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Why Kristian Fulton is Embracing 'Fresh Start' With the Bolts


Chargers cornerback Kristian Fulton, wide receiver DJ Chark, Jr., defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale and safeties coach Chris O'Leary took the podium Monday at Hoag Performance Center during Phase Two of the offseason program.

Below are three takeaways from their media availabilities Monday afternoon:

Fulton's fresh start

Kristian Fulton joined the Bolts with a blank slate.

After spending his first four seasons in Tennessee, the cornerback turned the page and made his way to Southern California for a new start in free agency this spring.

"It's been great," Fulton said at the podium Monday. "I feel like everybody is really on the same page here so they've made it easy for everyone with a fresh start here so they can come in and really make it a smooth transition.

Fulton later added: "Everybody is just trying to get on the same page so we can get things rolling."

Getting a brand new start was one of the things that made the Los Angeles an attractive destination for Fulton.

But he also felt a comfort, too, in what the Chargers had in the building and what they are working towards.

"I think what attracted me, obviously I think the coaching staff is excellent, I think they have all the pieces to be a successful team as far as [Chargers Head Coach Jim] Harbaugh, [Chargers Defensive Coordinator] [Jesse] Minter," Fulton said. "I felt really comfortable with the schemes that they were going to bring in.

"I felt like it was just a great opportunity just to get a fresh start," Fulton added. "I wanted to go somewhere where the coaches have the same mindset to win. That's all I've been around, so that's pretty much what led me here."

It also helps to have someone with the experience and pedigree of Harbaugh leading the way.

"100 percent. He's won everywhere he's been and if that don't really stand out to you as a player, then I don't really know," Fulton said. "I think that's what we're in this for, is obviously to compete but to win. I've won at every level of my career so trying to get a Bowl here."

Fulton has been off and running trying to familiarize himself with his new defense both on and off the field as well.

Chargers defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale praised the cornerback's approach since joining the Bolts.

"I'll be honest with you, he's got kind of the rookie mentality, 'Coach, teach me. Whatever it is, I want to learn, I want to get better at this,'" Clinkscale said Monday. "This is a new lease on life for him and you see it out there.

Clinkscale added: "He moves really fluid, you could tell he's experienced, he's able to adjust, he's able to put it in our language fast and he's a pro."

And even in the early part of the offseason program, Fulton is liking what he's seeing from Minter and the coaching staff.

Getting the little things down now can pay big dividends down the road.

"I like how they break down the details and how they want everyone to learn everything as far as the defense," Fulton said. "I feel like that's getting everybody comfortable with their role and really just being comfortable with what the guy next to you is doing.

"I feel like that's a great way to go about it because if you're comfortable with the guy and he's comfortable with what he's doing, you're going to be comfortable and knowing what you doing, how to use your help, just small things like that," Fulton added. "I feel like that's really big."

The same motivation remains for Fulton entering this new chapter with the Bolts.

"I got something to prove every year," Fulton said. "In my opinion, it wasn't my best year last year on the field.

"Like I said, every time I step on the field that's got to be my mindset, to prove a point and that's what I'm here to do," Fulton added. "Just make the most of this year."

Chark ready to play with Herbert

DJ Chark, Jr., got a text shortly after signing with the Bolts a week ago.

It was his new quarterback checking in to introduce himself.

Chark said Monday that Justin Herbert wasted no time reaching out to help the pair build a connection that will translate to the field.

The 6-foot-3 wide receiver talked about what drew him to Los Angeles — and why he was fired up to play with a passer like Herbert.

"Big time," Chark said. "He's a top-five QB in this league any given year, you know? Being here and seeing the way that he works and catching passes from him, the timing has been great.

"I've played with many QBs in my career so being able to play with an elite guy is definitely something I'm excited to do," Chark added. "I feel like he can help me in a lot of different ways."

The prospect of joining the Bolts was something he felt good about from the first meeting with the team, as he called it a "great match" for both sides.

He already has some familiarity with the coaching staff after having crossed paths with Chargers wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal in Jacksonville during the 2021 season.

Chark has wasted no time getting in the building and working with the team, as he's excited about the potential of his skillsets mixed with the offense.

"Everything always starts with competing," Chark said. "That's what this game is about, that's the nature of this game. So, coming in and competing, but also the things I've done well over the years — I've been really good at stretching the field.

"Having a quarterback like Justin, that's something he excels at," Chark added. "It's only going to bring me up a notch. Justin is the type of quarterback that elevates the guys around him, so why be a part of something like that?"

Bringing the DBs together

The togetherness of the roster has been something mentioned by both players and coaches early in the offseason process.

It's no different in a defensive backs room led by Clinkscale, who detailed the early stages of bringing the room together as one.

"We're all together in the room and just bringing those guys together and getting them on one page, one accord. It's special because I believe the mentality has got to be right," Clinkscale said. "Working with Kristian and anybody there, it's just been special for those guys to come in and know we're going to work.

"We're going to hold them accountable, we're going to get on them if they're not doing things right, but they're going to go out there and they have the ability to execute and for our defense to be special," Clinkscale added.

Clinkscale was one of numerous Michigan coaches to join Harbaugh on the Bolts after spending three seasons as the school's secondary coach.

He knows exactly what Minter expects from the secondary, as he relies on the group and puts a lot of responsibility in their hands.

It's going to be a process, but having the buy-in of everyone early, from rookies to veterans, has made it that much easier as Clinkscale spoke glowingly about the DB room being ready to learn on the field and in the meeting room.

"When I got here you think, 'Oh, college is different'," Clinkscale said. "The pros want to learn just like Derwin James, just like all these guys. They want to learn, they all want to get better and look at things a little different way to they can be successful."

Chargers safeties coach Chris O'Leary added: "The excitement to be around [Derwin], to be around Alohi [Gilman], to be around all the DBs — and to know we're going to get where we want to go because they have that same hunger and desire and mindset the coaches have — the sky is the limit."

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