections for the Defense
After falling 48-17 to the Seattle Seahawks, much work needed to be done with the second and third defensive units. Bradley admitted he figured it would take some time for the team to gel and get a feel for working together, and they aimed to iron out those kinks. Overall, the DC feels confident in how his group has responded this week:
*"We have a lot of work to do. I thought our first group played pretty good. They got about 10 plays in the first game. And then after that, we had some issues with our second and third groups. (With the) environment and the hype of it, we didn't play like we were capable of. It's been a big point of emphasis the last couple days in practice…It's a very focused group; attacking the things and weaknesses in that first game like we should…. I didn't think our energy was real good in the game. It wasn't like we anticipated, and they agreed. We showed multiple times plays being made and not a lot of enthusiasm." *
With Denzel Perryman sidelined by surgery, there is intense competition at the middle linebacker spot. Bradley detailed that competition, noting the strengths that Nick Dzubnar and Korey Toomer bring inside.
"(Middle linebackers) have to get able to get the call, communicate the call and get us lined up. Once you kind of get all that stuff completed, (they need to) get back to what they need to do on that play. There's a lot on that Mike linebacker's plate. A lot. We have to look at that and see who steps up… You're looking for a guy to take charge…. Nick is a very strong leader. He gets up, makes the call, gets everybody lined up and makes the play. (He's) rarely out of position. Korey is very athletic. He's a very athletic linebacker (who can) get off blocks and get to the ball. It's just the pre-snap process that we're working on with him. Both have some things we need to work on, but they have some traits we're excited about."
Verrett's Availability for Sunday
Jason Verrett has been a full go in practice but has yet to see game-action. Bradley said it will be up to the trainers to determine if number 22 can go this week. But while he has the physical-readiness, it's the mental part that he feels Verrett needs to get comfortable with in his first game back from injury.
"He'll get more and more reps. I think these next couple days will be big (in) our decision (with) what to do on Sunday. The physical stuff, you're seeing; you're seeing the speed. (But it's) mentally; just getting out there and playing….There's a mental part of it. But just talking to him and seeing him compete, it seems like that will (come) in a short period of time."
Thursday marks the first joint practice between the Chargers and Saints. Although teams don't game-plan for the preseason, these joint scrimmages will be great tests for the Bolts' defense and what they'll see come Sunday's game.
"It's very good. I think the Rams and Seattle (have) different schemes. They're similar in some things they do, but completely different in what we see offensively (compared to) our team. New Orleans (has) another great quarterback that we're going against. So, when you talk about trying to mature as a defense and you're going against Russell (Wilson), Drew (Brees) and Philip (Rivers) every day, it's really a great environment for that."