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Tom Pelissero: The Chargers Are as Talented as Any Team I've Seen


Tom Pelissero has made one of his favorite stops on his training camp tour.

The NFL Network Insiders was in Costa Mesa this week to get an inside look at the Bolts.

We caught up with Pelissero to talk all things Chargers:

Training camp is a time for optimism for all 32 NFL teams. But what is your No. 1 reason for optimism with the Bolts?

"I was [on TV] with Daniel Jeremiah and Leslie Frazier and we all kept saying the same thing. You look on the field and you don't see a whole lot of things that they're missing to be competing, not just in the AFC West, but to be a Super Bowl-type of contender. They add another big-bodied wide receiver and now you have four dudes who can be mismatches at that position. You have Austin Ekeler back, Justin Herbert got paid but you expect him to continue to improve. Rashawn Slater barely even played last year. J.C. Jackson barely even played last year. Joey Bosa didn't play for a good chunk of the season. Khalil Mack is healthier now. Derwin James, too. There's so much star power on the team.

"And despite all the challenges they had last year, including Justin Herbert playing through that rib injury, they still went 10-7 and were in position to close out a playoff game. I know Brandon Staley tackled that head on in the first meeting of training camp this year in terms of how that game against Jacksonville can sort of propel them and be a motor for them going forward here.

"Whether that happens depends on a lot of factors, including health. And you have a new OC in Kellen Moore. But in terms of just the talent Tom Telesco has put together, it's fair to say they are as talented as any team I've seen so far in training camp."

Check out the best photos from the tenth day of Training Camp 2023 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa!

You mention Brandon and working to bounce back from the playoff loss. How intrigued are people nationally to see how the Chargers respond from that?

"I think, nationally, there's a hyper focus on how the last two seasons have ended for the Chargers. Frankly, the Chargers haven't had a ton of primetime games and they're oftentimes playing those mid-afternoon kickoffs when 75 percent of the country has the Cowboys on. So, what you think of the Chargers … if you just see them in those little spots … is how those games ended. What you miss is that they've been leading the Chiefs in the fourth quarter of their games and they're up 27-0 in a playoff game.

"If you focus on the growth from Year 1 to Year 2 to Year 3, there's no question they have the best team they've had. And in their minds, they've upgraded significantly at some of the coaching positions. Let's roll the ball out there because personnel-wise, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to compete at a really high level, which will allow people to see more of you and showcase that growth."

You mentioned the coaching changes. What vibe did you get on how Kellen Moore has impacted the organization?

"Well, the first thing I was told here about Kellen is how good his relationship and communication have been with Justin. That's going to be one of the most important relationships for this team. But he has a lot of fun stuff to play with with all those wide receivers and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he finds ways to get all four of them out there on the field together. He's got Austin Ekeler, who looks really good right now.

"And that line, once Rashawn got hurt last year, they were slapping it together. Now with Rashawn lining up with Zion Johnson, I wouldn't want to be going against the left side of that line. Kellen is very creative and he's got an high football IQ. He's still a young coach who's still going through his own growth process, but the stars had to align for him to leave Dallas and it was perfect timing for the Chargers in their OC search. Brandon Staley and Kellen have a really good relationship as well. It's August and they haven't played games yet, but everything is positive on that front right now."

Check out the best photos from the eleventh day of Training Camp 2023 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa!

What's a position you've heard could make a bigger impact than people are talking about right now?

"Eric Kendricks' arrival. You and I were both with him in Minnesota. Just a good, solid individual. Can bring a lot to the room and can still play. He's always in great shape. But the other guy I've been told has had a great camp is Kenneth Murray. He's a guy, you look at him, and he's built the way you want a linebacker to be built. He's another guy who could be impactful.

"And then there's some other guys. What's J.C. Jackson going to be? He's doing individual and not team stuff yet, but everything I've heard in terms of how he looks … you wouldn't think he's coming off a significant injury. That was a big-time, high-priced free agent 17 months ago that you didn't really get to see. Now he joins the mix with guys like Asante Samuel and Derwin James on the back end. Again, there's so much star power on this time. But a bunch of it at various times last season wasn't even available."

Final question for you. Look ahead to late January, where are the Chargers going to be at?

"It's all out there in front of them and that's the great mystery of all of this. The No. 1 thing is going to be the division. The Chiefs have won it however many years it a row and are the defending Super Bowl champions. They've got the reigning MVP and the reigning Super Bowl MVP. The [Chargers] have almost had them, but it's another thing to actually finish them off. Those games, definitely in the AFC, are the ones I'm most excited to watch this fall. You're talking about a guy who might be the greatest player we've ever seen play the position. And another guy, even after just getting paid, has come out motivated to show that he might be able to challenge for that throne."

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