The far corner of the practice field at Hoag Performance Center was full of accomplishments and accolades.
And still so much potential, too.
Yes, Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack were back together again Monday at the Chargers first Organized Team Activity practice of the spring.
It was the second straight year Bosa and Mack were on the field for Day 1 of OTAs and there once again is the familiar hope of what they can accomplish together.
"It was great last year, even the short amount of time that we were together," Bosa said. "Obviously, it was unfortunate that we didn't get more time to play together."
Mack added: "It's always good when you have Joey B. out there, man. A lot of knowledge. A good friend, a good dude to have around in the locker room and the meeting room."
A year ago, Bosa and Mack took the field together for the first time as teammates.
And their Week 1 performances seemingly offered a glimpse of what was to come, as Mack had 3.0 sacks and Bosa added 1.5 sacks (while both forced fumbles) in a season-opening win against the Raiders.
But those good vibes lasted just a few weeks as Bosa was lost for the majority of the season with a serious core muscle injury.
"Yeah, we were out there for six games together [including the playoffs]," Bosa said. "I think we were really growing close together during camp. We kind of feed off each other in the rush.
"I know when I went down, obviously, it kind of was a big shock for me, obviously, and for Khalil and for [outside linebackers coach] Giff [Smith] and all of those guys in the room," Bosa added. "We had been working so hard all camp and we have an idea of how we're rushing together and this and that, so it obviously throws us a curveball."
The tandem is ready to start another journey together, one that hopefully lasts longer than the previous edition.
Day 1 was on Monday.
"I really appreciate all these guys being here, because it's voluntary. I think it says a lot about the culture that we have. Your culture is your best players and the example that they set," said Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley. "Certainly, Khalil Mack sets a high standard, and I think that Derwin [James, Jr.] and Joey are part of that.
"For Joey to be here, I think that it shows all of these young players what it takes to be successful, that you have to be here with your team to improve," Staley added. "We know that Joey has such a specific routine with his brother in Florida. For him to be here, Day 1, really excited about that."
Bosa said Mack was a key reason why he showed up on Day 1 for the second straight year, noting the bod between two of them has strengthen in time.
"Khalil and I, off the field, I think we've grown close just in the short amount of time that we've been together," Bosa said. "I'm excited to keep it going.
"I'd say he's definitely part of the reason that I came out early," Bosa added. "I feel obligated to do my stuff when I have him watching me, have him counting on me. It's nice to have that."
Mack enters the 2022 season with 84.5 career sacks after posting 8.0 in 2022, a year that saw him get regular double teams after Bosa went out.
Bosa has 60.5 career sacks and is a four-time Pro Bowler.
The Chargers hope a healthy tandem can strike fear into opposing offenses this coming season.
"I think what we saw last year in training camp, at the beginning of the year, is that those two guys playing together are special tandem," Staley said. "It's rare that you can find two players of that caliber that you can get together. Our goal is for those two to get to play together.
"We know how productive they are. They're both perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidates," Staley added. "They both can play at that level and we expect them to play at that level. Excited for those guys to have another crack at it this season."
Check out the best photos from OTA #1 of the Chargers 2023 offseason
Both Bosa and Mack said they are healthier than they were a year ago at this time.
Bosa had battled chronic groin issues but said Monday he's feeling the best he has in years. And Mack, who was coming off late-season foot surgery in 2021, said Monday that a full offseason has him feeling like his old self.
"I feel pretty good. I was coming off that injury last year," Mack said. "Being able to get into it and get into a regiment faster and run and do all of the things that I would normally do during the offseason, it feels great."
The Chargers will need the duo to be at their best as they deal with a challenging 2023 schedule that features one elite AFC quarterback after another.
And the tandem's presence on the edge should help out a run defense that struggled on the outside last season.
If everything goes according to plan, the vision the Bolts had of Bosa and Mack playing together could fully come to fruition, even if it's a year later than they hoped.
"I think the more time that we're out there together, the more comfortable we're going to be together and the more that we're going to understand each other when somebody is doing something in the rush," Bosa said. "Like I said last year a bunch of times, I think we complement each other well.
"Once we get more reps and more time together, it'll start being non-verbal communication out there," Bosa added. "We'll really get a feel for each other and when a guy is going high, a guy is going low. I think we have the opportunity to really get to a special spot between us two."
Has the NFL seen what the two can do together?
"Not even close," Mack said. "Just can't wait to get out there with this guy. Not talk too much, but get to work."
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