Here's a breakdown of the news from the Chargers' 13th week of the season:
Monday: Staying together in the fight of the season
On Monday, head coach Brandon Staley and defensive lineman Justin Jones spoke to the media after breaking down the film from their Week 12 game against the Denver Broncos. Staley talked about the importance of moving on from the emotion of the game against the Broncos and holding on to the lessons learned from the field, along with the importance of sticking together in the 'fight' of the season.
"We just want to be together," Staley said. "We want to know exactly what happened so that we can keep our head on straight, keep our composure and be better moving forward, because we're in a fight. It's been that type of season for us. It didn't matter if we started out 4-1 or not, we had to fight to be 4-1. That was a fight … What we have to do, as a team, is we have to keep figuring it out together. If your head is not on straight, you won't figure it out. We're going to try and stay connected and move on to Cincinnati the best that we can."
On Tuesday, the Chargers signed cornerback Davontae Harris, a familiar face for Staley who coached him in Denver, to the active roster from the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad. The move added depth to the Bolts' cornerback room that has been without Asante Samuel Jr. who remains in the concussion protocol.
"He has athleticism for the position," Staley said of Harris. "He has a pro body. He has real traits for a corner. He played in some games for us and really kind of saved us, bailed us out. We played up against those guys in the preseason, when he was in San Francisco, and we were able to get a live evaluation of him."
Wednesday: Playoff push
The month of December has four crucial games for the Bolts that will determine if they can solidify a spot in the playoffs this season. The Chargers' first opponent in December is a Cincinnati Bengals team that has won back-to-back games led by second year quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow and Justin Herbert were drafted in the same class and get a chance to go head-to-head for the first time in their young careers. Staley talked about what he's seen from both quarterbacks.
"They're both winners," Staley said of the QBs. "They're both franchise quarterbacks that you can go into any environment and win with. I think that's where they're similar. They both have that type of stuff where, I think, both teams feel like you can go into any game and feel like you're the team to beat. I think that's a good sign for both of them. I think they're two of the elite young players in the league."
Focusing on the Bengals offense, safety Derwin James talked about preparing for Cincinnati's rushing and passing attack. James talked about the focus of stopping running back Joe Mixon, who is coming off a big performance against the Steelers in Week 12.
"We have to stop their run," James said. "We know [Bengals HB] Joe Mixon is one of the top backs in the league. At contact, he knows what he is doing. We have to come out and be ready to stop the run. They are throwing to him, too. They are very balanced. They can run, they can pass. We just have to be ready to play our style of ball and get off the field."
Staley also gave updates on right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who was placed on injured reserve in mid-September.
"He's been out on the grass with our training staff and our performance staff," Staley said. "We're hopeful. I think we're right towards the end of, maybe, initiating that timeframe. I know that it means a lot to him. I've been really pleased with how he's attacked it. Hopefully, we'll get good news here soon."
Thursday: Ekeler's approach to football
With the Chargers playing the Bengals, a team currently two games ahead of the Bolts in the AFC Wild Card standings, Chargers running back Austin Ekeler talked about what it means to be in the playoff hunt at this point in the season.
"It gives you another reason to want to play even harder," Ekeler said. "Definitely being able to say that you're in the hunt still is a little extra sugar on top. The main goal is to try to get all the way to the end. We've been in situations where we were out of the hunt. We've been in situations where we are in the hunt and making it to the playoffs. It's just more things added to the plate where I feel very excited to come in and work with the guys. That's what it goes back to for me. The whole ecosystem really gets me fired up, especially when we have a chance to go to the playoffs. It's really special."
Ekeler, who has 14 total touchdowns on the season (seven rushing and seven receiving) and is having a career year, talked about how his mindset he established as a rookie has carried him to where he is now. Not just on the football field but everywhere in his life.
"I remember the mindset that I had was that everything relies on me going down here and making this tackle," Ekeler said. "My livelihood in this league depended on this right now. That was how I approached the game. That's how I approached my preparation. That's why I was able to have success because I put everything into it. It carried over to everything else that I'm doing, not just football. It carries over to life. If you want something and you have the opportunity to take a risk and go get it, I think to myself, 'Let's go.'"
Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill talked about what their respective groups need to improve on heading into December. Take a look at top quotes from Lombardi and Hill's press conferences.
Friday: Herbert vs. Burrow
The last time the Chargers played the Bengals was Week 1 of the 2020 season where the Bolts won, 16-13, when Herbert was the backup quarterback at the time. Herbert talked about getting the chance to face Burrow, who was drafted the same year as him.
"I think every opportunity that you get to play against a great quarterback like that is special," Herbert said. "But, it's about us and their defense. We have to go out and move the ball. We have to convert on third down. We have to do all these things so that we are able to put up points on Sunday."
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, who coached Herbert in the 2020 Senior Bowl, talked about Herbert's preparation and what stands out to him about No. 10. Take a look at what Taylor, Burrow and more had to say about the Chargers ahead of Week 13.
Staley gave updates on defensive lineman Linval Joseph who has missed the last two games due to injury and being on the Reserve/COVID list. Staley said Joseph will miss this week's game in order to get back into game shape and make sure he's fully recovered before returning to game action. As for the offensive line, Staley said guard Matt Feiler will return to the lineup and talked about the importance of getting him back after missing last week’s game.
"He's one of our best players," Staley said. "It'll mean a great deal. You saw last week what he means to us. I think, sometimes, you see the value of people when they're not there, and I think that he certainly fits that description. He's had a good week of practice and shown real toughness. He gives us a really good chance to be our best offense."
The Chargers kick off Week 13 at 10 a.m. Pacific with a chance to improve to 7-5 on the season.
Videos of the Week
This week also brought a collection of videos to Chargers fans, take a look at the top videos released throughout the week.
All In: Episode 8 | The Warrior Spirit:
Go all-access on Austin Ekeler's unique path from undrafted rookie to starting running back on this episode of All In powered by Bud Light. Get exclusive breakdowns of Ekeler's career-highs in the Chargers victory over the Steelers on Sunday Night Football and look ahead to the Chargers key matchups heading into the December playoff picture.
Running for History: Episode 5 | The 2006 Chargers
On the fifth episode of Running for History powered by Lazy Dog, we take a deep dive into the Chargers historic 2006 season. LaDainian Tomlinson scored his way into the history books and alongside new starting quarterback, Philip Rivers, the Chargers finished with the best record in football. Running for History is a six-part narrative podcast chronicling LT's historic 2006 season with the Chargers.
Featuring: LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Shawne Merriman, Domonique Foxworth and more!
Mic'd up: CB Chris Harris Jr.
Chargers cornerback Chris Harris wired for sound during the Los Angeles Chargers Week 12 matchup vs Denver Broncos. Presented by Hyundai.
Film Room: Breaking Down Joey Bosa and Joe Burrow
Chris Hayre and Daniel Jeremiah break down game film of what makes Joey Bosa so disruptive on defense and what makes Joe Burrow so dangerous on offense ahead of the Chargers Week 13 matchup vs. the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.
Ice Cold Tweets 2021: Episode 6
Chargers players read old tweets from their teammates and guess who tweeted it.
Tweets of the Week
Bolt Up for 2022!
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