Below are three takeaways from Wednesday's press conferences with head coach Brandon Staley, WR Keenan Allen, and OLB Uchenna Nwosu.
Herbert's first Pro Bowl
On Wednesday, the NFL announced that six Chargers players were named to the 2022 Pro Bowl. Quarterback Justin Herbert was among the six players nominated for the Bolts, making it the first Pro Bowl nomination of his two-year career.
With the nomination, Herbert became the first Chargers quarterback to be named to the Pro Bowl within his first two seasons. The reigning offensive rookie of the year, who has an AFC-leading 32 touchdown passes, continues to set records in his second season and add to his resume.
During Wednesday's media availability, wide receiver Keenan Allen talked about the type of player Herbert is and how he's not only having a Pro Bowl caliber year but an MVP season for the Bolts.
"He's balling," Allen said. "He's going crazy. He's leading us in his second year. He's just making outstanding play after play. 300 [passing] yards, he's got the most of them. Savage, he's throwing touchdowns to everybody on the field. He's ridiculous."
Head coach Brandon Staley talked about how impressive Herbert's ability to improve each week is and how his hunger and drive allows him to be the best version of himself.
"I think [it's] a testament to him and his hard work," Staley said. "It's a testament to his teammates. It's a testament to his coaching staff. He's certainly worthy of that selection. I think what he would tell you is that it's because of his teammates. I think that we've had a really, really quality season around him. He's been at the center of everything that we've done as a football team. I'm so proud of his season. I'm so proud of how he's leading our football team."
Allen was also selected to the Pro Bowl for the fifth-straight year. Earlier in the day, he talked about what the 2022 nomination would mean to him.
"It would mean a lot," Allen said. "Consistency and availability, being there for the team, being there to make plays when it's time to make plays and staying consistent."
Ready to roll on defense
With OLB Joey Bosa ruled out for Sunday's game and OLB Chris Rumph II and DL Joe Gaziano currently 'day-to-day' according to Staley since being added on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Chargers will need to rely on a variety of players to step up against Houston if those players are unable to suit up.
OLB Uchenna Nwosu, who is one sack away from passing his career best for a season, talked about how the defense is 'ready to roll' despite the uncertainty of those players.
"Everybody has been working and practicing hard," Nwosu said. "Guys are preparing for this moment. Guys are eager to get on the field to show what they can actually do offense, defense and special teams-wise. I'm proud of everybody and how they are working. We're ready to roll."
Nwosu explained that his role in the defense won't change this weekend, however one player who will get a chance to be featured in the pass rush attack is linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. The second year linebacker has served as a hybrid style inside and outside LB for the Bolts and Sunday could be an opportunity to showcase his talents even more.
"He definitely has all of the physical attributes to be on the edge," Nwosu said. "He did a little bit of it in college, in regard to rushing the passer and coming off the edge. I'm excited to see Kenneth play. He's putting in the work. He has the attributes for it. I just can't wait to see him go to work."
Creating turnovers is a 'real strength' of the Bolts defense
When evaluating the defense's performance, Staley talked about the Bolts' ability to force turnovers especially since the bye week. The Chargers defense is currently tied for 11th in the NFL in takeaways with 20 on the season. Staley talked about why that has been a strength of the Bolts defense this season.
"Probably what I've been maybe most pleased with since the bye is we've taken the football away," Staley said. "We've really turned the ball over, which has been a big point of emphasis with the strip-sacks, with the interceptions. We've been able to do that consistently. It has created more opportunities for our offense and has created more points. I think that that's been a real strength of ours."
Nwosu explained how being in the AFC playoff hunt has caused his attention to detail to turn up for the final stretch of the regular season and how along with forcing turnovers, another strength of this unit has been their ability to improve the run defense in the weeks following the bye.
"That's a testament to what we've been talking about all year," Nwosu said. "Especially after the bye week, emphasizing how we have to stop the run game and make teams one-dimensional. The positives that we're carrying over are continuing to stop the run."
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