2019 TRAINING CAMP MEDIA AVAILABILITY
Monday, July 29, 2019 | Jack Hammett Sports Complex | Costa Mesa, Calif.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR KEN WHISENHUNT
On QB Tyrod Taylor:
"He has done well acclimating to our system. I think he has been in some systems before that are kind of similar to ours. Obviously, getting to work in the offseason and OTAs helped, but he has done a good job. He has made a couple of good throws. We're excited to have him."
On Taylor's grasp of the offense:
"I think he has been in the league, what now, nine years? There is a reason that he has been in the league and been successful. He works hard at it. I think it's a good group in that room. We have guys that have been there and, especially when you have a guy like [QB] Philip [Rivers], that's around and knows as much about the game from quarterback play as anybody, it helps. It creates a good chemistry."
On QBs Cardale Jones and Easton Stick:
"I think competition is always good. That's what makes you better. They'll get opportunities in the preseason. That's where you really get a chance to evaluate how they play. We're excited to see them both play. I'll tell you, Cardale has done a tremendous job this offseason of working at it and getting better. Easton, from coming in from college, I'm very impressed with him as well. We're very fortunate to have those four guys and have those guys competing for spots."
On the young wide receivers:
"I think the big thing there is that we know a little bit about a lot of those guys. As you mentioned, [WR] Andre [Patton] and certainly [WR] Artavis [Scott]. I think the big thing is seeing them produce in the preseason. That's what this is all about. With [Raiders WR] Tyrell [Williams] leaving, obviously, we want to find somebody that can do some different things for us. It's a great opportunity for these guys to compete. One of the things that you really love about preseason is seeing guys grow, seeing them compete. Hopefully, somebody will stand out."
On running back depth:
"[RB] Melvin [Gordon III] is not here, you're right. Certainly, if you look at [RB] Austin [Ekeler] and you look at [RB] Justin [Jackson], they produced us — even [RB] Detrez [Newsome]. They produced for us last year in the latter half of the season at times when we needed them. That was nice. To get them back in here and go through the offseason where they're not rookies — Austin, obviously, wasn't [last year] — it has been a lot of fun. It's a good group. Once again, just like with some of these young receivers, we're fortunate to have them. We'll get a chance to see them in preseason and continue to grow with that."
On the offensive line:
"I'll tell you, both [T] Sam [Tevi] and [T] Trent [Scott] have done a great job for us. Sam played a lot last year. He played both sides and started a number of games. Trent got thrown in there as an undrafted rookie and played really well. We feel good about that group. We have [T Trey] Pipkins [III], as a young guy who is learning and growing. We obviously can't wait to get [T] Russell [Okung] back because he's a tremendous player and a good leader for us. He's still around and involved, but those guys will compete and we'll see how it all shakes out."
On RB Justin Jackson:
"Well, we get to see him. Last year at this time, we didn't see him very much in the preseason. He came in, worked hard, and when he got his changes, he performed well. What he did in-season, especially the Pittsburgh game comes to mind because of a couple of runs he had, especially in the fourth quarter — you're like, 'Was this a flash in the pan or is this a guy that can do it consistently?' His work in the offseason has shown that he's a legitimate guy. He works hard at it, he's very smart. He has this field vision that, I think, is unique for him. He sees a lot, he knows what's going on out there. We have a really good mix with that group of guys. The chemistry between them all is really good. We obviously miss Melvin [Gordon]. We love Melvin. He's a great player for us, but it is exciting to see these guys continue to progress."
On the use of an every-down back:
"I'll be honest with you, I don't know what an every-down back is in this league anymore. I think that, with what we do, all the different things that we and trying to create matchups, we're going to use a number of different guys. I think they have to be versatile and do a lot of things. I mean, you look at how all of those guys have grown since they've been here, as far as being receivers, doing things in space, lining up as a receiver. I mean, think about Austin [Ekeler] in Dallas a couple years ago where he caught the touchdown pass outside. It's the same thing against San Francisco, he did that. I think that gives us some versatility with those guys, where we can put them in different spots, keep everybody fresh. I've heard [Head] Coach [Anthony Lynn] say that himself, 'running back by committee.' That's kind of what the NFL has come to. I think we have some really good guys to do that with."
On TE Hunter Henry:
"He looks really good. It's great to have Hunter back. He's explosive, fast, obviously. He does a lot of things for us, whether it's lining up outside or it's inside as a blocker — even some of the stuff in the backfield. He's one of those unique guys that's a good combination of size and speed. He has great hands and a good feel in the run game. It's really exciting to have him because you can do some things with him just like we've done with some of our other guys that can hopefully give us some advantages. It's great to have Hunter back."
On Henry's blocking ability:
"I think he has always been a pretty good run-blocker. That's one of the reasons that we really liked him coming out of Arkansas. He did some conventional blocking in their system and was effective. We felt like, when you talk about tight ends being dual-threats — good blockers and good receivers — we feel like he's one of the top ones in that category. That certainly helps us."
On missing Henry last season:
"I think, obviously, we're blessed. We have some pretty good weapons. We have some guys that have produced for us. When you can add that to the mix, a guy like Hunter, it gives you more things that you can do. Listen, I'm going to tell you what, [TE] Virgil [Green] did a really good job for us last year. He stepped up and did a number of things. I think back to the second game of the year against Buffalo, I think it was, he made some big plays in that game with some catches. It was the second or third [game], but whatever it was — he had some big catches late in the season. When we played Denver at home and we were really good on third downs, we had some third-and-longs, he made some plays for us in there, which isn't where you necessarily see Virgil doing that. He has been tremendous, and when you get a guy like Hunter, it adds another guy so that we don't necessarily always have to have multiple receivers out there. Sometimes, we can go with two tight end, two receiver set. Sometimes, we can even go three tight ends. Back in 2017, when we had Hunter late in the season, wad some three tight end sets that were really effective for us as run and pass combinations. Those are the kinds of things that you can do when you have guys like that."
On G Forrest Lamp:
"I think that we're very pleased with how he has been working. It's great to see him out there on the field. [One] of the things that show up right now is his strength. One of the things that you really like about him on pulls, he can anchor down as a guard when he's setting. Those are things you really like. The big thing is going to be to see him in the preseason games in live-action. He was a good player in college. It's unfortunate that we haven't had him to be able to play as much as we would like, but we're really excited to have him back."
On WR Artavis Scott:
"He has [made some plays], but that's been characteristic of him even in the last couple of camps. He has always flashed and shown some plays. He has done it in OTAs, he has done it in camp. He hasn't always stayed healthy the whole way through camp, which has hurt him. That's the big thing for him, his availability. One of the things in this league is that you have to be available. He has worked hard in the offseason to try to make sure that he's in good shape because we're going to get a chance to see him do some things in the preseason that will give us a great indication of what he can do for us in the regular season."
On T Trey Pipkins III:
"I've been impressed with him. One of the things that really stands out about Trey is his intelligence. He's a highly-intelligent guy. I think, a lot of times, understanding the alignment of defensive ends as far as whether they're pinching, whether they're coming outside, understanding the schemes and how you set, where you put your hands. Those are all little things that can help you be a good player. I see that in him. Now, does that translate? He's a rookie. You don't know that yet, but I think, certainly, as we progress and get him into games, and see him go against other guys on other teams, I think we're going to be really happy with [him].
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS TIGHT END HUNTER HENRY
On his health:
"I'm feeling good, feeling awesome. It's getting better every single day. I think I'm gaining more and more confidence. I did that that in the spring, too, but definitely just being out here with the pads on. Just the run game and different things like that, just getting back into the rhythm of it is good."
On his relationship with QB Philip Rivers:
"I feel like it just picked up kind of right where we left off. I think there's always room to build and continue different routes and different concepts — maybe if he wants me in different places, but you know I know where he wants me most of the time. We've built a good relationship and good chemistry on the field. It's always fun to get back out here and continue to build on that."
On if he feels as explosive as he was two seasons ago:
"Yeah, I do, actually. I feel just as explosive, maybe even more. I feel great running right now. Obviously, sore from camp. Those days start stacking on and you get sore, but I'm staying on top of recovery and taking care of myself. I've been feeling good `every single day."
On his recovery:
"Every time I have a break, I'm trying to do as much as I can. Just bodywork, rolling out, stretching, just staying on top of things before they happen. Not that I didn't do that in the past, but I have to do that kind of extra now. That's the biggest thing. Any time I'm away from the practice field or anything, I try to stay on top of stretching, rolling out and just staying on top of the muscle recovery."
On how he feels compared to the postseason game:
"I was good then. I was not where I am now, that's for sure. That's what is awesome, just in the mental part of it. I was good then and I felt good. I was able to play in the game and this stuff, but where I feel now compared to then and just being able to play in the game then, it's just helped with my confidence and little things like that. I'm very confident in my knee. I don't really even think about it. I don't think about it happening."
On looking forward to playing games:
"Oh yeah, any time you're playing football, just pain-free. I think there's a little extra fun, it's always fun. When you're going through an injury and you're kind of grinding through some pain and going through a little bit, sometimes football is kind of a grind. It makes it a little more of a grind, but anytime you can get out there, feel good and just have fun playing. Last year gave me a big-time appreciation for the game, just being away from it. That's the biggest thing. You don't know to realize what you have until it's taken away from you. That happened to me last year and I had to learn from it. It gave me a big appreciation just coming out here every single day and enjoying it."
On teammates he leaned on during his recovery:
"Oh yeah, shoot, everybody. [LB] Nick Dzubnar, [WR] Keenan [Allen], obviously, and then [DE] Melvin [Ingram III]. I talked to Melvin a lot just because we kind of had the same process. Those three guys were big. I mean I talked to everybody, that had gone through it. Everybody was very helpful and helped me out in a lot of different areas that I really needed."
On if he needs extra reps in the preseason:
"I don't know. I definitely want to get in there in the games and just kind of get back in the rhythm. A game is, obviously, way different than being out here when it's live and full-go, but out here you're still getting dumped, you're getting pushed and different things like that. Especially when we are practicing against other teams, that intensity kind of goes up even more. We are gonna have four or five practices against the Rams and Saints coming up, too. That intensity level is gonna be high. I definitely want those game reps, but I don't feel like I need a ton just to get back on the rhythm. I definitely need a few, but it's just as competitive out here and going against [S] Derwin [James Jr.] and the guys on defense — [LB] Thomas [Davis Sr.], [DE] Joey [Bosa], [Melvin] Mel [Ingram]. It's always good and helps me get back into the rhythm. "
On practicing against S Derwin James Jr.:
"It's fun, man. He's a great player. He's super athletic, super long and he's really smart, too. That's the thing that I think people don't know. He's very good at reading your routes and you can't give a lot away to him. He's athletic, so he can recover on a lot of things. You have to be very technically sound and detailed, but it's fun — it's a lot of fun. It makes me a better player every single day and we love going against each other. It's kind of back-and-forth every day."
On development of his relationship with Rivers:
"Oh man, it's come a long way, definitely. You know, I think we hit it off early — we definitely did, but you go through the years, you go through games, you go through training camps, you go through times like this and that relationship continues to build. I have a great relationship with Phil. He's an awesome guy, really easy to get along with and be around, so it's exciting to be back out here with him to continue to build chemistry and just have fun."
On his run blocking:
"You know, I take big-time pride in the run game — I definitely do. I think that's one of the biggest things, actually. I feel great in the passing game right now. I think the biggest thing, for me, is in the running game and just nailing it down right now. Getting back in the rhythm of my steps and the details of that — I take big-time pride in that because I want to be a guy that's not a liability in that. That also helps me in the passing game. When I'm blocking well, I feel like it sets everything up in the passing game. It just keeps defenses off-balance. I think that's a big thing I'm trying to focus on out here, getting back to that level."
On if he cares about personal goals:
"Oh yeah. I mean you definitely care. I think my No. 1 goal this year is just playing all 16 games. That's my No. 1 goal, first off, is just staying healthy for all 16 because I haven't been able to do that yet. Especially missing last year, out the whole year, my No. 1 goal is to be out there every single game. If I'm out there every single game, I think those things will just begin to come. I have those things on my own that I kind of keep track of, but my No. 1 goal is playing all 16."
On learning while he was injured last season:
"Oh it was huge. I think it helped me in my rehab first off, just to push me being around the team. It just pushed me to want to get back out there. You know, there were those dog days of rehab where it's just a grind, man. You're just tired of it, almost. You're four months in and you're like, ‘Shoot, I still have maybe four months to five months [of sitting on the sideline].’ It's tough and that helped a lot, but just being away from it, I was able to watch more, I think. Sometimes, when you're in it, you're locked in on different things, but I was able to watch, you know, kind of the whole scheme of things of the offense and defensive concepts. I watched [TE Antonio] Gates a lot, too, especially being older and just seeing how he would break things down in the routes and different things like that — it was a lot of fun to have him again."
On if he worries about being rolled up on in game action:
"No, you can't think about it, man. You can't think about that at all. You know, if it happens, it happens. I've been rolled up before, and you just get up and you're fine. So it could happen, but I'm not really going to think about it."
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS QUARTERBACK TYROD TAYLOR
On being the top quarterback in practice:
“It felt good. It’s always good to get out and compete. You get a chance to run the show. Every time you step in the huddle whether it’s with the ones, twos or threes, wherever you’re out there leading you’re always in charge. It was good to get some reps with the ones, build some chemistry with some guys and also challenge myself today. It was good.”
On the depth at wide receiver:
“It’s a bunch of talent. Like you said, a bunch of depth at that position. Each and every day, those guys bring their best game and compete. You can tell those guys love getting after it. We need that out of them each and every day. Of course, once the game starts, we’re going to need that out of each and every person. I think just competing, in general, brings out the best in everyone. When it comes to competition and depth, that receiver group is definitely one of a kind.”
On similarities to the offense he played in Buffalo:
“Yes, it’s some of the stuff we ran running game-wise in Buffalo. I think scheme-wise I’ve also been a part of some of the things [QB] Philip [Rivers] has done earlier in his career with another coordinator that we have worked together with, too. A lot of stuff that coming back to me. At the end of the day it’s going out there, playing fast, making the right decisions and getting the ball to the play-makers hands regardless of what scheme it is. That’s what it boils down to. Each day, I’m challenging myself to go out and do that.”
On wearing a sweatshirt in the heat:
“It’s not hot. It’s not hot at all. It's either a hoodie or a long sleeve, I sweat a bunch. Not to get into detail, but [I don't want it to] run on my hands. I try to trap the sweat. It’s not hot, though.”
On the weather compared to Buffalo:
“I mean, this time of year, it’s pretty warm in all places. The first couple of days it was hot, but today is overcast for the most part. It feels good.”
On giving back to kids:
“Giving back to the kids has always been something important to me because I was once [one of] those little kids. I needed a dream or had a dream. I had hope in guys that were at the professional level and guys that I idolized came back to the community and made that dream a reality, in my eyes. So anything I can do to help those kids achieve their dreams, I’m all for it.”
On WR Artavis Scott:
“He’s a very quick, confident receiver. He's strong with his hands. He’s making plays day after day and we’re going to need him to continue to do that and stay healthy. You can’t necessarily control some of the things that happen on the football field, but we pray that he stays healthy and he’ll definitely be able to contribute to this team.”
On Scott’s best quality:
“I would say his quickness. He knows how to separate when in traffic. In man-to-man coverage he does a good job of separating and creating space for the [quarterbacks] to give him the ball.”
On his former statement of the expectations for the team:
“I stand by that comment. There is a lot of leadership on this team, a lot of experience on this team and a lot of talent on this team. One of the things that sticks out to me is the unity that you have in the locker room and on the field. Of course guys compete, but they also take care of one another. It's just the camaraderie the guys have on this team. [They] do a great job of competing every day, bringing that level of competitiveness that you need to better yourself, but also better your teammates. Across the board, there’s talent at every position and I think you see that when you watch the practice field. Of course, that doesn’t just win you championships, there’s a lot of work that has to be done and a lot of work you have to put in. Each and every day, we’re challenging ourselves on offense, defense and special teams to be better than we were before and, at the end of the day, see what we can get.”
On similarities between to Baltimore's championship team:
“Yes, I do. I mean, that was seven, eight years ago, but I definitely see a lot of similarities in it. I mean that team that won the Super Bowl, we weren’t perfect by any means. We didn’t sweep or run through the league. We had our ups and downs, but we were able to weather the storm and I think the right personalities and the right experience at different positions allow you to do that. I think we have that here. Like I said, that’s all talk right now. It’s training camp. Everyone has the same dream, but the work has to be done and we’re doing it each and every day to give ourselves a chance to go out there and compete for a Super Bowl.”
On if there has been anything that has surprised him since signing with the Chargers:
“I didn’t know what to expect, so a lot of things. Just taking it day-by-day. Like I said, the talent that we have across the roster is definitely something that stands out. Of course, I played against the team, but that’s one thing — once you’re in the locker room and you see guys day-to-day, you see what their strengths and weaknesses are of different guys. Like I said, it’s a very talented group of guys. With the right work that they have put in, something special could be made.”
On QB Easton Stick:
“Yes, we’re all learning, pushing each other each and every day. He’s learning the playbook just like any other rookie would, but he's confident, going out and competing, putting his best foot forward. He doesn’t carry one practice to the next. Like I said, it’s a process. Early on there’s a lot of information being thrown and typically around day four, day five a lot of things start to compound on you, but he’s doing a good job of going out and keeping a clear mind and competing.”
On learning from QB Philip Rivers:
“It’s awesome. Philip is a smart guy, very smart. He's seen a bunch on the football field. Played a bunch of games, obviously. There's a lot I can take from him. Each and every day, I learn something new from him. I'm always writing things down and just trying to pick his brain on how he sees the game. Of course, we're two totally different style of [quarterbacks], but at the same time, the name of the game is to get the ball out fast and he does a great job of doing that.”
On his expectations of Rivers:
“[I want to] soak up as much knowledge as possible. Like I said, the guy who has played as many games as he has, been in the league as long as he has, and the experience he’s had, of course you want to pick his brain and that’s what I’ve been able to do. I’m going to continue to keep doing that. It keeps him sharp, but it also allows me to grow as a player, too.”
On leading alongside Rivers:
“I’ve always been a guy that’s found different ways to lead. Everyone has their own way of leading. Of course, there will be definitely times where you have to speak up. Of course, he’s the starting QB, so you don’t overshadow, but at the same time, you lead in certain ways. Whether that’s leading by example, speaking up when you have to — not that I’m stepping on his toes or anything. If I see something, he wants me to call it out, too. You find ways to work around that. As you continue to keep working with one another, you learn different personalities and you learn how to blend in as far as leadership goes. I think leadership at every position, whether it’s Philip, whether it’s [LB Thomas] TD [Davis Sr. ] — just throughout the locker room — whether it’s [NT Brandon] Mebane or [C Mike] Pounce [Pouncey]. There are a bunch of guys that have the opportunity to lead because they’ve been around football. They know what it takes to get to certain places. It’s about us collectively coming together and doing whatever it takes to help take this team to the next level.”
On TE Hunter Henry:
“He's very special. He reminds me of [TE] Dennis Pitta. I know Pitta doesn’t play now due to injuries — but the savviness, the catching ability, the route running, [Henry] reminds me a lot of [Pitta]. Pitta was big for us in Baltimore. Hunter will be big for us here in L.A. Hunter is definitely a special talent and I’m happy to see him out on the field, going out without any restrictions and competing each and every day.”