Melvin Ingram said it best last year when he called the first day of pads the return to “grown man football.”
While the Los Angeles Chargers have been in camp the last couple days, it was kicked up a notch on Saturday for the team’s first padded practice.
After donning shells all spring, the moment has been a long time coming for vets and rookies alike.
“It felt great and way better just because I sat out the whole (regular season),” mentioned Hunter Henry, whose last time donning pads came in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. “I didn’t really have a practice where I got to hit or anything. So it’s going to be nice going into this season and having a full camp with everything kind of rolling. It felt good.”
“It’s still surreal to me!” added rookie safety Nasir Adderley. “It’s a blessing and I’m excited to be around such a great group of guys and great coaches and I’m excited to see what we’re building right here."
Damion Square alluded to the fact that one of the benefits of a day like Saturday for the younger players like Adderley is having a group of seasoned vets around them who know what Head Coach Anthony Lynn expects from them once the pads come on.
While it was a “smooth” day according to Square, the level of intensity was also ramped up.
Well, being in pads allows for more of that lifelike football action to take shape.
“You’re able to do more,” Henry said. “You’re playing real football. When you have helmets (and shells) on, it’s a little bit more (passive,) but when you have the pads on, you can really see the physical side of the game.”
“Especially in the interior because you can bring out things that you couldn’t do (in shells),” Square added. “You can pull different things out of your arsenal. You can play a little more physical and get ready for Sundays.”
And speaking of Sundays, wearing pads again is the precursor to preseason and regular-season play. Saturday was that first step to making the return of games feel that much more real.
“It makes it feel more real for sure,” Henry mentioned. “There are a lot of guys who can run around and look good in shorts and all that stuff. But when you have to hit somebody or you’re getting hit and different things like that, it’s good for everybody.”
“It does!” Adderley remarked. “I still can’t even believe we’re in training camp, it feels like this offseason has flown by and it was yesterday that I was drafted. But it’s all amazing and I’m trying to take everything in and take it day by day.”
Check out some of the best moments as the Bolts continue with training camp on Saturday, July 27, 2019.