Best of Chargers Rookies
Browse through photos of the 2017 Bolts rookies.
The Chargers’ 2017 season was a wild ride.
After an 0-4 start, the team knew they couldn’t waste any time righting the ship, ultimatel, looking to some of their youngest players for big-time contributions.
They delivered, putting their names on the map in 2017 to help the team finish with a 9-7 record.
But it wasn’t always easy.
“The mental part of the game was more challenging,” Austin Ekeler said. “Applying all of our scheme that we go through during the week to the field (and with) the speed of the game, it’s definitely something that I improved on but still need to get better at.”
“This was a learning curve for me,” added Rayshawn Jenkins. “I had to get adjusted to a lot. I was fortunate to have some older guys in my room who were professionals. They just really went about their days with a purpose and process. It was cool to learn from those guys.”
Similar to Jenkins, Dan Feeney credits the vested veterans in the offensive line room for helping him acclimate to life as a starter after Matt Slauson was placed on the Reserve-Injured list in Week 8.
“As a rookie coming in, you obviously want to help the team as much as you can,” the rookie guard said. “When Matt went down, it was definitely tough. But, I had big shoes to fill. I was trying to get in there, protect Phil (Rivers), make some holes for Melvin (Gordon) and do what I can. Matt, Kenny (Wiggins) and Russell (Okung) have been great leaders and they’ve definitely helped me step up into the role with ease.”
One of the biggest adjustments for the rookies came with getting acclimated to their new job. While some of their peers graduated college and work a nine to five, these players lived their new job 24-seven.
“Coming from college to here, (you think,) ‘Okay, it’s a step up,’” Feeney mentioned. “ But then you get here and it’s all football, all day. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But it’s a big mental step up; you’re reading blitzes, you’ve got to see techniques. There are other guys you pretty much become a stalker of because you need to see what they’re doing.”
“It was weird because for the first time in my life, I didn’t have to wake up and go to class!” Jenkins admitted. “That’s all I remember doing for however many years. It was just weird but I loved it, because it was something I wanted to do. I just wanted to get up and do football all day. But, it was a weird transition.”
Despite having to mature in a hurry to help the team win six of their last seven games, these players finished the 2017 wiser and ready to take on 2018. They even passed along some sage advice that could help the newest Chargers come spring.
“Keep studying!” Ekeler said. “Keep studying. If you think you’re studying now, study more, just because of that mental part. It’s a giant challenge. You can learn it, that’s one thing. But then applying it to actual moving parts is the biggest challenge.”
“This season was a rollercoaster,” Feeney added. “Starting out 0-4 then coming back hot. You never really know what’ll spark a team, and we got a spark and were rolling. You’re in it for the long haul so stay focused, stay committed to it and it’ll come.”