Below are three takeaways from Wednesday's press conference with Brandon Staley, Austin Ekeler and Justin Jones.
'Force of nature'
A chunk of Wednesday's press conferences focused on the impact veteran defensive tackle Linval Joseph has had for the Chargers this season.
Joseph's teammate and fellow defensive lineman, Justin Jones, talked about how important it is to have a player of Joseph's caliber on the squad, especially when it comes to developing his own craft.
"He's a beast," Jones said. "He's a mountain of a man, just a spectacle. He's a great guy with a great personality, a funny guy. He's freakishly strong and freakishly fast, and he's just great to be around, great to play with. I'm blessed to even have the opportunity to play next to him. I've been blessed to play with guys like that, starting with [former Chargers DT] Brandon Mebane and now Linval Joseph. It's great."
As Jones said, he's been around a lot of vets during his time with the Bolts and Joseph, who's now in his second season with the Chargers, is the latest presence.
He mentioned how, 'seeing his routine — how he does stuff and how he goes about his day — at the end of the day, just makes me want to make sure I'm on my Ps and Qs.'
Brandon Staley further discussed how the veteran leadership from guys like Joseph bodes well for players in the early parts of their careers like Jones.
"He's just a pro's pro," Staley said. "He's a force of nature. There aren't many men constructed like him. What makes him a true force of nature is his spirit. That competitive spirit that he has, he really loves the game. He loves to play. He loves to work. He was on the elliptical grinding miles on Monday, sweating in a sweat jacket and making us all look just so mortal. You can't, as a coach, ever take it for granted ... He's been an anchor for those young guys — not that [DL] Justin [Jones] or Jerry [Tillery] are young players, those guys are in their third or fourth year. He sets an incredible example for all of us."
Vikings on deck
The Vikings' passing attack is home to one of the best wide receiver duos in football in Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. Staley, who has a background of facing the Vikings offense while he was on the Bears coaching staff, talked about what makes this wide receiver corps so special.
"These guys are really, really good," Staley said. "[Thielen's] been doing it for a long time. He's still doing it really at a high level. Now, he has taken this young guy under his wing. [Vikings WR] Justin [Jefferson] is an outstanding player. They can move wherever in the formation. They can run any route. That's the thing about both of these guys, they are legit inside-outside route tree guys. And, they both can run — they are both 4.4 [40-yard-dash]. They're a very difficult tandem to deal with and their passing game is reflective of that."
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler made it clear that this Vikings team is a lot better than their 3-5 record. All five of Minnesota's losses have been within one score and they have played in three overtime games this season.
Ekeler discussed how they can't take this team lightly, despite their record, given how crazy the NFL slate has been this season.
"Sunday is wild, especially this year," Ekeler said. "I don't know if it's just this year in particular, but I feel like you have to show off. We're seeing teams and say, 'Oh, they're probably going to beat this team.' Then, nope — they end up losing or it's a really close game. That's what I love about this game. It's just so competitive. I'm looking forward to competing. We have a plan. How it goes, we'll see."
A players' coach
While Staley's schemes, willingness to go for it on fourth down, and defensive knowledge have been the talk of the town this season, arguably his best quality is his ability to relate and work with his players.
Jones talked about what's stood out to him about Staley as their relationship grows in their first season together.
"He's really interested in what the players have to say," Jones said. "He's really interested in what kind of a defense, what kind of blitz his players like, what kind of coverage his players like and what don't you like. He's really interested to see how we think because at the end of the day we're out there playing…That's really, really important that you have that good chemistry between your coach and players because when it's time to go on the field, you know that they're thinking the same thing and that's major when it comes to winning games."
Staley put his player-to-coach connection on display when talking about the 'progression' of Kenneth Murray to potentially play two positions when he returns from injury.
Staley explained the vision that he has for Murray as a 'hybrid model' linebacker and knows the importance of coaching the young pro through it.
"When you're playing two different positions, that can be a lot for you," Staley said. "So, you have to do that in a sequence where the player is ready for that. I think that there has been enough time elapsed where you can feel like you're good with that because he has a good enough foundation in your system. I think that that was always the vision for us with him, to get him doing a lot of different jobs for us, because he is capable of that; him attacking the quarterback, attacking the line of scrimmage, but also being an asset as an inside linebacker where he is sweeping, playing behind of the ball and running things down, and playing in coverage, too."
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