Hear what the Bolts had to say on the final day of training camp:
1. Head coach Brandon Staley on ending practice with a punt return competition between the offense and defense:
"It was time to have some fun. I think that our guys earned it. This was the last practice before the end of the preseason. I thought that our guys, number one, had a really good practice. Two, just looking back and reflecting on training camp, I think that it was a job well done by everyone here — coaches, players, staff. It was that perfect sweet spot to earn an opportunity to have some fun at the end of practice. We certainly had some fun there."
2. Staley on the week between the end of preseason games and the start of the regular season:
"I think that it's smart by the NFL. You guys have probably heard about getting your team back, physically — I think that it's a great way to get your team back physically, get ahead on the plan and still have that healthy Chargers vs. Chargers competition, too. You don't want to get so ahead on the gameplan for Washington that you take your own team for granted. We'll still be able to compete, Chargers on Chargers, and start to get ahead on the plan for Washington."
3. Staley on the kicking competition
"I've enjoyed watching it unfold. From an operation standpoint, I think that [LS Matt] Overton and [P] Ty Long have been exceptional. Those guys have kind of gotten into a rhythm together so that we can get a clean evaluation of the kickers. From an operational standpoint, it's even. Those two have brought the best out in one another. [K Michael] Badgley's professionalism, his experience, has really rubbed off on [K] Tristan [Vizcaino]. Then, Tristan has rubbed off on Mike in a positive way, too, because he brings something different to the table than Mike does. I think that they both get pushed in different ways. From a pure production standpoint, I think that they both had quality preseasons. ... We're going to take this down to the end and they're both going to get to kick this weekend. We're excited to see them finish."
4. Defensive tackle Christian Covington on Staley
"Brother is smart. Coach Staley knows the ins and outs. It's also nice to have a coach with an entirely defensive mindset. Biasedly, to see what he's been able to put into this team defensively has been tremendous. The passion that he gives and the intelligence he brings to this table is a new energy. It's my first year with this team, but it's been a breath of fresh air just to see what he's doing at the helm."
5. Safety Alohi Gilman on mastering a new defensive scheme
"It's a heavy playbook, but mastering it just takes a lot of composure and patience. Coach Staley and the staff did a good job of teaching us this offseason by concept. Which is a big deal because everything's connected. I did a good job and I feel good about my studying and applying it on the field. Now it's just a matter of growing on it and getting better every day."
6. Staley on safety Derwin James Jr.
"There aren't many players like him in the league on any side of the ball. There aren't many players like Derwin James because you have rare talent. Rare talent. Rare size and speed, which are critical factors for the position. He has rare skills for the position. He can do anything on the field and play anywhere. He's your signal-caller. I'm not aware of any other DBs in the league that are the signal caller. You can make the case that he's the leader of our entire football team and the face of your football team — certainly one of them. I haven't been around too many guys like that regardless of the position. Normally, it's quarterbacks. Derwin is one of the few defensive players, that I'm aware of, in the league that can carry that mantle."
7. Covington on defensive tackle Linval Joseph
"LJ is the man. When you have a veteran like him on a team like this, any wisdom he can impart on us is huge. It's critical. You can learn a lot from him on and off the field based on his approach to the game, as a true professional. To have him on this defensive line has been outstanding. He's first and foremost a great teammate, and a great ball player."
8. Gilman on his role in defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill's scheme
"It's different. Coach Staley does a good job of using a lot of personnel groupings. Using our players to the best of their abilities. He moves Derwin a lot so that frees my role up. It gives me opportunities to play different positions on the field. It's something I'm excited about. I'm ready to go."
9. Staley on making roster cuts
"I think it's going to be tough on us because we have enough depth at some positions where you're going to have to make difficult decisions — which is a good thing for your organization. I'm proud of the way that our guys have competed and that they've made it really tough on us. That competition has been really healthy. No matter what happens, we're going to be really proud of the way we organized this camp."
10. Staley on what he's looking for in the preseason finale
"I think it's such an important question. I don't know if change your mind is quite the right way of looking at it, but confirming what's in your mind, I think? I think people can do that one way or the other. I think that any time you get a chance to compete that you get to represent who you are. I think what we're trying to do is give our guys a game plan where, if there are some questions that we have, that we're able to get them answered. When we put in the plan for this preseason game, a lot of it is just getting the guys in the right seats so we can get that final evaluation. Okay, let's run a couple of plays for these guys to see how they do. On defense, let's put these guys in some tough positions defensively to see them cover and see them rush. If we're having to make a couple of tough decisions, let's give them one more shot at it in the return game and kickers. It's just that last part of it just so that we can feel good about what we already think."
Check out the best photos from the Bolts Thursday practice at Hoag Performance Center.
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