Below are three takeaways from Rashawn Slater's press conference on Monday.
Looking to build on impressive rookie campaign
From starting in his Pro Bowl debut, getting married, a honeymoon in Bora Bora, and training with offensive line private trainer Duke Manyweather, Chargers left tackle Rashawn Slater has had a busy offseason.
On Monday, Slater spoke to members of the media for the first time since January to talk about what's ahead for his sophomore season. He said his first true offseason as a pro has been a 'huge game-changer' and has allowed him to 're-focus' and 're-energize' as he prepares for year two in the NFL.
From going through the draft process to having to face OLB Joey Bosa in training camp, Slater talked about what stood out to him the most from his rookie year.
"It was a journey," Slater said. "Every single week being able to challenge myself. Being a part of the offense that we were, it was so exciting every single week because I knew that if I did my job, everyone behind me was going to make explosive plays and stuff like that. I was really just focused on me. It was a lot of fun, though."
Slater explained how he tries to go through almost every snap from last season and take notes on how he can get better for 2022. Slater isn't satisfied, even after his Pro Bowl rookie season, and talked about where he can improve after studying the film.
"There were all sorts of things," he said. "I look at the tape and a lot of it kind of makes me cringe. There's detail and technique, and sometimes I'll be this close, but there's always that little room for improvement that can make a big difference. For me, I just try to focus on what I can do to get better; a little thing every single play."
Learning from veterans at the Pro Bowl
Slater, along with quarterback Justin Herbert, safety Derwin James and center Corey Linsley, all got the chance to represent the Bolts in the 2022 Pro Bowl in Las Vegas. Slater's Pro Bowl selection made him the first rookie offensive tackle since 2012 to make the game and talked about what it was like to participate in an event with the league's top players.
"It was fun," Slater said. "It was really cool to be around all of those guys and be able to just chill, instead of being so intense in a game-like environment. Just being able to joke around, it was really eye-opening."
Despite getting an unlucky case of food poisoning while in Vegas, Slater still managed to use the game as a learning experience and seek out veteran linemen on the AFC roster to get their advice.
"We talked technique," he said. "I talked a lot to some of the guys from the AFC, like [Browns G] Wyatt Teller, [Browns G Joel] Bitonio. I still talk a lot to [C] Corey [Linsley] and guys like that. Just kind of picked everyone's brain because there's some stuff that I've always seen on film that I've wondered about, so whenever there was an opportunity, I'd ask a question or something."
Teaming up with new players/o-line coach
Slater's second season on the Bolts also brings new coaches and teammates. Chargers offensive line coach Brendan Nugent joined the coaching staff after spending the last seven seasons with the New Orleans Saints. Slater, who has worked with Nugent during the team's offseason training program, talked about the type of coach Nugent is.
"Nuge is awesome," Slater said. "Same kind of coaching tree as [former Chargers Run Game Coordinator/OL Coach and current Dolphins Offensive Coordinator] Frank [Smith] was, so a lot of the same techniques and stuff. He's awesome. He has a lot of jokes. He's a funny guy, but he's also really precise with technique. He's really driven by technique, which I like a lot."
Slater also welcomes in two new rookies to the offensive line room in Zion Johnson and Jamaree Salyer. Having just been in their shoes a season ago, Slater explained the advice he's given the new linemen.
"Just trust themselves," he said. "The same thing that got them here is what is going to allow them to continue to succeed, so they can't lose sight of that in all of this. They have to be able to trust in their technique, trust in what brought them here and just keep their heads down and work. They'll get their opportunity come camp. Just let it ride."
Slater also has a new teammate to go head-to-head with at this year's training camp in OLB Khalil Mack. Despite being on his honeymoon when he got the news Mack was acquired by the Bolts, Slater wasted no time taking the advice he got from head coach Brandon Staley.
"I think it was the day after that trade happened," he said. "I was on my honeymoon and Coach Staley had texted me, 'Get your mind right,' or something like that [laughter]. I'm trying to enjoy this right now, but I'll be ready [laughter]."
In fact, he even started taking reps right on the beach as Slater's wife, Stassney, backed the claim up with video proof on Monday.
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