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Joseph-Day Touts Chargers Cohesion Heading Into OTAs

FTP 05.15

Below are three takeaways from Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley, Chargers Special Teams Coordinator Ryan Ficken and defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day's media availability on Monday:

Chargers building cohesion with familiar faces

Phase II of the Chargers voluntary offseason program continued on Monday, with the new rookies mixing in with the veterans on the practice field for the first time.

It's all ramping up to the start of Organized Team Activity practices that begin next week.

And after a busy offseason a year ago that introduced a lot of new faces in the building, this offseason has been something a bit different. The lone outside addition so far has been All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks, with most other roster moves being players who have re-signed.

Now entering another year with largely the same unit, defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day spoke about the difference this time around. Last season was about building chemistry, but this year it's about continuing to grow closer as a unit.

"It's about the consistency now and putting it all together," Joseph-Day said. "I think, also, that comes with everyone playing together, everyone – Khalil Mack, me, J.C. [Jackson], Morgan [Fox], Kenneth Murray [Jr.]. Last year was the first time that we all [were on the same] team.

"We have a lot of younger guys – Zont [CB Asante Samuel Jr.] Vato [CB Michael Davis], other people in the backfield – that kind of were playing together for the first time," Joseph-Day added. "I feel like, this year, that chemistry was built. I feel like chemistry is built through trials and tribulations and I really believe that that really is going to shape us in a way better way moving forward."

Joseph-Day detailed that the message remains the same to the new rookie class, as understanding the team's culture is a key part in continuing to move forward as a group.

"The mentality – grit, tough and rugged football," Joseph-Day said. "That's what we're tying to instill here and that's what we will instill here. That's the mindset.

"That's the culture here that we're building. It's just hard-nosed, getting your nose bloody, down-in and down-out football players, and that's it," Joseph-Day added.

Check out some photos of the Chargers during the third week of the 2023 off-season program at Hoag Performance Center

Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley has raved about the team’s culture and leadership in the past, and Joseph-Day echoed the sentiment on Monday.

The defensive lineman now entering his second year with the Bolts has seen certain aspects of the culture change throughout his time here, as he sees it in the way the team continues to gain cohesion as they are around each other more and more.

"The comradery, because now we're all used to one another, I think that we're all used to one another after we've had another year with everyone being around each other," Joseph-Day said. "I think that pays dividends in any sport."

"I think that just comes with experience and knowing the players you play around," Joseph-Day later added. "I feel like that's what we're building and that's what we have now because everyone has seen how each other plays. I think that's the biggest thing, the cohesion that's coming together."

With another year of familiarity, Joseph-Day believes that the potential of the Chargers in 2023 is all up to them — which is why there is excitement within the locker room.

"I think that we can go as far as we want to go," Joseph-Day said. "At the end of the day, we proved to everyone that we can go as far as we want to go.

"The only people that are stopping us are us," Joseph-Day added. "That's why I'm very excited for this year and a lot of people are excited for this year."

Ansley speaks on transition to DC role

Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley is settling into his new role.

Ansley was officially elevated to the defensive coordinator position in late February after serving as the Bolts defensive backs coach the previous two seasons. With a couple of months under his belt now at this point, the transition has been smooth for the first-time NFL defensive coordinator.

According to Ansley, this is due in large part to those around him and the experience they have making the whole process easier.

"It's been natural. We have a great staff," Ansley said. "Coach Staley surrounded us with really good men, guys that have been in the league for a long time. We have a good mix of youth with the young guys, as well, so it's been natural."

Ansley does have experience as a defensive coordinator, but it was at the collegiate level at Tennessee prior to joining the Chargers in 2021. As defensive backs coach with the Bolts however, the secondary was able to turn into one of the team's strongest units in 2022, where the pass defense ranked near the top of the league in the last stretch of the season.

Ansley has adjusted well to his new position, as his responsibilities have slightly changed and so has the way he works together with Staley.

"There's a little bit of change, me overseeing the defense with him and making sure that we're all aligned and working in the same direction," Ansley said. "It's just getting in wherever I need to be at, whether that's with the defensive line, those guys on the edge, or the inside linebackers.

"Not a drastic change, day-to-day within the environment, but there are some things that I can do that affect the whole group," Ansley added.

Ansley added other changes that have come with his new position, as he now speaks to a wider audience rather than just his position group.

"Presentations in the installation meetings. Being in different rooms, not just being with the secondary all of the time," Ansley said. "Implementing my personality into some of those groups, which I think we can do going forward."

And what's Ansley's personality like with the defense?

According to him, whatever the players need from him.

"Aggressive, calm. I'm whatever our players need me to be." Ansley said. "Some guys need the rah-rah, some guys need you to be calm. I'm adjustable; whatever the players need from me, that's what I'll do."

Take a look back at the third week of the Chargers 2023 off-season program in monochrome

Ficken excited for Davis to compete for returner spot

Wide receiver Derius Davis has the speed that can change a game.

The addition of Davis brings an explosiveness to a special teams unit that turned it around last year under then first-year special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken.

Now in his second season with the Chargers, Ficken talked about the addition of Davis and the skillset on special teams that led the Bolts to select him in the fourth round.

"There's a lot that he brings to the table," Ficken said Monday. "That's why we were drawn to him. Obviously, his speed is a given. You see that coming off on the tape. The way he catches the ball, he has the ability to go ahead and catch.

"As a punt returner, with his mechanics, he does a great job," Ficken added. "Also, being a dual returner. The success that he had gives our team a lot of opportunities to go ahead and have some big plays in those return phases, which we're excited about."

Davis' resume speaks for itself when it comes to the return game.

During his time TCU, Davis racked up six return touchdowns (five punts, one kickoff) and averaged 15.0 yards per punt return in his collegiate career.

Davis' ability to return both kickoffs and punt returns was something Ficken pointed out as extremely valuable, especially today, as the number of college players who do both is less and less.

"It is rare, but I'll say, especially the way the college game is now — they don't catch as many punts anymore," Ficken said. "A lot of hit and rolls. A lot of times, you don't see them returning.

"The success that he was able to have catching those punts at that level and returning was really attractive for us," Ficken added. "As a dual returner, especially with the kickoff return the way that it's going in college right now, you don't have those returns. We're very fortunate to be able to land him as a dual returner. We're excited for him to be able to compete for both of those positions."

But despite being drafted, Ficken mentioned that Davis will have to earn the position — something the rookie is excited to do.

"Like I told him going through this whole process, he has to go ahead and earn this position," Ficken said. "Nothing is going to be handed to him. We have some guys that are capable that can go ahead and do it on the roster, as well.

"He's also competing with other guys throughout the league, but he's excited for that challenge," Ficken added.

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