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Transcript - Rookie Mini Camp (May 10, 2019)


Friday, May 10, 2019 | Hoag Performance Center | Costa Mesa, Calif.


On the first practice of rookie minicamp:

"It was good to be back out there doing an organized practice, watching guys compete and run around a little bit. It's the first time we've laid eyes on some of these guys. It was good to see them."

On S Nasir Adderley:

"He looked good, but you know right now that everyone's head is spinning. These guys, they have to get obsessed with learning this system and these schemes so that they can play to their true ability — but right now, their heads are spinning."

On DT Jerry Tillery:

"He's on track. We don't like to put a timetable on injuries, but he's on track. He's doing well."

On what the rookies should focus on during minicamp:

"Learn, get with a veteran when they get back here on Monday and learn how to be a pro. These guys, they're new employees. They have veteran guys to take them under their wings and teach them the ropes."

On the importance of rookies learning from veterans:

"That's the quickest way to get these guys to fit in here. We talked about that a little bit this morning in the team meeting — the type of players that we like to bring on campus here. I think our locker room speaks for itself. When those guys get here on Monday, I think that's the quickest way to get these [rookies] going — tie their identity to one of these pros, hang out with them, watch them, see what they do and how they go about their business. Like I said, learn how to be a pro and grow up."

On what the team added in the draft process:

"Like you said, I like the team that we had before the draft, but I also think that we added some key pieces."

On coaching the rookies chasing their dreams:

"It's an honor and it's a privilege to be here at the beginning of their careers and watch them grow as young men and football players, no doubt."

On the rookies being 'bright-eyed and bushy-tailed':

"Absolutely, they're willing to do whatever it takes."

On the rookies balancing the responsibility of the minicamp:

"Unfortunately, there's no balance right now. I told these guys, 'You're not here to wear Chargers hoodies and walk around the South Coast Plaza mall.' Every hour, every minute is dedicated to that playbook — and if not that playbook, then your position coach."

On the importance of off-field work during rookie minicamp:

"The meeting times, yeah that's all important, but you have to get them out there [on the field] and let them go through it. A lot of guys, they learn better from being on the field. A lot of our meetings have moved to the practice field. Our coaches were doing a good job of that this morning."

On Tillery's off-field work:

"He can't even put a helmet on, go out and be with his teammates right now. The classroom is critical for him and video, too."

On if Tillery has run laps for mistakenly referring to Lynn as 'Coach Swan':

"No, we have another arrangement for that. It's called sacks."

On if any veterans talked to the rookies today:

"[T] Russell Okung was here today for a little while. [NT Brandon] Mebane was in the building today for a little while. [WR] Keenan Allen was here today for a little while. Yes, [the rookies] spoke with them a little bit individually, but that's about it."

On the biggest message to the rookies:

"I told these guys, we have a talented football team. For a rookie to come in here and win a starting job — that's going to be hard to do. They're going to have to create some value, and that's special teams. We look at play counts after games. How many plays did this guy have and how many plays did he have? Special teams is the quickest way to do that. I try to get those guys to understand that because a lot of those guys, they've never played teams before. They've always been the five-star [recruit] and the All-American in college. Now, for the first time in their life, they're going to have to play teams. That's going to be important for us this year. I thought our special teams took another step [last year]. I thought we got better, but with some of these guys that we brought in, we had that in mind as well."

On QB Easton Stick:

"He looked good, especially on the move. I liked some of the things that he did. I thought he had a good day."

On the importance of the reps for Stick this weekend:

"All of the reps are important for all of those guys, but for him being a quarterback and all of the communication that he has to do at the line of scrimmage, it's big for him right now to get this in."

On T Trey Pipkins working at left tackle:

"We just started him there at left tackle. I think Russell [Okung] can be a big-time mentor for him at that position and help his development come along."

On Stick working under center:

"You know, he was under center probably more than a lot of these quarterbacks in college. He had no problems today underneath center. He was fine. Like I said, I liked the way that he moved around a little bit in the pocket."

On what he looks for in tryout players:

"Just come in here. It doesn't matter how you get here — draft pick, free agent, tryout — just come in here and do your job. Coaches take notice of that."

On DE Patrick Afriye working as an off-ball linebacker:

"We're trying to create a little more versatility for Patrick to see if he can play that outside linebacker for us — we call OTTO. That's why he's in this rookie minicamp."


On how it felt to practice today:

"It felt great. Especially given my pre-draft process. I was banged up a little bit. Now, fully healthy, I was running around with all the guys wearing a Chargers uniform. It's really amazing."

On the rain and if he was concerned with his hamstring:

"No not at all. I was just taking advantage of the opportunity and just trying to go out there, compete and have a lot of fun."

On becoming a pro:

"I'm only focused on being a pro and talking with some of the older guys to try and learn the ropes. Just focusing on the task at hand. Right now, I'm just focused on mastering the playbook and that's what I'm devoting a lot of my time to. I'm trying to stay locked in, engage and make sure I'm doing what I'm supposed to do."

On talking with any of the defensive backs:

"I've talked to a couple of them when they were sitting in the locker room before we headed out to meetings. [CB] Casey Hayward [Jr.] was in there, [S] Rayshawn Jenkins, [S] Adrian Phillips. I talked to them a little bit."  

On what advice the veterans gave:

"Take it one day at a time. Especially coming in, just be ready to learn. It may seem like a lot, but just take it one day at a time."

On the comparison between the playbook from Delaware to the Chargers:

"At my college, we played — my freshman and sophomore year — we played a 4-3, man scheme where I played corner. Then we had a coaching change and we moved to a 3-4 quarter scheme when I moved to free safety. It's a little bit different. Here we play a lot of 3-deep, man principles. It's different because we're playing a 4-3 again. It was a little bit of a refresher, but I feel really good about the system. [Defensive Backs] Coach [Ron] Milo [Milus] does a great job breaking down everything and simplifying it. He allows you to play fast. That's something I really love and am excited about."

On what he expects to learn from his teammates:

"What better group to learn from? Just all across the board. I'm excited to pick their brains and find out what they do on and off the field so I can improve my brain." 

On the difference on this transition from high school to college:

"It's a lot more attention to detail with the alignments. It's just a lot more attention to detail. It's something I'm ready for and it's something I'm going to make sure I key in on."

On camaraderie between the rookie class:

"It's good. Even when we first went out there, everybody was excited to compete. We know, ultimately, that's how we're going to make this camp efficient. That's how we're going to make plays. That's how we're going to stop the offense, by coming together and I think we all understand that."

On focusing and eliminating distractions:

"That's something I've always done. I've always blocked it out because at the end of the day, my whole perception is everyone is going to have an opinion — whether that's positive or negative. If you get too caught up in either one of those, it can lead to your downfall. I just focus on making sure I'm doing everything I can do. Controlling the controllable and doing all the little things to make sure I'm the best player I can be."

On fitting in with the defensive backs:

"My thing is, it's important to be yourself. That's something I'm going to do. I'm going to come in, I'm going to compete and do what I'm supposed to do. I'm a laid-back kind of guy, but on the field I'm an aggressor. I'm competitive, I'm talkative, so I'm just going to be myself and let it play out."


On Head Coach Anthony Lynn describing the rookies heads as 'spinning':

"Yeah, [mine is] definitely spinning. There's a lot of information, quick, but that's to be expected. That's the exciting part, that there is a lot to learn and I'm in a great spot to do that, obviously. I'm looking forward to continuing to learn and, hopefully at some point, it starts slowing down."

On if the information is overwhelming:

"I wouldn't say overwhelming. Obviously, it is a lot and it's a new environment. You're around new guys so you're getting into the huddle and you met a guy five minutes ago. It's just a different dynamic. I think it goes back to — obviously, you have a lot to do as far as studying and getting yourself prepared, but also reaching out and getting to know guys so you can walk into a huddle, you know what's going on and you have relationships built with guys. That will just come with time."

On his personal goals for rookie minicamp:

"I think, as a rookie, it's just about learning — listening more than you're talking — and working your tail off. If you do those two things, listening and working hard, hopefully you earn the respect of the guys that have been here for a long time. You can kind of follow their lead and, like you said, just kind of learn the culture. Hopefully, things start slowing down that way."

On the adjustment to the playbook:

"You know, there are some similarities, but it's a brand new language — just learning how to speak it, what you're calling things and just controlling everything at the line of scrimmage. Obviously, at the quarterback position, that's a big part of it. You know what you're doing in getting the ball to the right spot, but also making sure everybody else is where they need to be. Just learning the language and going from there."

On the value of this weekend for him:

"I think it's huge, especially going into next week and you're on the guys. They're into this thing, they're rolling and they're ready to push it forward. This weekend is huge for all of us to soak up as much as we can, get our feet wet and take advantage of those reps. Like you said, the way I'm approaching it is that it's just an opportunity to learn. We'll see how quickly I can learn to just speak the language so that I can just sit in the room, speak and understand what's going on — then start to translate it out there on the grass."

On learning and preparing early in his career:

"That was something at school that I took pride in and definitely is something that I'll try to do here. I think it's just about putting the time in, being disciplined with that and being intentional with what you're trying to get out of that moment. Continuing that and also just learning from the guys that have been here for a long time. Obviously, [QB] Philip [Rivers] and the quarterback room is a great room — but also from other guys that have played a long time, seeing what they've done to be successful and trying to learn the culture."

On if he has spoken to QB Philip Rivers:

"You know, he sent me a text after the draft. That was cool. I really appreciated that. I haven't gotten a chance to meet him yet, so I'm looking forward to meeting him and, really, all of the guys."

On the text Rivers sent him:

"Just, 'Congrats and looking forward to getting you here.' That was cool."

On if it's surreal to be where he is:

"You know, I guess a little bit. If you step back and look at it, this is everybody's dream that plays this sport, to be here. When you take a step back and get a little perspective on it, yeah it's pretty ridiculous — but at the same time, you work really hard to get here. There's that aspect, too, where [you say], 'I've worked hard and this is what I wanted,' and here's your opportunity. Now, I'm just trying to do the most with it."

On if he's talked to Eagles QB Carson Wentz since being drafted:

"Yeah, Carson is a good friend. We speak a decent amount. Yeah, I'm kind of always in contact with him. He has been really good to me going all the way back to Fargo [N.D.] when I first got to North Dakota State. He's been great to me, especially throughout this process."

On the main advice Wentz gave him:

"Just be yourself and just continue to do what has gotten you here. That's working hard and, hopefully, treating people the right way. I think those are the two biggest things. You can't come out and try to reinvent yourself or be somebody that you're not. People see through that stuff and it won't allow you to be successful. Just work hard and learn."

On the comfort of having C Tanner Volson on the roster:

"It makes it easier going out on the grass and you're not worried about the quarterback-center exchange. That stuff was good. It's awesome having a familiar face. It just makes the transition maybe a little bit more comfortable. Tanner is awesome. He has worked really hard to get here, so I'm excited for him."

On if his ability to make plays with his legs led people to overlook his passing:

"I don't know, I guess I'm not too worried how you analyze it or the way people look at it. I think that's something that's part of my game — that I'm able to run around and just be an athlete and play. I think, sometimes, football looks that way. Obviously, not always. You have to stay in there and hang in there. Philip [Rivers] is one of the best at standing in there, making the throw and taking one in the teeth. That's a huge part of the quarterback position, but every once in a while, you just have to play."

On the first practice:

"It was fun. We had the rain coming down in beautiful Southern California. It was good just to be around the guys. By the end of the practice, you're a little bit more comfortable just speaking the language, getting in the huddle. At the end of the day, it's football. It was fun to finally be back to doing some of that stuff."

On playing under center:

"Obviously, it's a huge transition in general. I was fortunate to be under center and do some different things with play-action and dropping from the center, turning your back to the line of scrimmage and then flipping your eyes and finding guys — and also doing stuff with the running game. There's an adjustment in the fact that it's a new language. They're doing things a little bit differently that way. That will be a transition for me. Thankfully, I've done a little of it so I feel somewhat comfortable."


On the frustration of not being able to practice today:

"It's very frustrating. I wish I could be out there competing and getting better today, physically. Since I can't do that, my world is just being with my coaches, being around my coaches, watching the drills that we're doing — learning from that and getting better mentally."

On if it feels real with wearing Chargers gear:

"It does. Now that I'm actually here, doing football stuff. That's why I'm here."

On if talked with the veterans:

"A little bit, yes. The message is we're here to win a Super Bowl. That's the goal and that's our plan and we're all going to work like it."

On similarities between the playbook here and at Notre Dame:

"It's similar so far in that there are four down linemen, but I think it ends there. I think the transition won't be hard at all. Football is football. You line up, you go and you play. I think I'll be able to transition nicely."

On Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley and Defensive Line Coach Giff Smith:

"I like both of them. Both are great coaches and I think I have a lot to learn from both of them. I think we can win a lot of games together."

On the process of learning the playbook:

"You spend time. You have to spend time together going through it all. That's how you get better. That's how you learn things, spend the time. That's what we've been doing."

On spending time with the other draft picks:

"I have, yes. [S] Nasir [Adderley], [T] Trey [Pipkins], [LB] Drue [Tranquill] and the rest of them. We were talking and one rookie class every year wins a Super Bowl. We were saying, 'Why can't it be us?' I think that's something — that's our goal. That's what we want to do and that's why we're here."

On what his physical activity has been:

"I'm in the training room with doctors and professionals here. The second they clear me, I'll start doing everything else."   

On transitioning to the NFL:

"It's a transition. Life is about transitions, how you manage that and how you maneuver through that. I'm presented with another one here and I'm excited with this transition."

On how his activities outside of football have helped to get where he is now:

"I think having those experience and being around different people, different cultures form how you transition into the locker room and new people. I think that's one way that'll help me."

On how he likes living in California:

"It's day two. I like it so far."

On sharing this experience with fellow Notre Dame teammates:

"It's great. It's something that really helps as you move forward through this sometimes-tough process. To have someone who's been there before who knows you personally and who you can go to as a resource and a mentor is really valuable."

On having fellow Notre Dame teammates in the draft class:

"I think it's kind of unique to have that chance to do this. To play on a pro team with four you've already played with before. I think it's special for sure."

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