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Transcript - Practice (Aug. 27, 2018)

Monday, August 27, 2018 | Hoag Performance Center | Costa Mesa, Calif.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR GUS BRADLEY

Opening Statement:

"We just had a chance to go through all of the tape with our players earlier this morning. We had a good session there. As far as a recap of the game, the first two preseason games we didn't start off really strong, but I felt like we started off pretty strong here. We really had three three-and-outs and then the fake punt — we didn't respond well after that sudden-change opportunity. Prior to that, I liked the energy of the defense and how we came out. There were some good plays throughout the first half. I think in third down percentage we were pretty good. In the second half, it got a little sloppy. We came out in the second half and, right away, had a good three-and-out, but then you saw some inconsistent play that we need to clean up — especially with these guys that are going to have the opportunity on Thursday. We have to clean those things up to ensure that we're better in this game against San Francisco."

On the defensive depth:

"Our twos have been playing pretty good in the first two preseason games — because of some guys not playing, some of those twos moved up with the ones and it has kind of went from there. Regardless of who is playing, there are guys that have made a lot of plays out there. In that second half, it just wasn't up to our standards."

On the run defense:

"It has been good. We have seen some different runs [this preseason]. Obviously, going against our offense and the style of runs they have versus some of the teams that we're seeing. I think we've gotten a good mix of runs. I think it's better. We did miss quite a few tackles this game. I think in the first preseason game there was two. We would like to keep [the missed tackles] to that single-digit number. There was some sloppiness in the second half and some missed tackles that showed up. I think, because we got into some second-and-twos and gave that team the opportunity to no longer be in a run-pass conflict. I think the first group did a pretty good job against the run. I think we're understanding our fits. [S] Derwin [James] got a chance to play some in there. He's still figuring it out with some of the different things that he is seeing, but he is definitely making progress."

On S Derwin James and S Jahleel Addae playing together:

"This really was the first game that we did it. We wanted to see how they would operate. We feel extremely confident with Jahleel at strong safety. This kind of gave us an opportunity to see him at free and to give Derwin more reps at strong — more game-like situations. I think the more that they play together, we will see how that continues to grow. We are still in the process of looking at where, who and going through that. I think those are our discussions this week."

On the flexibility of both being able to play both safety positions:

"It does [help us] in certain situations. Without a doubt."

On players needing reps in the preseason:

"You want guys to play. We would like to have them all play, come out of it healthy and get that game experience. It's one of those things unfortunately because of some of the injuries. I think we look at it and go, 'Yeah, we wish they could have played, but it's fortunate that they're not out for extended periods of time.' We'll take that positive, I guess. You'd like to see them play and get their opportunities, even if it's 15 or 20 reps."

On Derwin James:

"He's doing well. You're right, we are [moving him around a lot]. We're trying to see how he handles different situations. I think the big thing that we're looking at now is, let's start making decisions and building continuity. It is important who you're playing next to, how can you trust them and how they are going to relate to different things in the game than you are. I think that, right now, our mindset is to say, 'Alright, let's go back, look at tape and kind of discuss all of the different situations, scenarios of putting this thing together.' Then start building some continuity in these practices that we have."

On James' preparation:

"You know what, I would have no issue with Derwin James playing. I think there is going to be a learning curve. I think he's going to go out there and he'll make a mistake here and there, but he will also make some splash plays. Just like the play in the game. You saw him make a great play and then there's a play [later] where you go, 'Okay let's teach on this fit.' There might be some coaching on the sideline if that takes place on some plays, but he has gradually gotten better. You can see his confidence growing in the system. If he makes a mistake, now he knows. He'll come over and go, 'That was on me.' I couldn't say that a couple of weeks ago."

On James' role in Week 1:

"That's what we're looking at right now. We can't show our hand too much."

On LB Kyzir White:

"He's another one — we've moved him around quite a bit, too. He's played the Mike and the Will. He played the Mike in Dime and the Will in Nickel. I thought he played good, not great, in the game. That's kind of coming out of the game. Then you looked at him [on film] and he kind of did what he was supposed to do. [There were] no really splash plays. He had a good open-field tackle. Here, we don't take that for granted. He's making some plays like that. I just think, with him, he's getting it, he understands it and [has] that length and size that he provides for us at that speed."

On DL Justin Jones:

"We'd like to [get him on the field this week]. I have not talked to the trainers to see where he is today. I know [he's improving] every week. He did some individual [drills] last week. I guess we'll wait to see what they tell me after today."

On defensive line depth:

"We have our fingers crossed. I don't know what's going to take place this game, but we have our fingers crossed for the first game [of the season] that we should be okay."

On James:

"He has high energy. I see him as a natural leader. I think as he gains confidence in what he's doing, it will even be more, but he's already talking. When you come off the field, he's talking to the guys, 'Hey, that's not good enough. This is good enough. This is what we're looking to do. That's a great job by the d-line.' He's very animated. He has a lot of energy. I think that personality will show more when he gains even more confidence in the system."

On if James' demeanor is like a typical rookie:

"No. I think, sometimes on tape, you see some things where you know he's young. His overall maturity? No."

On James' leadership:

"I think he is a natural leader. I think he's finding his place, but at times he can't help himself. That's who he is. He leads. I love his personality. He has a great spirit about him."

On the impact of James' energy:

"I think [it matters] if it's real confidence. You want an extremely confident unit that goes out onto the field. That energy breathes confidence, I think, if it's real. We all know guys that talk out there and don't do much or don't play as much as they should. That doesn't do anything. I think it's the combination. If you're making plays — like [WR] Keenan Allen had a great block on a run play and everybody was excited for it. They know Keenan and what he's all about, and then he goes and does that. That brings tremendous energy to a team. I think Derwin has that presence, too, because he is so big and and physical. When he has a hit, people know how explosive he is and I think that raises the energy level."

On what guys on the roster bubble can do this final week of the preseason:

"I think the big thing for them is if they can keep this game from being a distraction. If they go out there and go, 'I'm on the bubble. This is my chance. What happens if I don't do well? What happens if I do well? How many guys are behind me?' If they do that, they generally don't play very well. If they can just go out there and really play how they practice and go about it that way, we've had many guys [because of] this last game make the team. We've also had guys, because of this game, not make the team. Generally, the ones that don't make it that are on the bubble, they are just really distracted. That was our message to our guys. [We said], 'Hey, I know there are a lot of things going on with this game. It's another game. It's a great opportunity for you. Your mindset going into it has to be clear. What do you need to accomplish?' Many of them, if they would just play up to their capabilities, they'll be in good shape — the ones that are on the bubble."

On how veterans help players on the bubble this week:

"I think not only vets, but the coaching staff. A guy like [Assistant Defensive Line Coach] Eric Henderson on our staff. He played, he was on the bubble and he can relate to them. Anybody that can relate to them can say, 'Okay, here's what I did and this is what I did wrong.' The veterans are great. They've been awesome this whole preseason. We'll even need them more this game."

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR KEN WHISENHUNT

On expectations for the offense during the last preseason game:

"I think we'll get a chance to evaluate some more of our players. This is a critical week for a lot of these guys and I think the big thing is with some of the veteran guys who are not going to play — they can still be involved and help. There will be a couple of these guys that make the team this weekend and that's a big thing."

On RB Detrez Newsome competing for a roster spot as backup running back:

"Well, we have a number of guys who are in contention for that spot. I think that Detrez has done a good job for himself as far as getting better as the preseason has gone on. We'll get an opportunity to see some of these guys as we've had some injuries. We'd like to see [RB] Justin [Jackson] and see how he can perform this week. Hopefully, we'll be able to see that. That position [running back] is one that I think some things can be determined in this game." 

On Newsome's skillset:

"Well, every one of them is different. If you look at [RB] Austin [Ekeler] and you look at [RB] Melvin [Gordon III], those are two guys that are different. I think he [Newsome] has done a good job from where he started to the improvement he's made every week — and he's made some big plays. It's always great to see young guys develop that way and kudos to him."

On RB Austin Ekeler:

"I guess he was ready to go. In that position, to step in there and play the way he did —we've seen Austin make good plays for us and run well. For the third preseason [game] and to see him to do that, it was nice."

On the offensive line:

"The offensive line has done a good job consistently through [training] camp and this summer. I think the chemistry with that group has been good. We've been fortunate that they've all been able to play together for all of preseason. It was good to see us have some success with those guys [offensive line]. There's obviously some confidence with that group. Success in this game, in large part, is confidence. It was good to be able to do that for those first two [offensive] series."

On WR Mike Williams as a red zone threat:

"Well, I think he [Mike Williams] has shown us throughout the course of camp all of the different things that he can do. Whether it's running a shallow [route], whether it's running a curl [route]. You [also] felt like he can [get] some of the balls down the field and make the contested catches, but some of the crossing routes and type of things, you didn't really see him do a lot of those in college. I think he's expanded his ability to line up in different spots and do different things. Now as far as red zone, that's all going to be specific based upon what the opponent's doing to you and trying to create matchups down there. It's good when you have a number of guys who can be flexible. That goes back to what we like the most about Mike. If you said, 'Coming into this summer, it was Mike lines up in one spot and what does he do? You throw him the ball, he jumps up and catches it.' I think now, he's lined up in a bunch of different spots and has done different assignments. So you can't just say, 'Mike's going to line up on the right side and they're going to throw him the jump ball.' He might run a cross route, he might run a shallow [route], or he might line up in the slot. There's a lot different places that he can appear — and that's good because he's a big guy that does a nice job who goes up and gets the ball. That's a valuable commodity in the red zone."

On Mike Williams' development as a route runner:

"I think he [Mike] really worked at it. I think that some of it is that his confidence has improved as he's been able to make some plays. We've had a couple of different guys in camp, whether it was [WR] Tyrell [Williams] or [WR] Travis [Benjamin] who missed a little bit of time. When that happened, he [Mike] has had to fill in some different spots and that's probably been good for him. If you think about all of the different spots that [WR] Keenan [Allen] lines up in — when he does that, then the other guys need to move around and play other spots. We've been able to manage that with our group because they are smart and work really hard at it. Mike's been able to fit into that mentality and ultimately it helps."

On WR Keenan Allen making a notable block during the preseason:

"I think it really sets the tone for the team when you have an unselfish guy who does that. He's a competitor and really showed how important it is to him. That in turn, makes a difference for our team and offense. It was good to see that."

On the injury risk in the preseason:

"There's always things you can do off of that. One time he [Keenan Allen] blocks, or one time you do a play-action off it. We have been able to mix those things up. In that position, you are required to block. Good running football teams and teams that have success, their receivers take it upon themselves to be good blockers and our guys have worked hard at that. Keenan has been a leader from that standpoint and has always been a good blocker. That can help us. You try to reward them by giving them different things [to work] off that, whether it's a play-action where he [Keenan Allen] has a cross [route], or even some of the sets that look like run sets. [Especially], where he's able to make some plays. It's a good mix and you continue to grow and build on those things." 

 On any clear standouts from the third preseason game against New Orleans:

"I think there were a lot of guys from that first group. In the first two drives, there wasn't a lot to complain about. We had a lot of different guys, whether it was behind with [FB] Derek Watt making a couple of good blocks. Or if it was Austin [Ekeler]. Of course, [QB] Philip [Rivers] always plays well with receivers blocking. After that, as it happens a lot of times when you're playing with different guys, we had some guys that did well in spurts, but over the course of the game, with the way it went, it was hard to single out anyone. That's what this week is for. This is a big week for some of these guys to really show where they are." 

On OL Zack Golditch:

"He's improving, that's one of the things. If you had to say anything about Zack, it is from where he started to where he is now, he has gotten better. He has played a number of different positions for us and that's not always easy. I think his competitiveness is something that really stands out. You like what you see from him in that standpoint. Flexibility is another thing. When you look at that position, if you're not going to be the starter — then what type of value do you have as a potential guard/tackle? Can you do both of those positions? He has lined up at both of those spots during the course of camp. [Offensive Line] Coach [Pat] Meyer has done a great job at putting [Golditch] at different spots in order to try and assess where he is as player — and you need to give Zack credit for working hard to get better. He's just another one of those guys who has improved from the start of [training] camp. This game will be big for him. It will be a way to show some consistency and how he competes over a number of plays." 

On Golditch' story surrounding the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting:

"It's an incredible story. To have gone through that [movie theater shooting] and to be in the NFL with a chance to be on the team — it's an incredible story. I think it gives you a great perspective on life and it's great to see him competing and being here with us."

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