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Transcript - Training Camp Day 1 (July 25, 2019)


Thursday, July 25, 2019 | Jack Hammett Sports Complex | Costa Mesa, Calif.


Opening statement:

"It's good to be back on the football field. I thought today that we had a good practice. I didn't want to go zero to 100 on the first day back, so we kind of eased our way into it. Tomorrow, we'll be full-go. I'm just trying to keep everybody healthy and give them a chance to make this football team."

On opening camp:

"I just said — it's great. It's great to be back. I miss it."

On getting the taste of last year's end out of his mouth:

"You just don't get that taste out of your mouth until you win your next game. Right now, our focus is on the Colts."

On the message to the team to start the new season:

"Well, my biggest concern is our mindset. I'm not worried about the Raiders, the Broncos, the Chiefs — I'm concerned about the Chargers, the mindset and approach to practice every day. The effort to get better each and every day when we come into this building and walk onto this field, and just do it all over again. What we did last year, we can't carry that over to this year. This is a different football team. I want to make sure that everyone understands that — and I believe we do. We have a good-character group of hard-working guys. We kept our core together the best that we could. I expect these guys to show up, work hard, help one another and continue to get better."

On external expectations:

"That should not affect us at all because there is no way that those can be higher than the expectations that we have for ourselves. You can listen to that too much, but I feel like — like I said — that this is a good-character group. We have good leadership on this team. I think we'll be okay in that respect."

On his message to the team regarding RB Melvin Gordon III:

"Melvin's not here. We don't like to talk about players that aren't here. We understand his situation. We love Melvin. We're a good football team with Melvin, but he's not here."

On limiting Gordon's absence from being a distraction:

"Absolutely, and I don't think that it will be a distraction."

On TE Hunter Henry:

"He looks good. He looked good in the offseason. He looked good last year or we wouldn't have let him come back in that last game. It's good to see him back and having fun out there with his teammates."

On Henry's mentality:

"Well Hunter is really cool. Even when he sweats, he never lets you know that he's sweating. I can tell, though, that he's happy to be back. He's working his tail off. He looks good."

On LB Thomas Davis Sr.:

"Thomas is a heck of a linebacker. He's going to bring leadership to the linebacker room and experience, but first he has to learn our system. He's working his tail off right now every day to learn our system. I love his energy. Going through this camp, I'm going to hold him out some and make sure that he's fresh come Week 1. He's 36 years old, but he runs around like a 13-year-old."

On LB Denzel Perryman:

"Denzel looks fine. Yesterday, we had a conditioning test. He got a little tight in the conditioning test. We'll limit his reps today and tomorrow, but he's going to be fine coming off the knee [injury]."

On T Russell Okung:

"We have a good medical staff. We've had the best people look at Russell, so it wasn't that scary, but we wanted to take care of it right away. He's being treated for his blood clots. We look forward to having him back one day, but we have no idea when that's going to be."

On Okung's spirits:

"He's here every day. He's in the meetings. He's helping with the young guys. Right now, he's an assistant coach."

On his trip to Tanzania:

"Man, we'll be here all day talking about Tanzania. I mean, that experience was a game-changer for me. It was unbelievable. I've never been around a group of people that have done more with less and are proud of it — just the attitude and appreciation. To open a school for all of those young kids and for them to have the opportunity to get an education with the grit that they already have, I just think there are going to be some impactful people coming out of that school."

On his takeaways from the trip:

"You know, over there it's life or death. Every day, their backs are against the wall. I think, sometimes, that we take some things for granted — I know I do. I try not to do that as much anymore. I was glad that my kids were there with me so that they could experience some of that. Just, clean water and things like that are a challenge for people over there — and just going to school. We had to start school at 10 o'clock and I was dead against it. I wanted the kids to get to school early. I don't want them getting up late and staying up late, I want them to get to school on time, but lions feed from six [in the morning] until nine. The kids have to go to school at 10 or 11. Those are things that we don't have to deal with or talk about. It's just a different lifestyle over there, but I believe it's made those people tougher. They're very resilient. I really appreciated just being around them."

On G Dan Feeney taking snaps at center:

"When you play on the offensive line, you need some position flex. Dan Feeney was going to be our starting center before [C] Mike Pouncey became available. It's not foreign to him. He's done it before. I think that he has an opportunity. If something was to happen to Mike, I think Dan could step in and do a decent job at center."

On RBs Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson:

"They have another year under their belt. I thought last year that Austin took it to another level and I expect him to keep going in that direction. I thought Jackson showed up last year when we needed him. He's had a heck of an offseason as well. Detrez, he's done an outstanding job. I look forward to seeing all of those guys get opportunities and make the most out of it."

On what stands out about Jackson:

"His instincts, his production. When you study Justin, he's been productive his whole life. He's never really had the height, weight, speed thing going for him, but if you look at his production — it's there. High school, college and when I believe his NFL career is over that it'll be there as well."

On the left tackle:

"There's not going to be a lot of experimenting. [T] Sam Tevi is going to be over there for now. [T] Trent Scott can also play over there at left tackle. Both did it last year, so we're going to ask those two to do it again."

On QB Philip Rivers:

"He's the same, young Rivers. I can say that."


On starting his 16th training camp:

"Good. It feels be good to be back. You know, it was just nice to have that break after OTAs and minicamp. It's good to be back out here and get going. As we know, you [are] a ways away from the opener, but it will be here before you know it at the same time. Little-by-little, day-by-day we got to re-create the camaraderie — re-create the whole deal that we had last year and then be even better. That just doesn't happen — we have to do that and we kind of got that whole thing started today."

On leading as a veteran:

"I mean, we have a lot of veteran players mixed in different groups. You know, we have a young team for the most part. We do have enough veterans sprinkled into each position group that I think it's been well-expressed just how hard it is to get there. I think [Head] Coach [Anthony] Lynn has done a heck of a job. I think you just look up and go 'Oh yeah, we'll just go out and win 12 games again.' That doesn't happen. That doesn't just happen. We also know how hard it was to win those 12 [games]. There was a handful that could've gone either way that we found a way to do that. I think our guys know. I think we have the right attitude. Guys are hungry. We also know how we felt leaving that locker room in New England coming up short. That also adds some fuel to the whole deal, too. I think we're in a good frame of mind."

On the message from Head Coach Anthony Lynn regarding RB Melvin Gordon III:

"He didn't say anything. I think a lot of guys are close with Melvin. We hope to see him soon."

On if it is challenging re-creating camaraderie without Gordon:

"No. I mean, shoot, there's 89 or 90 other [players]. It's a little-by-little deal. In training camp, you build it. In meeting rooms, you build it. In the locker room, you build it. You build starting in pre-season games, going against the Rams in practice, going against the Saints in practice. All those things — you build it as the year goes. I think that trust, love and togetherness is something that goes. It doesn't just stop. How high did you get it filled in training camp and good luck to you. I think that kind of carries as we saw all through the season it's just a matter of going and doing it."

On RBs Justin Jackson and Austin Ekeler:

"Yeah, they're going to get a lot more work. You know, obviously Ekeler has been here a little bit longer than Justin, but you saw what he did last year in games. He obviously had a heck of an offseason, he made some huge plays for us last year in games. [RB] Detrez Newsome stepped in there and made some big plays for us and filled in last year in some games. So it certainly is a deep position for us and those guys all love to play and work hard. So, you know like I said, we love Melvin, but we're going to go with what we got. It's a pretty dang good group."

On T Russell Okung:

"I know Russell put out something so I would really like to let Russell to speak on it in specifics, but it was [scary], I think just once realizing how serious it was. All injuries are serious, but we're used to the ankles, knees and all those things — they are tough to deal with. Some guys are out a year, some guys miss seasons and those things are tough, but this is one of those silent and deadly deals. Thankfully again, as I think he said, he's getting the treatment, he caught it soon enough and he seems to be in great spirits. He's here in meetings and out there with us there today, jersey on, right there behind the action. When he's healthy, which is most important, we'll get him back out there."

On TE Hunter Henry:

"It's great. It's great to have Hunter back. It's a little bit of a weird deal because I think for everyone on the outside, it's like 'Wow, they're getting Hunter back'. For us, although he didn't necessarily play a ton in that New England game, we felt like we've had him back for some time now. Getting him back that week of practice and then really having him all offseason, it feels like he's been healthy for a long time. Having him back and in the fold, down-in and down-out, in there with [TE] Virgil [Green] — he's just such a playmaker. He's just that complete tight end as you've all seen but having not seen it for a year, it makes him that much more exciting."

On working out with Henry in Florida:

"Yeah, it just so happened. It wasn't anything really orchestrated, it just so happened he was having a time with family vacation about 15 minutes from where I kind of spend the summer. He and I threw a couple of days and ran, and his brothers came along. He has two brothers that are at Arkansas, so that was fun to kind of spontaneously hook up with him and throw a little bit. I don't throw much during that break, but when you've got your tight end that is that close, you make exceptions and throw a little bit. It was good to get out and get a little work in."

On areas he would like to improve:

"I think it's, just again, those tiny margins, those smalls ways you can improve that are the difference in getting to a second-and-three instead of a second-and-five because your throw wasn't as accurate as it needed it to be. All of these, those little, tiny, minuscule things that are the difference — as we know. I think for me, it's just that knowing every single day, to be there for everybody throughout the whole training camp and every little attention to detail. Again, those are the reminders that — without making it a big speech — it's those little reminders of not letting those little things slide and relax about anything just because we had some success. We've got to find a way to re-create it, we've got a long way to go."


On how it feels being back out on the field:

"I felt good, man, to be back with the team and back competing with the guys trying to move forward on trying to win the division and win the Super Bowl. It starts with day one, and I think it was a good day to start off."

On self-expectations for camp:

"I'm just trying to get better in different aspects of my game. I'm trying to go out there and compete. The main goal is to come out of camp healthy and better than you were [before]."

On how defending Chargers wide receivers in practice prepares him for the season:

"Starting with [WR] Keenan [Allen] — he's one of the top guys in this league. Going up against him every day definitely helps me with the quicker guys. You got [WR] Mike [Williams], one of the bigger guys who is one of the best receivers in this league, as well. Then you got [WR Travis] Trav [Benjamin]. He's one of the fastest guys in the league. We have a mixture of a lot of different things, and we also have young guys who are doing a lot of good things as well. Going against those three guys will definitely get us prepared for going into the season because we're going to go against some good receiving corps. We've got one of the top receiving corps as well."

On starting a new season:

"Oh man. I've seen teams go 13-3 and the next year win four games. We kind of have to lock ourselves in and know that that was last year. We were a good team last year, but it was also last year. We need to figure out a way to get over the hump and be a great team. That's winning those playoff games, winning the division and trying to get to the Super Bowl. You know, last year is last year. We have to figure out how to get this year's team better than what we were last year."

On what is expected of the Chargers this season:

"Everybody always wants to say Super Bowl, but I think it starts off with the division. We have a really good division. The Chiefs have won the past three years, I believe, and I think it starts there. We need to try to win our division and then focus on everything else after that. We have the Colts in week one, but we're so far away from there that we have a chance to get better and better each and every day. Hopefully, we can do that and win the division."

On RB Melvin Gordon III:

"We have a veteran team. We have some veteran guys. Even though we have some young guys though, we got a veteran team, so I don't think it would be any distraction. You know, we let the organization and Melvin handle that."

On Gordon's situation:

"For sure, everybody can understand anybody that you know feel [worth it], just like yourself. At your job, you're going to try and get the max amount of money that you can, so. At the end of the day, we have to focus on the people that are here. We have 89 players here, so we have to kind focus on the guys that here, and hopefully he gets back as soon as possible."

On how Gordon's situation compares to former Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell's:

"No, they're a different organization, we kind of have to focus on ourselves. We are not sure what they were going through there. That situation was definitely different. He was tagged twice, so that situation was definitely different, but at the same time, we kind of focus on guys that are here and wish him well, so hopefully that can get resolved and everything can go back to normal."

On training camp entrances like Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey:

"No, I talked to him about that. Probably a couple weeks ago he told me he was going to pull-up in a Brinks truck. I guess that means, 'Show me the money,' you know what I mean? It was kind of funny. No, I wouldn't pull up in anything like that. I'm alright, my pockets are okay."

On whether Ramsey would go through with his fun entrance:

"Yeah. For sure. I knew he was going through with it after he told me. He is a man of his word, so anything he says I believe. I knew he was doing it, he told me Adidas has it set it up. It was more him and Adidas setting it up, so it was kind of cool. I enjoyed watching it. It was funny.'

On the young players:

"I think they looked good. We all have to go back and watch the film, there are some things everybody can go out there and correct, myself included. From the outside and being on the sideline, everybody looks pretty good. Hopefully, we can go out here and continue to get better and better each and every day."

On CBs Trevor Williams and Michael Davis:

"I'm just trying to go out here and get better and better for myself as well. We all have to go out here and try to compete to be better, so we are all competing, you know. Whoever's out there, day one will be deserving of it. If it's Trevor, myself, Mike — whoever it is, we just have to try and go out there and compete each and every day. Those guys have been doing well from OTAs to minicamp, to now. Hopefully, we all can continue to get better."

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