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Three Takeaways: Brandon Staley on the Start of OTAs

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The third phase of the 2021 NFL offseason program is officially here.

Monday was the first day of organized team activities, or OTAs as they are more commonly known, for the Los Angeles Chargers.

Though he was able to get on the field with the rookies a couple weeks ago, Monday was also the first opportunity for head coach Brandon Staley to get on the field with the Bolts' full squad.

Here are three key takeaways on the start of OTAs from Staley.

The Return of Derwin James

It was a welcomed sight at Hoag Performance Center to see No. 33 back out on the field.

Derwin James was recently fully cleared to return to practice after the knee injury he suffered last year in training camp caused him to miss the entire 2020 season.

Staley elaborated on what it was like seeing the safety return to action.

"He looks great. He sounds great. As you know, one of his strengths as a football player is his leadership and that energy that he gives everybody each and every day. You can see he's a multiplier out there. From the minute I got hired, I met this guy at our press conference and I felt better about our chances. When he's out there, our chances increase by a whole bunch … He's had a tremendous offseason, he looks great and looking forward to a lot more for him."

Justin Herbert: "Impressive" & "Off and Running"

We know what Justin Herbert did in his rookie season as the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year made his mark in 2020.

But Monday marked the first time the QB and new coaching staff went from the virtual meetings to in-person on the field.

Staley was impressed with what he saw from No. 10.

"Justin's a big part of the operation in terms of his command in and out of the huddle and I think that's going to be a hallmark of how we play … I thought he was really impressive. There was one (play) in particular that I felt like really demonstrates that he's got the capacity that you guys are all aware of from an identification standpoint of something we do defensively that we feel like is tough to pick up, and he picked it up practice No. 1. He's off and running."

Adjustments to the OTA Model

This part of the offseason program is where a total of 10 days' worth of actual on-field work is permitted. This includes 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills, however, no live contact is allowed.

But coming off of the fully virtual offseason program last year, many teams are making adjustments to OTAs and the Chargers are no different.

Staley said he and his coaching staff worked with the Bolts' player leadership council to eliminate physical 11-on-11 drills and shift them to walkthroughs instead.

"What we really wanted to do was create our standard for the offseason moving forward. The big thing from a sports science/sports performance standpoint is, all of our individual periods … that's going to be full speed. But we are not going to have any competitive one-on-ones in this camp. We're not going to have any competitive 11-on-11, it's all going to be walkthrough.

"What we're trying to do is create a game-like environment from a mental standpoint, where our guys can learn what to do, how to do it, (and) why it's important. We can have great tempo before the snap, but then after the snap, there isn't that pace that exists when you put shoulder pads and helmets on. That was a big goal of ours. We worked as a coaching staff extensively with our leadership council, and we really feel this is the model moving forward that's going to best-fit the Chargers."

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