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3 Observations: Bolts Defense Comes Up Clutch in Red Zone


Mandatory minicamp is underway for the Chargers, who kicked off the first of three sessions Tuesday morning.

The Bolts held a fast-paced practice that lasted only an hour at Hoag Performance Center before the team headed to Camp Pendleton to spend time with troops and their families.

Here are three observations from Tuesday's practice:

1. Red-zone defense looks strong

The Bolts spent two different chunks of practice working in the red zone, and it was the Chargers first-team defense went up against Justin Herbert's unit in a 7-on-7 drill.

The offense initially had the ball on the 10-yard line but the secondary forced an incompletion in the corner of the end zone.

It was the same story from the 5-yard line as Herbert's pass over the middle couldn't hit his intended target.

Asante Samuel, Jr. continued his strong spring by denying DJ Chark a touchdown on the final rep of the drill.

Herbert completed the pass to Chark in the back of the end zone but Samuel's presence didn't allow Chark to come down in bounds.

Chark tried to state his case but Samuel and fellow cornerback Kristian Fulton pointed out marks in the turf to show it wasn't a touchdown.

2. Herbert-McConkey rapport on full display

While Herbert didn't come away with a score in the aforementioned drill, he did throw a beautiful touchdown pass earlier in practice.

With the ball at the 22-yard line, Herbert hit running back Jaret Patterson on a wheel route with Denzel Perryman right there in coverage.

The score was the highlight of the day for the offense as a fired up Herbert made sure to dap up Patterson after the touchdown.

As for Herbert's favorite target Tuesday, that seemed to be rookie wide receiver Ladd McConkey.

Herbert had eight total reps in 11-on-11 drills midway through practice, with five of those plays being passes.

McConkey caught two of them as he continued to show a strong rapport with No. 10.

The Bolts second-round pick later caught two other passes in full-team drills, both of which came when McConkey was working over the middle of the field.

3. A pair of tryout guys

The Bolts had a pair of tryout players in attendance on Tuesday.

Safety Tony Jefferson, a nine-year veteran, went through individual drills and also lined up in the secondary with the reserves on defense.

Jefferson has played in 113 career games with 67 starts with Arizona, Baltimore, San Francisco and the New York Giants.

The 32-year-old Jefferson played for the Ravens when Chargers General Manager Joe Hortiz was in Baltimore's front office.

Wide receiver Praise Olatoke also went through individual drills with the Chargers.

A former sprinter at Ohio State, Olatoke was born in Nigeria before moving to Scotland at the age of 5. Olatoke was clocked at 10.27 seconds in the 100-meter dash with the Buckeyes.

Olatoke was involved with Ohio State's club football team in 2022, which was his first introduction to the sport.

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