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Joe Lombardi Praises Justin Herbert's Pocket Presence


We're only on day two of training camp in 2021, but after an offseason program that was predicated on player safety with the elimination of physical team drills, this has been the first time we've seen that action for the Bolts on the field.

This means Justin Herbert has gotten his first taste of what it's like going up against this new-look Chargers defense.

How's it been going so far?

Pretty well, according to offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.

"[On his] first time with the rush, he has great pocket instincts," Lombardi said. "His movement in the pocket, his ball security in the pocket, it's good to see that. We kind of knew about the arm strength, but it's fun to watch the ball pop off of his hands. He's a competitor. When the intensity level rises, his does, too. It's been good. It's been good to get out here and see these guys run around."

Lombardi also reiterated Herbert's penchant for perfection citing No. 10 is a quick learner who "gets more comfortable" each day he's on the field.

"Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks"

Just like Herbert is getting more comfortable in a new system, so too is Joey Bosa.

2021 marks Bosa's sixth season in the league, but the NFL vet is adjusting to what exclusively being an EDGE player presents.

"I'm enjoying the challenge," Bosa said. "It's added another level to my game I think, which is a fun challenge going into year six. Teaching an old dog new tricks. I didn't think it was possible, but I guess it is."

Bosa said accepting the challenge of acclimating to a new defense hasn't been difficult because along with seeing some of the best in the league thrive in it, he also knows success on the field is predicated by the team as a whole, and he's a key cog in that.

"[Bears OLB] Khalil Mack is a pretty good pass rusher. He's better than pretty good; he's one of the best. Coach Staley is going to put me in the best position to succeed. I'm not going to be dropping every single play. But, if I did in that situation, I better know what I'm doing or [Chiefs WR] Tyreek Hill is going to run down the field free. Hopefully, I'm not covering him. I trust these guys. Down the road, if I'm saying, 'Wow, this isn't working for me,' I'm going to speak up. But I don't really see that coming at all.

"I think they have a great plan in mind, and right now, I'm just going to try to put my ego aside and do the best I can to be a good team player and learn it the best I can. I'm going to study and be here for the young guys. Before, like I said, I was kind of solely focused on my pass rush, but now I really want to get an up and down understanding of the defense and just understand football on another level. And, it's fun."

"Elevated" Slay

Back in OTAs, Lombardi touched on how the wide receivers, specifically, Keenan Allen, would be utilized in his offense.

The words free and freedom came up a lot in terms of how Allen's rapport with Herbert would lend itself to positive results on the field.

"You start giving them freedom to make decisions at the top of their routes, leading to a lot of production," Lombardi said in the spring.

But just like with his teammates, this week is the first opportunity to see what Allen and Lombardi have discussed in meeting room actually translate to the field.

For Allen, he said playing more free is a "step up" from what the four-straight Pro Bowler has done over his career thus far.

"I think it's just kind of elevated from the offense that I've been used to, playing with Phil [Philip Rivers,] playing in a west coast offense, playing with [Ken] Whisenhunt's offense, so to speak," he said. "It's elevated from that and it's a step up. It's allowing us to play free and I can play my game. The fact that I was in that offense and with Phil for so long, I'm able to translate it into this offense and use that and put it in here."

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