Below are three takeaways from Tuesday's press conferences with Kyzir White, Joe Lombardi and Renaldo Hill:
White hits 100
In his fourth season in the NFL, Chargers linebacker Kyzir White hit the century mark in tackles for the first time in his young career. White's 10 total tackles against the New York Giants in Week 14 put him at 106 tackles on the year, setting a career high by a long shot with his previous career high at 77 tackles last season.
This week, White talked about the work that went into getting past the century mark with four games left in the regular season.
"It means a lot," White said. "That is a big accomplishment … It took me four years to hit it … I feel like this is perfect timing for me. But I'm not done yet. I still want to keep going, keep getting better and keep helping this team win games."
White joined his teammate safety Derwin James Jr. with 100 tackles on the year. White and James Jr. are the first Chargers teammates since 2000 to accomplish that feat following Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau and All-Pro safety Rodney Harrison.
White said he's 'grateful' that he and James Jr, were able to hit that mark, but that 'we have other milestones to hit and other things to accomplish as a team.'
Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill talked about White and the rest of the linebacker room and how they've come together to form a 'strong group.'
"Those guys [White and Drue Tranquill] are really comfortable playing with each other," Hill said. "They feed off of each other. Obviously, they're two athletic, fast guys. They both have a secondary background, and it shows on the football field by the way that they communicate and the way that they run to the ball. Then, you mix in K9 [LB Kenneth Murray Jr.] being able to do both jobs. I think that we have a really strong group there."
Preparing for a different Chiefs team
In Week 3 of the NFL season, the Chargers traveled to Kansas City and walked away with a big win against the Chiefs. The Bolts' 30-24 victory sparked a three-game win streak and made a statement across the AFC West. In that Week 3 win, the Chargers defense came to life, forcing four turnovers on the day.
Now in Week 15, the Chargers and Chiefs meet again for arguably their biggest game of the season - this time on Thursday Night Football.
While Hill knows how well the Bolts defense played, he realizes that he will have to 'scrap' his gameplan from early in the season based on what the Chiefs and Chargers have both done as of late.
"Obviously, there were a lot of good things in that ball game, but when you look back, it was three months ago, that was a long time ago," Hill said. "They were still finding themselves as a team, and we were still trying to find ourselves as a team. A lot of things were happening. We'll definitely look at that game and see what we did well, what we can improve on and see where we are at now, as a team. I think that we're both in different places. We have to continue to do what we do best and what's been good for us. Hopefully, that's enough for us to play well and, hopefully, come out with the win."
With the Chiefs on a six-game win streak and having held their last three opponents to nine points each, Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi talked about why he thinks the Chiefs have been able to turn around their performance on defense as of late.
"I think that they're executing better," Lombardi said. "Getting healthy has helped them. They're playing the run a lot better. I think that it's been a top-five defense over the last few weeks. I know [Chiefs Defensive Coordinator] Steve [Spagnuolo] from his time in New Orleans. I know that he is a good football coach and that he has those guys playing really well."
Since that Week 3 matchup, the Chiefs added former Chargers defensive lineman Melvin Ingram to their roster.
White, who was teammates with Ingram for three seasons with the Bolts, talked about the type of player Ingram is.
"He's a great player," White said. "He's fast. He's really physical. He's a vocal leader. He's a guy that you definitely want on your team. It's definitely going to be good seeing him out there."
Next man up mentality
On Monday, standout rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater was added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list meaning the Bolts will likely have to look for different options at left tackle this week.
Head coach Brandon Staley explained on Monday that the team was at work developing a plan to replace Slater on Thursday if needed. On Tuesday, Lombardi explained that third year tackle Trey Pipkins III lined up in Slater's spot during the team's walk through.
Lombardi said he feels Pipkins, who has played in eight games this season, will be ready to go if Slater can't.
"There are challenges regardless of who you have blocking," Lombardi said. "Obviously, we are going to miss Rashawn, but we trust Trey to go in there and do his job. We'll give him help when appropriate, but I think that he will be ready to go."
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bolts were forced to step up when safety Derwin James Jr. was inactive last week after suffering a hamstring injury. Despite James Jr.'s absence, the Bolts were able to hold the Giants to seven points through three quarters.
Hill talked about the defense stepping up and what it meant to get a lot of the Bolts' young players on defense game action against the Giants.
"We always talk about trying to be a playoff team," Hill said. "You're going to need those guys late in the season. I was happy all of those guys got out there and got some reps. [DB] Ben DeLuca, who we just elevated, was able to get in and get some reps. That's big for us, moving forward. [OLB Emeke] Egbule, all of those guys, I was just happy with those guys and that they went out there and played our defense. Getting those guys more comfortable and having some live bullets in front of them, as far as playing in game action, I thought that was huge."
The Chargers did receive good news that wide receiver Keenan Allen was activated Tuesday from the Reserve/COVID-19 list after missing last week's game against the Giants.
Bolt Up for 2022!
Secure your 2022 Season Ticket Memberships today! Click here to learn more.