Take a look at top quotes from Head Coach Brandon Staley, safety Derwin James, Jr. and running back Austin Ekeler before Wednesday's practice:
Head Coach Brandon Staley
On if he has discussed with the team the fact that they're beginning this season against the team that they ended last season against:
"Both teams are completely different than the team that was at that last game. If you look at their team, they have brand new coaches, brand new players, a brand new scheme. Same with us; over half of our team is different. I'm sure that that game is going to mean a lot to some of the people that were there, but it's not going to mean everything to everybody because there's a lot of people that weren't at that game. I think those of us who were at that game, that was as tough of a deal as you're going to face as a competitor, but there's just a lot that's happened since then. Competition is about moving forward and being ready for what's right in front of you. That's what we've been working hard at all offseason, all of training camp, getting ready for this week. This week has a life of its own and our team is ready to go take it on."
On 'where the defense is with all of the new pieces':
"Our defense has played at a really high level throughout training camp. I think we've been able to see a lot of different people fit the pieces in the right roles. I think, when we got Derwin [James Jr.] back, and some of those linebackers healthy, it allowed us to really practice and kind of optimize where we were headed for Week 1 and for the beginning of the season. I have full confidence in our group. At the same time, you have to be ready to go out there and figure it out. There's that element to the beginning where your guys have to figure it out together. The one thing I'm excited about this who I am figuring it out with. I really like who we're going to go compete with on Sunday."
On 'what makes the Raiders a great rival':
"Any time that you go back as far as this rivalry has, certainly this division, I think that I really like this part of the division, just how far it goes back with these teams. I think the history of the coaches, the history of the players, certainly with us being on the West Coast, it's important to a lot of different people here on the West Coast. Then, in terms of the NFL, I think the ingenuity of both organizations, I think that both organizations have had a real impact and footprint on the legacy of the NFL. I think that's also big. I'm really excited to be a part of it."
On his level of confidence in the special teams units:
"I have full confidence. [Special Teams Coordinator] Ryan Ficken and [Assistant Special Teams Coach] Chris Gould have done a really good job with this group. The preseason is about evaluation, and we were able to do that. I think, starting with our specialists, I really think that the additions of Josh Harris and bringing Dustin [Hopkins] back, getting JK [Scott], bringing DeAndre [Carter], that's a good place to start. Then, I think we have a lot deeper group of core special teams players. You will see starters on special teams. I'm excited to see what we do, but we've practiced well. Now, we have to go prove it on Sunday."
Safety Derwin James, Jr.
On 'how much the loss to the Raiders in Week 18 last year motivated the team in the offseason':
"For guys like Khalil Mack, Sebastian [Joseph-Day], they didn't get to feel that feeling that I felt in Week 18. Our whole mindset is that we are a new team, the 2022 Chargers. We're just trying to go out there and compete versus the Raiders."
On what makes the Raiders 'a difficult cover':
"Their level two and their level three [receivers]. Just at the top of the route, being able to make everything kind of look the same. They have multi-cut guys. We just have to be ready."
On if 'it's a blessing or a curse for the AFC West to be good':
"A blessing. If you consider yourself the best, why not play against the best? It's a blessing to be able to go out there, play them two times a year. It's going to be fun."
On facing a divisional opponent in Week 1:
"Whether it's the Raiders, the Chiefs or the Broncos, we have to line up and play. It really doesn't matter. We have to play them all. We're excited that it's the Raiders, but it really doesn't matter if it was the Chiefs or the Broncos. It doesn't matter. We have to go out and play when the game kicks off."
Running Back Austin Ekeler
On if this season is 'playoffs or bust':
"I'm not even thinking about playoffs. We have to beat the Raiders this week. I think the journey of our season will play out whether we earn the right to go to the playoffs or not. We have to earn that, and so that comes from a result of our work week in and week out."
On if there's more 'excitement' that the Raiders are the opponent:
"Man you know, with not being able to play in preseason games, I'm like, 'I don't care who it is'. I've been watching all my other teammates compete and as a competitor I'm like itching to get out there and compete myself. I know a lot of the other guys are too. Actually, [Offensive Coordinator] [Joe] Lombardi said this morning, 'Let's not let the first game jitters get us all in a weird funk. Let's make sure we stay to ourselves and stay true'. But, definitely ready to get out there and get the pads on, for real this time."
On approach to opener since Raiders have a new defensive coordinator:
"It's tough going against a new coordinator because you don't know what to expect. We've been looking at Giants film, we've been looking at Raiders film because it's Raiders personnel with some type of twist on it as far as new defensive coordinator. We've seen a lot of stuff, I've seen a lot of ball. We got a lot of veterans on the offense so we're pretty much ready to take on any type of front that comes at us. Football is the same. It could be five downs, four downs, maybe switch personnel around, as long as we communicate we'll be fine and we'll be able to execute."
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