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Transcript - Training Camp Day 17 (Aug. 20, 2019)


Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019 | Dick Tucker Field | Costa Mesa, Calif.


On LB Uchenna Nwosu:

"He's sore. I don't want to get into athlete's injuries this time of year because if you do that, you can make them targets on the football field. I'm just going to leave it at that.

"We'll see. Tomorrow's a big workday, if he can do something tomorrow and then Friday, he may play.

"I like to see them all healthy, but he's a young player. He needs all the reps he can handle."

On this week's practice:

"We are still in camp mode, but I'm looking at taking some off the veteran players. I want to see the reserves play a little bit more. I'd like for us to finish games better in the second half, so they are going to get more reps because right now we are making too many mistakes in my opinion."

On the upcoming game:

"When we talk about playing time — I'm going to talk with the players a little bit tomorrow — but I have an idea of who's going to play, who's not going to play. Also, I want to give guys what they need to get ready for Week 1. Some guys need to play in the preseason to get ready, some don't so that's kind of how I handle that."

On QB Philip Rivers:

"I'm going to give him an opportunity to tell me one way or the other so we're going to have that conversation.

"I make the final call, don't get me wrong, but I'm going to give a player an opportunity. If a player wants to play or feels like he has to play — I think [former QB] Peyton Manning played in all four preseason games, he just felt like he had to play — I'm not going to hold you out of a game if you feel like you need to get those reps to get ready for Week 1. If Philip comes to me and says, 'Coach, I need a series or two,' he's going to get it."

On LB Denzel Perryman:

"He knows he's rusty right now and he is not all the way back from his injury, but I love the way he is competing and working through it. Each week though, I think he gets better and better. I think he gets closer to the Denzel [he was] before he was hurt."

On practicing at Orange Coast College:

"It was a slide-and-glide today. That's not full speed tempo and that's not a walkthrough, so I figured if we could come out and we could do that on the turf without making any hard cuts and things like that."

On LS Mike Windt:

"It was not so much what Mike did. [LS] Cole [Mazza] did an outstanding job. He's been here from day one, in the offseason program. He's snapped in some big games in college. I wanted to see him snap some in the NFL and he's just done an outstanding job. We appreciate what Mike did. Mike's one of the most consistent snappers, he's been around for a while — but it's the NFL. We made a change.

"You don't want to wait until the last cut to release a veteran if you think you're going to release him. Hopefully, we did Mike a favor."

On CB Trevor Williams:

"Right now, I have no idea. You think a guy is going to be back in a week and it takes two weeks. Some guys, you think are going to be out three weeks and they are back in one week. Everybody is different."

On S Nasir Adderley:

"We would love to have him out here getting his reps. It's going on 21 days right now. He's missed basically training camp so he's way behind right now.

"He's working hard at it, we'll see."

On mental or fundamental/technical mistakes:

"Both, fundamental/technique mistakes and mental mistakes. Some things you can live with. You're going to get your butt kicked in the National Football League every now and then. That's going to happen — but the mistakes, we can improve on. It doesn't take talent to improve on mistakes. That's what we are looking to do this week."

On T Trey Pipkins III:

"He's getting there. He's done an outstanding job. Actually, he's further along than I thought he would be at this time, so I've been pleased with his development. If he has to be the swing tackle, I'm sure he'll step up."

On LB Emeke Egbule:

"He's young. We're throwing him in there because we've got to get him more reps, we've got to get him caught up. He's athletic. He has some versatility, too. He has some rush skills. He's just a good football player, just want to see him on the field more."

On the offensive line's performance against the Saints:

"After our first couple of holding penalties, I thought the offensive line settled in and they gave us enough time to get the ball off when we needed to at times. The running game could've been better. We made some mistakes in the running game that could've been better, but overall, [G] Forrest Lamp played really physical. [G Dan] Feeney did as well at center. They did some good things."

On if the run game is determined more by the running backs or linemen:

"Well, I think it's always a combination of both. It's not just one unit. You take away the short-yardage plays — I think there was almost four yards-a-carry, which is below our standard. We try to be around 4.3 [yards-per-carry]. We missed some opportunities for big plays. 10 guys doing the right thing, one guy doing the wrong thing. It set us back a little bit."

On failing to convert short-yardage situations:

"That's why I wanted to see it. We've been working in that area a little bit [and we] had an opportunity. Maybe in the regular season, I punt the ball there. It was fourth-and-a long one — but I wanted to see it. I put them in a gotta-have-it situation and see how we responded — we lost. We did not respond the way I thought we would."

On the failed conversion:

"It was a mistake, actually — a missed assignment."

On the blitz pickup:

"There were some things — I mean, they pressured a lot. They normally do in the second preseason game. We weren't surprised by it, but you still have to pick it up. It's a lot different when you're doing it in practice, then you get in a game and things happen a lot faster — especially for the young line. I thought it was good work for them to see all those pressures that they got in a game because that's going to help us down the road."

On if blitz pickup will improve with C Mike Pouncey:

"Oh, absolutely. It's something that's going to improve even without Pouncey in there because they've been through it, they've seen it and we've worked it. Like I said, when they see it full speed like that, hopefully, next time it doesn't happen as fast."

On if the starters will play on the offensive line against the Seahawks:

"You know, I tried to get the younger guys more work this past Sunday. I'm going to try to do the same thing. I want to see those guys play a little bit because we need a couple guys in that group to step up."

On the special teams:

"Special teams, I believe, improved tremendously when the kicking settled down — No. 1 — but that whole operation from the time I got here has changed. The snapper, the holder and the kicker and the punter. I've looked for that to stay the same. It was pretty solid last season. We got a returner, you saw [RB Troymaine] Pope, he did a good job on the return. [WR] Travis Benjamin is a decent returner. We've got some guys who can take it to the house. [DB] Desmond King [II] took one to the house last year. I look forward to special teams being an advantage for us this year."

On Special Teams Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach George Stewart:

"Coach Stewart is known for special teams. He was special teams coordinator for a long time in this league. He went over to wide receivers for seven, eight years and then he came back. I just brought him back."

On the returning group:

"If you're making plays in the return game or in special teams period, I have to look at you at your position. I tell young guys all the time, 'If you want to get a coach's attention, show up on special teams and then we can start using you more on offense and defense.'"

On RB Troymaine Pope in punt and kickoff coverage:

"He's not a bad cover guy. Right now I think his value is as a returner."

On Pope:

"He needs to be at least a three-corps guy. If he's a kick returner, punt returner and maybe something else then, yeah. No doubt."

On DB Desmond King II returning kicks:

"Des [King] is still a returner. I know what Des can do. I need to find out what these other guys can do. That's kind of where [Troymaine] Pope showed up."


On what he is working on to improve:

"Tracking the ball every day at practice. You know, we have one of the best quarterbacks in the game [QB Philip Rivers], and we have other guys like [QB] Tyrod [Taylor] and [QB] Cardale [Jones] who can sling it. Every day we focus on trying to find better ways to track the ball. We're watching film, going through their progressions, seeing what they see. Then, every opportunity we get, we try to go after that route. If you drop the ball it's 10 push-ups, so it's kind of a like a consequence if you don't get it."

On lower interception totals last season:

"You know, sometimes that's just the way it goes. The ball falls your way sometimes and other times it doesn't. We pride ourselves on getting the ball, but we're still one of the top secondaries in the league. We just affected the game in other ways. I want to say we might've had more forced fumbles last year than in the previous years. Our main thing is we just want to get the ball. It doesn't matter how we do it. Interceptions would be great. Everybody always sees those. Any time we're putting our offense in a position to win the game, then we're doing our jobs."

On S Derwin James Jr.:

"It's unfortunate. That's my brother, and seeing him go through something like that sucks. You don't want that for him. Especially him, coming off a hot rookie campaign. He was definitely going to do the same thing this year and do it at an even bigger level. We'll just hold the fort down until he gets back. This is what we train for. We have [defensive backs] who are interchangeable, versatile and can play many different positions. That's what helps put us in winning positions late in the game. We just roll with the punches and just keep going."

On looking after James:

"You continue to check on him every day. See how he's doing, see how the rehab is going. A guy like Derwin, football is his life, so he'll be around the facility a lot. He'll still be engaged, telling us what he sees off the line. He's a pro — he's one of those generational players, I believe. He just really loves the game and knows every aspect of it. To have that at such a young age is amazing to see. He's going to be in-tune with it. He's not going to be one of those guys that's just off by the wayside. He's our brother and he wants to be a part of this. He loves it, he loves us. He's going to be there, so I don't think it'll be hard for him to pick us up. We still all have to match his energy because that's what he brings."

On overcoming injuries:

"We'll definitely get the job done. This is what — one — we get paid to do. Two, everybody who plays this game loves it. It's a big blow that Derwin [James] is out, but at the same time, injuries happen. Guys have to step up, whatever it may be. This is what we do — we play football. We have a job to do and we're going to get it done."

On replacing James:

"It's not necessarily replacing Derwin. I'm not stepping into his position to be anything that Derwin was. You know, I've played a lot of snaps in my career and I played a whole bunch of snaps last year. We got to the playoffs and we were able to make a lot of plays. It's not necessarily thinking of replacing Derwin. It's, 'Hey, there was a little bump in the road. We have to fix it, whatever it may be,' and then keep it moving. When you start thinking like you're replacing somebody or you have to live up to what somebody has done, that's when all the bad stuff starts to happen. Then, it just becomes the snowball effect. You can't think like that. You just go out there and do what you do. At the end of the day, what'll happen is bound to happen."

On playing seven defensive backs at the end of the 2018 season:

"I think we have the best coaching staff in the game and they're always putting us into a position to win. They see what we do well and they like to build on that. They always put us in a position that they know we're going to win. It might be a film study or a specific match-up. Last year, it was seven DBs. Who knows what it maybe this year, you never know. We have faith in our coaching staff and they have faith in us to go out there and do what we do. I mean we're ballplayers, man. We've been playing this game since we were little kids. We go out there, have fun and do what we always do. I know you all have to report on this stuff, but at the end of the day we're not thinking about that at all. We just want to go out there and make plays."

On if starting on defense will decrease his time on special teams;

"This is what I trained for in the offseason — to be able to play every snap or to be able to run as much as they tell me to run and not get tired. So whatever the coaches want me to do, I'll do it. That has always been my role here and that's the type of player I've always been. I've always valued myself as the more you can do — so I still want to play on special teams. That's what got me here, that's what got me these six years in the league. That's really what got me my start in the league, so I still love special teams. I still want to be a part of it because I believe that's what sets the tone for the whole game. When that offense and defense is on the sideline, special teams is the first ones starting the game off. They're setting the tone for the entire game. I still want to be a part of that. If our coaches feel like, 'Hey, we might need to go a different route to conserve you,' or whatever that may be, then I'll fight them on it. They have the best interests for me, so we'll see what happens Week 1 and then go from there."

On S Jaylen Watkins:

"I want to say it was almost an exact year from when he got hurt. To come back on Sunday, have an interception, and play well — it was good for him. It was a big confidence builder for him. Some people, when they get hurt and say, 'Why me?' He went back to the drawing board, started working and made himself better than what he was before. He's a versatile guy. At Florida he played a bunch of positions, and then even at [the Philadelphia] Philly [Eagles] he played a bunch of positions. To have that here is going to make our job a lot more manageable because we can still do the same things we want to do and we can still get the same things done that we want to get done. It's great having him."

On the importance of versatility:

"I wouldn't necessarily say that it's more important because when you scout like that and you have DB coaches like [Defensive Backs Coach Ron] Milo [Milus] and [Assistant Defensive Backs Coach] Chris Harris, those are the type of guys they want. Those are the type of players that they see — guys that can play many different positions. So when one of your brothers falls like that, you can just throw somebody in there and keep the whole thing moving. I wouldn't say that it's more important now. It's just as important as it has been before. It sucks that it had to be someone like Derwin [James], who brings so much to the game, but at the end of the day injuries happen as part of the game. You just have to keep going."


On returning after injury:

"The biggest step for me yesterday was play one that I got on the field. Just seeing the process of re-thinking of all the rehab and all that and getting back out there. The first play I think I was out there with [S Adrian] AP [Phillips] and all them, it just felt really good."

On his interception:

"That was really big. You get a pick on your day back, you can't complain about that."

On appreciating being back:

"I went home and did my rehab and I had to watch the guys on TV. It was just tough not being able to celebrate with them last year. I'm looking forward to it this year."

On what he learned the past year:

"Like you said — cliché again — adversity. How to handle adversity. I have in the past, but I'll say this is the big one for me just because of the stigma behind an ACL. I know guys right now that haven't bounced back and text me after the game just like, 'It was great to see you out there. Wish I could.' So, getting all that and inspiration from a couple guys in Philly that tore their ACLs last year. Just getting texts from them [and telling them], 'keep pushing,' and, 'appreciate you,' because it's giving them a chance to know they can come back and play."

On advice to S Derwin James Jr.:

"I mean, Derwin's been through this injury, I believe, before. He's obviously come back for it and played at a high level — Pro Bowl level. So, it's been done already. Just keep being who he is. If Derwin's who he is every day I'm sure he's going to come back even better."

On where he will be placed in the secondary:

"Last year before I got hurt, I was playing a little bit strong safety, free safety, nickel. Before Derwin [James] went down, again, I was playing at nickel and free. I'm pretty sure my reps at strong will increase, but they do a good job of cross-training a lot of us. Our defense is pretty symmetrical. A lot of us can be put in different spots and play well."

On which position he prefers:

"Yeah, I get that question all the time. It changes based on the defense. I like to play certain calls, I'd say. If I could choose a certain play to play this position, then yeah. Both of them have a tough job. I like nickel because you get both the covering and you get physical in the box too. Kind of both."

On where he saw himself coming out of college:

"I saw myself as a true corner coming out of college. Tackling in college was a little different than the NFL, but when I was in Philly I did a good job at honing in on my safety and getting better at tackling."

On having the foundation at corner:

"I always trained in the offseason as a corner and I always treated safety like a tool. I think that foundation has always helped me going into training camp, coaches seeing me cover and saying, 'Hey, at worst case we can put him at corner and slot or cover some tight ends.'"

On when he realized he was playing exactly a year after his injury:

"I'm really close with the training staff now, obviously. I walked into the training room and we were just talking and all of us the last time I was in that room, I was hurt. We were just like, 'Wait. It's the second preseason game but it's the same day.' We were like 'Yeah it is. The 18th because I remember getting surgery on the 24th.' So, I waited six days and was like, 'Yeah the 18th.' It kind of made me happy because when it happened, like I said before, you think it's over. Then fast-forward a year, you're back in the same spot getting ready to play. I don't think it gets better than that."

On the hardest part of rehab:

"Not being around ball. I've never missed a season since I was five years old. That was my first year trying to figure out what I'm going to do after rehab. Usually, it's hanging out with the guys or watching other games. It was tough to watch games and watch guys. I had a baby boy, so I was able to spend a lot of time with that and kind of keep me going and focused. I'm here today."

On staying involved in his absence:

"Yeah, we're all in a group text. I would text during a game when they would do stuff and they'd come back. They know I'm watching and I kind of know what calls they are and bull-crap calls and all that. You know just give them encouraging words."

On the Miami-Florida game:

"Yeah, it's been going on the last two weeks. They think they've got a quarterback, we don't have a quarterback, we've got to see. They got me my senior year, they beat us. Last time we played they beat us, but we should get them this year."

On his assignments in the secondary:

"The slot corner you will have a lot more help. Obviously, you're closer to the safety and all that. So, I think you're more of an island on the outside. I do like to compete and I like being outside, but usually, in the slot you've got a shiftier guy, more athletic guy. Like I said, they kind of come with kind of whatever you're feeling at the moment. I kind of just like being inside more because you're a part of the run game and all the moving parts of actual X's and O's of football."

On who the best slot receiver in the game right now is:

"[WR] Keenan [Allen]. Keenan's a tough cover, man. He's quick, man. I've gone against Keenan, I've never gone against [Patriots WR Julian] Edelman. I've gone against a lot of receivers in the slot. Keenan's pretty good."

On the best slot receiver not on the Chargers:

"Definitely [Julian] Edelman. He and his quarterback [Tom Brady] are [tight]."

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