While turnovers and penalties told the story of why the Chargers lost their preseason opener 24-17 in Arizona, Saturday night was not void of encouragement.
Los Angeles won the time of possession battle by over 10 minutes and held Arizona's offense to 0-for-11 on third down. After Monday's practice, Head Coach Anthony Lynn praised his second-team defense's performance in the desert.
"I thought they dominated," he said. "I thought they played well. It's good to see those rookies run around and make some plays."
Safety Derwin James and linebackers Uchenna Nwosu and Kyzir White all said they were unaffected by the speed of the game in their NFL debuts. White, who played a team-high 72 percent of the defensive snaps (39) and had three tackles, "thought it was going to be a lot faster."
Nwosu was on the field for 48 percent of the team's defensive snaps (26). His night included two quarterback hits and a sack. James, who played 54 percent of the snaps (29) on D, added two tackles.
"It was much slower than what we expected," he said. "I guess it comes from our operation and our coaches getting us ready."
The moment wasn't too big for the youngest Chargers on Saturday. Keep performing, and promotions could be coming.
"I like the depth, and some of those guys may not be depth," Lynn said. "They keep playing the way they're playing, they may find themselves in that starting lineup."
Running back Austin Ekeler's impressive training camp carried into Arizona on Saturday. Ekeler had 64 total yards against the Cards, with the majority coming on two plays: a 20-yard rush and a 39-yard reception.
"That's what preseason's about, showing that you can be (a) consistent playmaker," he said.
On Monday, Lynn praised the second-year player, who can be deployed in a variety of ways.
"He's a versatile back," Lynn said. "He has excellent hands. We can use him out of the backfield. We can create matchups with Austin on safeties and linebackers, and we can use him that way to take some of the pressure off of Melvin (Gordon)."
Ekeler finished 2017 with 539 total yards and five touchdowns.