General Manager Tom Telesco and Head Coach Anthony Lynn held court for 30 minutes Thursday morning, answering a wide array of questions about the Bolts.
The duo revealed ton of important insight into the state of the team entering the 2019 league year, including some major decisions they need to make on the horizon.
Here are some highlights from what they had to say:
Bolts Have Met with Verrett
It’s been a star-crossed three seasons for the former Pro Bowl corner as injuries have limited him to only five games over that span. In fact, he’s missed 31 of the last 32 regular season games following knee and Achilles injuries. However, there’s no denying his talent as he’s set to be an unrestricted free agent. When asked about the possibility of re-signing Verrett, Telesco offered up that the team has already met with his representatives:
“We’ve talked to Jason and his agent. We’ll kind of see where it goes. Where he was drafted has nothing to do with it, but the fact of us knowing him – knowing the type of player he is and knowing the type of person he is – certainly it would (factor in Verrett returning).”
Gates Return Still Up in the Air
The future Hall of Famer made no bones about his intentions to play in 2019 immediately following the Bolts’ playoff loss to the Patriots. Moreover, he stressed his desire to return to the Chargers for his 17th season. Nobody wants a replay of what happened last year when a decision wasn’t made until late in the offseason, so Telesco and Lynn said they’re working on getting a resolution sooner rather than later:
Telesco – “We’ll talk to his representatives at the combine, but I don’t have a timetable quite yet. Really nothing has changed since I talked after the last game. Yeah, there’s still a chance (he comes back).”
Lynn – “When you have a Hall of Fame player like Antonio Gates, we can definitely use him. I like what he means to our locker room. But we have a lot of things to look at. We’ll see where it goes from there. I know he expressed some interest in wanting to come back, different than last year. But, like I said, we’ll see.”
The Latest on Lamp
Forrest Lamp was drafted to be a fixture on the offensive line for years to come. Unfortunately, his career hasn’t been able to get off the ground yet. Lamp missed his entire rookie year with a knee injury suffered in training camp, and then wasn’t able to get much playing time in 2018 as the offensive line was gelling as a five-man unit. However, while his first two years have not gone as anticipated, Lynn made it clear the Bolts still see Lamp as a big part of their future. But, he’ll still have to earn it.
_ “We brought Forrest Lamp here to be a long-time starter. But we’ll see. Michael (Schofield) stepped up and played well last year when Forrest was hurt. It just so happened when Forrest came back and was healthy, the offensive line had a good chemistry, and they were rolling. It was hard to plug him back in.”_
Telesco teased during his state of the team address in January that the Bolts may look into extending several players under contract, similar to what they did a year ago with Casey Hayward. That includes Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon, who enters the final year of his contract in 2019. The GM was asked where things stand regarding possible extensions and offered the following insight.
"I thought he had a great year and was highly productive for us this year. He’s a three-down back and puts a lot of balls in the end zone for us, a lot of touchdowns. He’s a great player. We’ve got him and a number of other guys that will look at extending at some point. I don’t have a timetable on those guys, but we’ve gotten to the point if we’re going to say our philosophy is to draft, develop and re-sign, we want to extend those guys we’d like to have back long-term. But I don’t have a timetable on anything like that.”
Nick Bosa may very well be the first player selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. So, it was only not a matter of if, but rather when Telesco and Lynn would be asked to compare him to his brother, Joey. Both men admitted they haven’t watched enough tape of Nick yet to truly compare, they did offer some brief thoughts.
Telesco – "I have not studied Nick as much at this point as well as I know Joey, so I’m a little hesitant to make comparisons. But just from watching them on TV in a couple tapes, you see that the style of play, the technique and the hand use is all very, very similar. They’re similar players.”
The Real Mike Williams
After an injury-plagued rookie year, Mike Williams broke through in a major way in 2018. His 11 total touchdowns were the fourth most by an NFL wideout, and he authored a performance for the ages against the Kansas City Chiefs which earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. He dominated the division rivals in Week 15, hauling in a career-high seven catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns plus a TD run and game-winning two-point conversion. Overall, he caught 43 passes for 664 yards in addition to his 10 receiving TDs. So, what did Telesco think of the young wideout’s growth?
"We thought he had a really, really good year, and it was really from the first day of training camp. You could see the talent that was there, and he did a tremendous job this year. His route running, his speed, his quickness and his awareness – his toughness to go across the middle and make tough catches on third down, he made a lot of those for us this year. He had a great year for us, but we’re also in an offense where we have a lot of guys to get the football to, so he didn’t have 80, 90 or 100 catches, but he has that type of ability. With the other guys we have, the opportunities he had, he really took advantage of it. It’s great to see.”
High Hopes for White
The Chargers found a gem in Kyzir White last year, drafting the safety in the fourth round with the intent to play him at linebacker. Well, he went off in the offseason and training camp, earning the starting weakside linebacker spot. Unfortunately, White appeared in only three games before being shut down for the season with a knee injury. Well, it’s clear the team has high hopes for him as he returns from a knee injury in 2019:
Telesco – “We know he can play, which is good. We didn’t see a whole lot of him, but we saw him in training camp and at the beginning of the year. He won our weak-side outside linebacker spot and played well until he got hurt. He’s on track now. I don’t know exactly as far as where he’ll be in the offseason program when we start in mid-April, but we’re hopeful to see him at some point in the process and he gets right back in the mix again. He has a lot of the traits that we’re looking for in that position. He was a college safety that we projected to linebacker in our scheme. But he has linebacker size. If you look at him, you don’t see a safety. You see a linebacker. But he has range, the speed and the cover ability that we like in that position. The fact that he has a safety background was a big asset for us, and that fact that he’s naturally a physical hitter. So he had all of the traits of a linebacker. It was a little bit of an adjustment for him, but I was pleasantly surprised that he was able to handle that as quickly as he did, given the fact that he played early for us at a new position, which you don’t see very often. So I give him a lot of credit for that. Hopefully he just keep coming along from the knee injury and he’s ready to go sometime during OTAs.”
Lynn – "I think Kyzir can play any position you like at linebacker. He’s very young and talented. He’s on track to recover. He looked good the last time I saw him. (I’m) excited about getting him back next year.”