Mailbag: Who is Impressing at OTAs?

*Q:  Anyone we haven’t heard much about you think is impressing at OTAs? – M.K. Daly *

 A:  I’ve been impressed by Geno Smith.  I was eager to watch the quarterback as something Head Coach Anthony Lynn said last month really caught my eye:

“I have a lot of confidence in Geno Smith. (He brings) competition. I was with Geno his first couple of years, when he had a couple of productive seasons. As a rookie, stepping in, I think he had five come-from-behind wins his rookie year. I know what he’s capable of doing. I think he lost his focus there for a little while, but he’s hit the reset button. He’s re-focused. We’re glad to have him.”

So far, I think that focus is back.  Smith’s accuracy has been on point during the first two phases of the offseason, and now I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do going up against the defense.

Q: Who are the other options at tight end? – Marky Perelli

A: A lot of questions about the depth at tight end after Hunter Henry’s injury.  The most experienced player is Virgil Green, who is a seven-year veteran primarily known for his blocking prowess.  His most productive season came in 2016, when he set career-highs in receptions (22) and yards (237).  Sean Culkin is entering his second season, having spent all of 2017 on the active roster. However, he was only active for two games.  Meanwhile, Braedon Bowman spent virtually all of last year on the team’s practice squad. The 6-2, 240-pounder appeared in three games for the New York Jets in 2016 before injuring his ACL. Finally, there are two undrafted free agents at the position in Cole Hunt and Ben Johnson. The 6-7, 255-pound Hunt is regarded as a top-tier blocker while Johnson caught 61 passes for 670 yards in 45 career games at Kansas.

Q:  How will Gus Bradley use Derwin James in our defense this season? – Travis Capps

A: From the moment he was drafted, Bradley has insisted the team will use the offseason to determine the best way to deploy the first-round pick.  James can play strong or free safety, as well as line up against tight ends in the slot.  Like with any young player, there is an adjustment period acclimating to the NFL.  The Bolts are rightfully taking a slow, steady approach to mixing James into the defense.  Right now, he is primarily playing strong safety, but the Chargers plan to add more to his plate as the offseason moves along.

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