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Why Quentin Johnston is Confident in Himself Heading Into Year 2


Quentin Johnston is embracing a fresh start in Year 2.

The Chargers wide receiver had an admittedly up-and-down showing during a rookie season that featured highlights but also moments he has learned from.

Johnston, the Bolts 2023 first-round pick, spoke with reporters Tuesday and outlined his approach as he enters his second NFL season.

His main focus? Johnston said he is "100 percent" more confident than he was at this point a year ago.

"It was alright. Obviously, some games were better than others," Johnston said of his rookie season. "That was kind of my whole thing, just going in and being very critical of myself. Fixing that at practice and off the field, making it better for next season."

He later added: "[My confidence] just comes from, like I said before, last year and now having a full year under my belt. Going into this year knowing what to expect. Knowing how to move, develop in a better routine for myself on and off the field."

Johnston tallied 38 catches for 431 yards and two scores as a rookie while playing in all 17 games.

But everything from a season ago has essentially been wiped clean now that the Chargers have a new coaching staff and also revamped their wide receiver room.

Chargers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is now in charge, with Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman and wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal now tasked with helping Johnston grow and get better for the upcoming season.

Lal said Tuesday that he wants Johnston to take things one day at a time as everyone works to get on the same page.

"First thing, I don't look back. I wasn't coaching him. I wasn't here. I don't know the circumstances. It's not fair to look back," Lal said of Johnston's 2023 season. "Looking forward, he moves as well as any receiver I've seen. The potential is very high. Just coaching him with great detail.

"I don't like to put a ceiling, high or low, on someone. It's approach each day. Approach each technique," Lal added. "Approach each nuance of every route. Master the technique and then let's see where we fall. That's really the most fair way to do it with every player."

Lal later expanded on Johnston's "very impressive" movement skills."

"He's got a lot of juice. He almost bounds when he runs," Lal said. "Working on his body positioning is one of the biggest things that we've done.

"He's really improved some of his stop-type of routes, like keeping his shoulders over his feet longer and not looking early," Lal added. "That's a big jump he's made so far."

Johnston echoed Lal's comments, noting that he's put plenty of emphasis on his ability to run successful NFL routes.

"I feel like the biggest lesson that I learned from last year … is confidence in my route running. I feel like I was pretty good in some areas, some routes," Johnston said. "Going back, a lot of stuff I could have been a little bit lower on some routes or had more patience with other things.

"I feel like a lot of my stuff was rushed. It was kind of a mix between anxiousness and, 'Okay, I need the ball,' instead of being on the quarterback's timing," Johnston added. "I was trying to rush a bit on my time. This year, I just have realized [patience with] progressions and being more confident in my route running. I feel like that's the main thing."

And while the 2024 season is still four months away, the Bolts could need Johnston to step up in a position room that saw the departures of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams this offseason.

"I wasn't 100 percent expecting it, but this is the NFL. I'm not really surprised about a lot of things that go on. At that point, it just was what it was," Johnston said. "I texted both of them. I was like, 'Good luck.' They said what they had to say to me.

"From that moment, it's just me taking accountability. That happened. They were the leaders last year," Johnston added. "I have to step up, lock in a little bit more and be that leader that they were for the rest of the guys this year."

Johnston said Tuesday that he went back and evaluated both the ups and downs from his rookie season.

The wide receiver brought up his performance in Green Bay and referenced a fourth-quarter pass from Justin Herbert that he wasn't able to hang onto with under a minute to go.

Johnston's mission going forward is to make sure that doesn't happen again, with the goal of also contributing more heading into Year 2.

"I always kind of go back to that moment when I step back out on practice or if I'm feeling a certain type of way at practice," Johnston said.

He later added: "Going into this year, I can confidently say that I'm far more ready for it this season. More confident. I feel like part of that was just with the first-year jitters still kind of feeling my way around everything. This year, I'm more confident."

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