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How Did the Bolts' Rookies Look in NFL Debut?

Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (58) flexes agasint the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The most common adage for rookies entering the NFL is that the speed of the game is infinitely faster in the pros compared to college.

That couldn't be further from the truth for this year's Chargers rookie class.

In fact, after making their debut against the Arizona Cardinals, they were universally shocked at how easy the game came to them.

"I was surprised a little bit because it was a bit slower than I thought it would be," said Derwin James. "But that's good coaching coming from my coaches getting me prepared. Kyzir (White) and I were on the field talking about it. It went much slower than what you'd expect, but I guess it came from our preparation and our coaches getting us ready."

"(The speed) wasn't too bad," added Uchenna Nwosu. "It was a lot slower than what I thought it was going to be. (The) speed of the game wasn't too bad for me at all. Maybe after the first couple of plays, I realized it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be in terms of speed."

As expected, the rookies' NFL debuts were filled with ups and downs. Still, there were more positives than negatives, which combined with the pace of play is giving them all the confidence in the world moving forward.

James entered the game early in the second quarter, making his presence felt on his very first series. On 3rd-and-8, Arizona quarterback Josh Rosen dumped the ball off to D.J. Foster. James was on him in a flash, dropping the running back for a one-yard loss, forcing a punt.

Overall, James finished with two tackles and one tackle for loss. His impact also went beyond the scoresheet. For instance, he stayed stride for stride with Foster 15 yards down field on a critical third down pass, using his size and speed to shield the running back from the ball as it fell incomplete.

"Yeah, I'm proud of the play because I just always try to go out and make a good play, and that was another third down stop," he said. "Just keep racking up those third down stops and eventually, I'm going to try get the ball in my hands."

Meanwhile, perhaps no Chargers rookie flashed more than Nwosu.

The second-round pick had a pair of back-to-back quarterback hits in the second quarter as the Cardinals had no answer for him. Overall, the USC product finished with two tackles, one sack and two hurries.

"Getting after the quarterback comes natural to me," he explained after the game. "I've been doing it all of college, so when it was time to go, it was time to go. It felt great. It was everything I imagined; the crowd, the emotion, the intensity, plus family was there. It was a great experience. Getting out there, it was like any other football game. I've been doing it so long so it was nothing to me. I came out there ready to work."

However, like with any rookie, Nwosu was far from perfect. In fact, Head Coach Anthony Lynn pointed out he was out of place on several run fits.

"He made some plays out there, but I also saw him give up some runs," Lynn mentioned. "We can watch the tape and evaluate him, but he's a young guy and he's practicing hard every day and he's learning. I like him. I think he's going to be a heck of a pro."

"It was my first day (and) my eyes got a little crazy," Nwosu said. "They got a little everywhere. I definitely (need to work on) reading my keys (and) paying attention to detail."

Meanwhile, the Bolts wanted to see what they had in fourth-round pick Kyzir White right from the get -go. The Chargers rotated the converted safety in with the first-team defense, and he finished with a team-high three tackles along with one tackle for loss.

"I felt pretty good out there," he said. "I was excited but I did pretty good as a whole. I still have some things I want to clean up and work on, but that's expected. I thought my eyes were going to be wide open out there, (but they weren't)."

As White mentioned, he's keenly aware he has a long way to go before getting where he needs to be. Most of all, he lamented the 4th-and-goal play from the two early in the game when he assumed the Bolts got the stop and began celebrating as Chase Edmonds extended the ball over the goal line.

"It's a learning experience," he said shaking his head. "It looked like he was down. I saw his knee down so we started to celebrate."

Finally, it's important to note that the Chargers' draft class weren't the only rookies to make an impression. Several rookie free agents flashed in their debuts, such as Brandon Facyson, who grabbed the Bolts' lone turnover of the game with a full-extension dive for an interception.

However, perhaps no undrafted rookie flashed more than running back Detrez Newsome.

The Western Carolina product showed impressive burst and breakaway speed for a touchdown in the third quarter that was called back by penalty. However, he still managed to find the end zone later in the game, bursting up the gut for a six-yard score. Newsome also proved capable in the passing game, catching four passes for 34 yards.

"I thought (Detrez) Newsome ran well," Lynn said. "He's been showing good vision and instincts the whole camp and I thought it showed up in this preseason game."

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