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Transcript - Training Camp (Aug. 14, 2018)

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 | Jack Hammett Sports Complex | Costa Mesa, Calif.


On LB Uchenna Nwosu and LB Kyzir White not practicing:

"Kyzir is just sore in both knees. Sore knees kept them out. They're going to play a lot this weekend, so I have to get them to the weekend. They played a lot in the game last week. Those guys are getting defensive reps, but are also getting special teams reps, so I have to protect them a little bit at some point."

On the importance of having reserves get reps at training camp:

"You want to look at your reserves right now. You want to know exactly what you have before you get into the season, so it's a great opportunity for some of these guys. Even when the young guys — we have threes and fours right now — the team is kind of deep. There are 90 guys in camp, so everybody is taking advantage of the reps. You get to see some guys you haven't see as much, and today I thought some of those guys stepped up a little bit."

On CB Michael Davis:

"Night-and-day. Mike Davis — night-and-day. He's a guy that's playing with more confidence. He's more physical. He's becoming very dependable."

On how Michael Davis wasn't known for that last season:

"There's a reason why he went undrafted. At 6-foot-3, 4.4 [40-yard dash], and with all that length — there's a reason, but [Defensive Backs Coach] Ron Milus has done a heck of a job developing that young man — he's night-and-day right now."

On how he assessed the quarterbacks after watching game film:

"It's pretty much what I saw on the field. I thought Cardale [Jones] started out a little jitter-ish. He settled in and then played fine. Geno [Smith] came off the bench and I thought he did well with what he had to work with. The communication part, learning the scheme, the reads — I thought they were good in those areas. Everybody has to do their part. We have to get guys open. Guys have to catch balls. We have to protect a little better, but I thought those quarterbacks were fine."

On QB Philip Rivers playing Week 2 and 3:

"That's the plan. Things can change, but that is the plan."

On WR Geremy Davis' performance on Saturday:

"It didn't surprise me that he had a nice game on Saturday because he's been having nice practices. He's taken that to the field. I think Geremy has reached that point in his career where he's going to do it or he's not, and right now he's doing it."

On Geremy Davis' development:

"Everybody comes along at a different pace. Last year, he learned the playbook — he was already here, but we put some new things in and that slowed him down a little bit, but he just had to pick it up on special teams. I think he's getting comfortable with the offense and now he can focus on special teams more. You're going to have to do that when you're that fourth or fifth receiver. You like for that fourth guy to be four core, and for that fifth guy to be two core, and last year he was no core."

On what he needs to work on in special teams:

"Just tackle. Offensive guys — they run down the field making space, making tackles — they don't do that for a living. It's a skill set they have to learn and no one works harder at that than Geremy, I'll tell you that right now."

On not scheming for opponents in the preseason:

"You don't really scheme. You don't watch film on the other guys because you're still installing your schemes, so you'll look at their opponent. You'll be familiar with them, but they do the same thing. We call. We talk. We want to evaluate our players. We'll get to the scheming part when the season gets here."

On the difference of RB Melvin Gordon III last season:

"I thought he was healthy. That's the biggest difference that I saw on Melvin. He looked healthy. He had some juice, and he's a strong guy — has a lot of stamina. As the season went on, he just got stronger."

On if Gordon still has that same juice:

"He was gone for a little while in the offseason and then he came back. He wasn't gone the whole time like [DE] Melvin Ingram [III] was, but I just see Melvin [Gordon] running around healthy — and when a guy is running around healthy, you know he's in a different mindset. He's having fun. He's enjoying the game."


On his impressions of the first preseason game:

"I think there were a lot of good things, but we were sloppy in some areas, which you expect to have happened when you have a lot of different guys playing in a lot of different situations. We kept the ball a long time. We were fairly effective in a number of areas. You just want to clear those things up and continue to improve."

On QB Philip Rivers playing this Saturday:

"With the way camp has gone — he has had a good camp — playing with the first unit is a chance to get them together and actually see them operate. In the scrimmages that we've had and the things that we've done, we have had some good competition and done some good things. The next step is to do it in the game, especially getting snaps from the center. It will be the first time in live-action that he has gotten snaps from [C Mike] Pouncey, which is an important piece of it. It's the next step."

On if Rivers had thrown any interceptions in practice before today:

"I think threw one, but he hasn't thrown many."

On throwing fewer interceptions in 2017 than 2016:

"There's no question that [Head] Coach [Anthony] Lynn made an emphasis of being better in the turnover department — on both sides of the ball. Philip worked hard at it. Some of it was situational, the way the games went. We were moving it pretty at the end of the year and we were putting ourselves in better positions than we were the year before. A lot of times in the [games], if you look at it, from the year before when he had a number of picks, [they were in] long down-and-distance situations. We were behind in the games and we were trying to come back. That's when those types of things seemed to happen a lot more. He did a really good job with that [in 2017]. Even through the spring and all the way through camp, he has been really good with the ball."

On if Rivers threw less interceptions when RB Melvin Gordon III was most effective:

"I think it was more than the last quarter [of the season]. If you go back and look at the stats, it was the last nine games. You can attribute that to whatever you want to attribute it to — but if you look at it statistically over the last eight games, there was nobody in the league, offensively. That was a combination of Philip, our offensive line and the running backs. That was something [where] we were playing well, we were playing with confidence — it was certainly nice to see Melvin [Gordon] have the kind of finish that he did — but I think it was a number of things. It was hard to stop [WR] Keenan [Allen], [WR] Tyrell [Williams] was doing some good things and we were getting some production from our tight ends — but I think it really goes back to the O-line. They were doing a nice job."

On the running game:

"I think you can always get better. You're trying to look at different things and look at different people. You're not really scheming an opponent. Sometimes it's hard in some of the preseason games. You can't just say that we're going to run the football because you're not used to seeing the fronts or the pressures that you're going to see. We had some effective runs in the game last week. We were pleased with that. We have to continue to integrate that into our offense."

On QB Cardale Jones and QB Geno Smith:

"It's still early. There is still a lot of time left. Both of the guys got a number of snaps — they each got in the thirties, as far as snaps. You [got] a good set of what they can do. You would just like to see them clean up some of the little details from the last game. For instance, playing a little bit faster in that first game, just getting into the rhythm sometimes because it's different than the practice. Both of them will do better — not that they did badly. The competition is good. I'm excited to see how they progress."

On RB Austin Ekeler:

"He's a young player that can do a lot of different things for us. He can make some explosive plays, which we saw in the game. I remember back to last season — it's funny because next week New Orleans comes in here — it was in those practices that Austin really kind of stood out. He made some plays. He made one play down here in this end zone — a catch with tight coverage against a linebacker and you were like, 'Okay, maybe this kid has a chance.' Then [later in the preseason] against San Francisco in the preseason game, he really had a nice game running it. Actually, against the Rams in preseason [game] three, he had a nice game. When you have a young guy that had a good first season like he did, there are a lot of expectations on him in the second year. He has handled that well so far."

On TE Sean Culkin:

"It's nice to see him play the way that he did last week. He made a couple of tough catches. The one obviously popped out when the guy hit him. Where it really started was late in the week last week — there were some plays blocking on defensive ends where it kind of started to show, and you were like, 'Wow, okay. That's good, Sean.' Now, if he can continue to build of that that, the big test would be to carry it over into a game and be productive — and he did that. That's exciting to see. I think the challenge for him is to continue with that. That's the big thing. We need some consistency from that position. He's a young player that hasn't played a lot. It was good to see him have some production last week."

On Culkin's physical traits:

"I think the physical tools have always been there. It's showing that you can take those physical tools and apply them in a game-situation. It was nice to see him do that."

On WR Geremy Davis:

"He has gotten better. I think that's the natural progression when you're with a group of receivers like the ones that we have. Tyrell [Williams], [WR] Travis [Benjamin] and Keenan [Allen] are all really tremendous pros. They set the standard as far as being able to play different positions, doing a lot of different tasks. When you have a guy like Geremy exposed to that, you better adapt to what they do or you're going to stand out in a negative way. He's done that [adaption]. He has worked hard. He is a guy that you always see on the field after [practice] working on things. He's always in the office trying to get better. It's good to see him make some plays in a game like that and see that hard work pay off for him."


On the running game:

"It's hard when the defense kind of knows your schemes, they know your lineman so they kind of know what you're going to run. It gets a little tough, but I feel pretty confident in our group and I think we're going to get the job done in the running game."

On being healthy:

"It feels good. It feels good to be healthy and I'm going to take full advantage of it. If you ask a player when they get hurt, they always wish they could have done more, so I'm kind of living in that moment right now. I'm trying to do the most I can because you never know. I feel good. I haven't been feeling like this in a while now — for about a couple years and I've just been having to push through it. I think that little time I took off kind of helped me out a lot."

On recovering:

"I do a lot of single leg stuff and things like that. I'm putting a lot of extra work in because I have to. I have to stay on top of that and I think that was part of the reason, too. Last year, you get tired, your mind gets tired, your body gets tired, you kind of let up on some workouts. Now you just have to stay on top of it. It's going to be like that for the rest of my career. You have to do the little extra things to keep you healthy throughout the year."

On RB Austin Ekeler:

"That's just a man who's hungry. He comes out here every day with a mindset to get better. That's how it should be. It shouldn't take an undrafted person or undrafted player to come out here and have that mindset. If your team wants to be great, everybody has to have that mindset, but it's good when you have guys like that who didn't get much recognition at all, come out here every day and try to make a name for themselves. [His ability to get] to the second level so fast helps to clear up a lot of reads, so I like that. That's going to help me out a lot, especially on game day, when guys don't know what's coming."

On preparing for the season:

"Mentally, as far as when the season starts, the game plan and being on top of everything, I think I've always been sharp there. I've learned from [former Chargers RB] Danny [Woodhead] just little things here and there that you need to watch, what you need to focus on, especially having [QB Philip Rivers] and the team is super big with protection. I'm pretty sure every team is, they're paying quarterbacks almost 100 million [dollars] so you have to keep those guys safe. I'm a film junkie, so I love watching that and just the physical things and just the weight room stuff."

On former RB Danny Woodhead:

"Yeah, I call him every once in a while. He's golfing a lot these days. I still keep in touch with him. He's a great teammate."

On taking care of his body during the summer.

"I've always been good about taking care of my body as far as getting massages and eating right and things like that. Like I said, I learn from Danny [Woodhead] and them on how to do that. Early. I figured that out quick, especially as a running back, you have to stay on top of that or I don't think you'll make it through the year. Like I said, it's just more of the little extra stuff, as far as what I need from my legs. You go eight weeks, nine weeks or ten weeks in the season, you get a little tired. Everything becomes repetitive and you get a little tired. 'Maybe I won't do this today, as far as what I need for the single legs, or whatever you have to do that's extra to help you out.' You can get lazy on that. It's about staying focused and just keep doing your routine."

On making it through the season:

"My knee started feeling better towards the end of the year, but I've always felt like it's a mindset really towards the end of the year — how you approach it. Some guys go through those first eight weeks of the season, guys that are excited to play, excited to put on the uniform, but then it gets old. Then guys are trying to stay healthy and then guys that were coming in trying to make those tackles aren't really trying to make those tackles anymore. To me, my mindset is, I'm going to make you pay. You think it's going to be a breeze your last eight weeks and I'm going to turn it up. That's a mindset I feel like you have and there's a lot of players that have it, that feel like they're second half of the year players, but it is what it is. It's mindset."

On being confused for Los Angeles Rams' RB Todd Gurley:

"It does [bum me out], but it is what it is. I'm just starting to figure out that people just see a man with dreads and muscles and be like, 'Oh, he's such and such,' because I get called [Tennessee Titans RB] Derrick Henry, too, and I don't even look close to Derrick Henry, or Todd, so it is what it is. They don't really get to see us. It's not like basketball, where they see our face all the time. Sometimes you can be understandable, but when you argue with me about being that person, that's when it's an issue. I got into an argument with a girl about me being Todd. [She] knew I was Todd and she was arguing back and forth with me. When it gets like that, it's the boiling point."

On being recognized in public:

"Unless you're wearing a hoodie, there's always somebody that's going to point you out, whether it's a little kid. You've got fans everywhere. It's just what it is. I went out London and some people knew me out there. It's always going to be somewhere, but if you wear a hoodie, I think you can get by."

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