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Why LB Denzel Perryman Came Back to the Chargers

Perryman FTP

Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman, linebackers coach NaVorro Bowman and defensive lineman Poona Ford took the podium Monday at Hoag Performance Center during Phase Three of the offseason program.

Below are three takeaways from their media availabilities Monday afternoon:

A return for Perryman

Denzel Perryman is back with the team he began his NFL journey with — even if it looks a bit different than when he last donned the powder blue.

"It feels good to be back, back where it all started," Perryman said. "Like I'm back home."

"Obviously, there's a lot of different faces in the locker room, some familiar faces," he added. "Even in the building, there's new faces, familiar faces. It just feels good."

The veteran linebacker has enjoyed his return to the team that drafted him in the second round during the 2015 NFL Draft. And he's wasted no time acclimating himself to the new environment under Chargers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.

He said that while it is different this time around under a new coach, he's been having a great time during the early phases of the offseason.

"Different faces in here. Obviously, it's a whole different structure that Coach Harbaugh got going on," Perryman said. "I don't know what the structure was last year or previous years before that, but I like the structure he has, the way he goes about directing the team. I love it."

Chargers linebackers coach NaVorro Bowman was very familiar with Perryman and the type of player he is even without coaching with him beforehand.

And he had his eyes on trying to get him back on the Chargers when he knew he was available in free agency.

Not only were the Bolts able to add someone with over 100 games of experience under his belt, but they were also able to add someone Bowman believes can help both the team on the field and the rest of the younger linebacker room.

"I've been watching Denzel for a long time, and he plays the right way," Bowman said about Perryman. "When I knew that he was out there, I wanted to get him."

"No matter what was wrong with him, I just know that the way he's going to come in and work, come in and set the example like Daiyan [Henley], like Junior [Colson]," Bowman added. "He's a 10-year vet and still he's doing the things that a lot of 10-year guys I played with wouldn't do. He's approaching it the right way and we're glad to have him."

As far as role goes with the Bolts, Perryman isn't set on anything specific — he just wants to help the team win whatever way he can.

He'll even line up to kick if he has to.

"Whatever they want me," Perryman said jokingly. "I'll be the placekicker if they ask me to."

Competitive LB room

The Chargers linebacker group will be one to watch simply because there's a lot left to be decided from now until the season kicks off in September.

With both starting positions up for grabs, there will be a lot of competition in a room made up of many young players such as Daiyan Henley and Junior Colson, who were each third-round picks in the past two drafts.

And Bowman believes his room has more than enough and will be up to the challenge — all while making each other better in the process.

"I love our room," Bowman said. "It's a great room, got a lot of competition. I look forward to what's coming up next."

Bowman later added: "Iron sharpens iron type of thing. There's no real weak point in our room. Everyone is hungry and the competition level is very high. I think everyone understands that in our room."

The Bolts linebacker coach talked more in detail Monday about the pair of young linebackers in the room.

Henley has stood out early to Bowman, as he specifically pointed out his build and what he beings to the table in the middle of the Bolts defense.

"His athletic ability, he's well put together," Bowman said about Henley. "We're all new seeing him so it's exciting to see the ways he can move around. He's doing a great job thus far.

"And he was here, right? So he gets the first shot to own this position and just don't give it up," Bowman added. "It's early right now, but the level of Group 1 and Group 2, anyone can go out there and play. They're doing a great job."

And with Colson, it's been just what Bowman expected from the Michigan product so far.

His familiarity with Chargers Defensive Coordinator Jesse Minter's defense has been apparent early on in the meeting rooms, as he is excited to be able to get more hands on with Colson on the field and help round out his game.

"Let me tell you about Junior, OK? We're in meetings and he's answering every single question," Bowman said about Colson. "We knew when we drafted him that he'd be familiar with the defense. But just to have a young guy speak so confidently and see the heights that other young guys can reach, he's there to settle them down and say, 'Hey, Coach is talking fast but it's just this.'

"Just to have a guy like that who understands the scheme, he just really needs to learn how to be a pro," Bowman added. "That's where I come in, just teaching him how to be a pro, just teaching him what he can do in certain defensive calls, when you can take a gamble here and there."

There's only so much you can get out of practices in shirts in shorts like there are in OTAs but for Bowman, this is a big opportunity for the group to improve as players.

"We stress to the guys a lot: you're not going to make the team now being in shirts and shorts," Bowman said. "Let's not go out there and try to be the scout team hero or the practice tempo violator.

"Let's get our looks," Bowman added. "This moment is all about technique and what you know and how much you can take from the classroom onto the field."

A vet in the DL room

The Southern California weather is a good selling point for players.

Add in Harbaugh and the decision was simple for Poona Ford.

"For one, the weather," Ford said with a smile about what attracted him to the Chargers. "And just you know, the opportunity to come and play with a good coach like Coach Harbaugh."

The veteran defensive lineman has gotten right to work with defensive line coach Mike Elston early in the offseason process and has enjoyed the drive he feels in the room up to this point.

"I feel like it's been a good experience so far," Ford said. "Everybody has been welcoming with open arms. Everybody kind of has the same mindset. Everyone wants to win and that's what I want to do, too."

"Everybody is kind of young, hungry. Just putting our best foot forward, especially with a new coach," Ford later added. "I feel like the coach is doing a real good job, both him and our assistant coaches, of just getting us prepared and being able to do what we need to do."

As a player entering his seventh season in the league, Ford is up there with Morgan Fox as the most experienced members in a very young defensive line room.

It's a new kind of situation for the veteran, who described himself as not very talkative.

"I mean, I feel like I don't really like it because I'm not a talkative person," Ford said with a smile. "But I feel like Morgan does a good job. That's his role, but I just kind of sit back and be quiet and chime in when I need to."

It's not to say Ford doesn't input when needed however, as he does a lot of his talking with his teammates during the action.

"Mostly on the field when we're doing our drills and stuff," Ford said. "I feel like I can chime in on that."

Ford has 8.5 career sacks in 84 career games (64 starts) during his time with Seattle and Buffalo.

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