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Three Takeaways: Why Justin Herbert Feels The Chargers Are 'Miles Ahead' of Where They Were Last Season

Herbert OTAs FTP 2

Below are three takeaways from quarterback Justin Herbert's press conference on Monday following the team's first practice of OTAs.

'We're miles ahead of where we were last year'

As Justin Herbert heads into his third season as the Chargers signal caller, he's gained more than just valuable knowledge and experience. After the first day of OTAs on Monday a noticeably more muscular Herbert explained he has been 'getting after it' with the team in the weight room and is up to 245 pounds (nine pounds more than his weight listed on the roster).

As he enters his second year in head coach Brandon Staley's scheme, No. 10 talked about carrying over lessons learned from last season and why he feels the Bolts are ahead of the game at this year's OTAs.

"I think the biggest thing is understanding that we're miles ahead of where we were last year," Herbert said. "Last year, we were focusing on calling the right plays in the huddle and making sure everyone was lined up in the huddle and getting lined up on the field. Guys have tons of film to look back on from last year and we're farther ahead of where we thought we were going to be. It's always great to add those guys in. We're adding a guard, we're adding another tight end. Those guys are smart and they're able to pick it up really quickly."

Herbert also has his number one and two wide receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams in attendance at OTAs, along with almost the entire Bolts' roster. With a number of new faces on both sides of the ball as well, Herbert sees OTAs as a 'great opportunity for us to get better' and talked about the benefits the practices hold.

"I think it's great team building to have everyone together and have that camaraderie of being together and knowing each other," Herbert said. "I think that helps on the field. When things get tough, whether it's the fourth quarter or fourth down, knowing the guy next to you and being able to trust him."

Using a year of film to improve his game

Despite breaking numerous NFL records in just his second year in the NFL, including two single-season franchise records in 2021, Herbert said he's always finding ways to improve his game. No. 10 gave insight into what he's put his focus on when it comes to making improvements from last season.

"I think it's just to continue learning the offense and have a better understanding of it," Herbert said. "Having been in it for one year, you learn a lot. At the same time, you have that year of film and all of those receivers coming back. Having that understanding of the offense, I think we can always get better and always improve on that."

Herbert gave credit to veteran quarterback Chase Daniel for being 'another coach out there' and helping him make the transition in the Bolts offense last season. He also went into more detail on what aspects of his game he's working at this point in the offseason.

"I think a lot of it is still working on the drops, being smooth and minor corrections here and there," he said. "— Footwork in the run game and just being smooth. A five, six or seven-step drop under center is going to be huge. I think we're going to do our best to utilize that as well and have that balanced run game and pass game out of under center. I think that has been really helpful."

New weapons added on offense

Monday also gave Herbert the first chance to talk about the new weapons added on offense during the offseason. Herbert explained that he's been able to spend a lot of time on the field with Chargers new tight end Gerald Everett in order to work on their timing together. Herbert talked about the unique athleticism Everett brings to the Bolts offense at the tight end position.

"We watched a bunch of film on him," he said. "I thought the cool thing was they were handing off jet-sweeps to him. It's not too often that you get to do that with a tight end, especially. Yards after catch, yards after receiving the ball on a handoff, he's great at and that's why he has been so good at what he does. To team up with him, I think that's going to be huge for our offense."

Herbert also talked about the addition of the Chargers first round draft pick in guard Zion Johnson and what having a strong interior offensive line does for the quarterback, that features center Corey Linsley, guard Matt Feiler and now Johnson.

"I think it gives you more of a sense of being comfortable in the pocket," he said. "I think you have more time and you're not worried about games, picks and stunts like that. To have those three solid guys up there and [T] Storm [Norton], [T] Trey Pipkins [III] and [T] Rashawn [Slater], they've done an incredible job all year. I trust those guys and the backs do, as well. Getting everyone lined up with the protections, I think they've done an exceptional job."

Check out the best photos from OTA #2 of the Bolts 2022 offseason

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