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Transcript - Training Camp (July 28, 2018)

Saturday, July 28, 2018 | Jack Hammett Sports Complex | Costa Mesa, Calif.


On the first day of training camp:

"I thought it went well. The guys competed. They had some good film on tape to coach. [It was] a good first day."

On CB Jason Verrett's injury:

"You know, we all know how hard Jason has worked to come back. He's one of our leaders that wasn't on the field and to see him go down just running like that, just running striders, it was hard to see. It was very emotional. We love him. He's in our prayers and we know he'll bounce back."

On how Verrett got injured:

"It was just conditioning. We were just running striders and it just popped on him. He's having an MRI today, so I don't know for sure, but we felt like it was [his] Achilles. He thought it was [his] Achilles. We don't know for sure yet until he has his MRI. It was just running."

On if he talked to Verrett:

"Yeah we talked. We talked and right now, his heart's broken because he wants to be there with his teammates."

On if Verrett will have a locker room presence this year:

Jason is always welcome back to come here. I love his leadership. I love what he brings to our team. Just in our locker room when he's not on the field. He's just a leader — a natural leader.

On using CB Desmond King at safety:

"It's real important [for me to get a look at him at that position] because we know he can play in the slot. He did a good job of that last year, but we like guys to have a little more position flexibility, so we can play them at free safety, throw them in the slot. That would help."

On DB Jaylen Watkins:

"I thought Jaylen did a good job. He was in position. There was one play where he could have made a play on the ball, but he may have gone through his teammates and pulled up and I just thought that was a very intelligent play by him. I like his demeanor back there."

On his second year as a head coach:

"I can say I definitely feel a little bit more comfortable, knowing what to expect, not moving and not living out of boxes, knowing where we're going to training camp and similar coaching staff and players — definitely more comfortable."

On if his expectations have changed since his first year:

"No, the expectation is the same. That hasn't changed one bit."

On S Derwin James:

"He's day-to-day right now. He worked on the other field today and he's running well. We're just being real cautious with him. It's a lower hamstring. If he had a game today, he could have played but we're just trying to take care of him and be cautious."

On G Forrest Lamp's progress:

"Forrest is on track. I'm not going to put a timetable on players, but he is right on schedule from what I can see."


On the environment this season after a year in Los Angeles:

"I think so. I think now, it's just more football. There's not as much wondering about schedules and what the practice field was going to be like. There's not as much of that uncertainty. It's all football now. There's definitely a level of comfort that I think we have now and we can just put our focus on the field."

On the support of the fan base:

"I always thought that [fans] come with winning games, especially when you're in a new community. I think we felt that at the stadium last year as the year went on and as we were hot in that second half of the year. The energy in the stadium and the feeling in the stadium was different as the year went. Hopefully, we can get off to a better start this year and kind of start where we left off, and get it going right off the bat."

On the first day of training camp:

"Shoot, I thought there was some good and some bad. I think it was a typical first day. We have a long way to go. To me, that's going to be one of the biggest keys for us as a [team and offense], is just that daily focus. I know it's a boring answer, but taking it one day at a time and just keeping our head down and working. We know there are a lot of expectations on the outside. We have those same expectations on the inside. I think it's not worrying about what we hope and believe is going to happen this season, but have to make sure we keep our heads down one day at a time and we can be really good. There was some good today, some flashes. Again, we have some work to do, but I thought it was a good start."

On how he felt watching the playoffs:

"I don't know that you play the 'what if,' game, but there are certain years when you went 4-12 and you don't have the same feeling as you did last year when you were a game out, you lost a couple the way we did early and the way we were capable of playing. You always believe when you trot out there that you're going to win, but some years when the season is over and emotions leave you can acknowledge that maybe we couldn't really have won it all that particular year had we gotten in. Last year was one of those where I really believed if we would have gotten in, we would have had a real chance to win it all. That's what made it sting even worse. As we go into this year, everybody is excited. We're all 0-0, but I do believe we have a chance to have a special team. We have to keep that boring one day at a time approach and keep getting better."

On external expectations:

"It's interesting because it's been a while. I've been on some teams here that had those expectations and we went out and did it year after year there for a while. It's been a long time, though. There aren't many guys that have been through that on this team, but they have in other places. I think it's a good thing because, again, we have those same expectations. It's not like, 'Oh no, what do we do?' It's that we believe we can do that also. What I think is key is not to think that it's just going to happen because it's hard and we haven't done it in a long time. I think it's okay to be excited about it with those expectations and believe that — because that's why you play, those goals down the road — but it's not getting bored with the one day at a time. [It's to] get focused for this walkthrough this afternoon and then stack one day after another so that we can get there because it's not just going to happen."

On WR Mike Williams:

"It was great to have Mike out there. I know for Mike, he has high expectations of himself. In his mind, he wants to come out and prove himself. We've all seen flashes. We believe in Mike and what he can do. He's going to have to, again, be patient with himself and just keep stacking days. He made a few plays today. You know what he's capable of, it's just going to be how consistent and can he be out there every single day, and keep growing with this group? It's a really diverse group. You throw in [WR] Keenan [Allen], [WR] Travis [Benjamin], [WR] Tyrell [Williams] and there are a handful of other guys who are competing like crazy. It's one heck of a group a wide receiver."

On how he stays excited about the mundane of 15 training camps:

"I think you have to care about the little details and find ways each day to bear down and believe that everything matters. I think that's the thing. Just because it's a play that you've repped a million times, it still matters — right now — this play matters even though we've done it a million times. It's just the little things. It's the 15th year, but if you can't have fun doing this and being around your buddies and working hard and competing, you're in the wrong business. I do think it's difficult, but I don't think it's something that we can't do."

Thoughts of having TE Antonio Gates possibly coming back:

"I have had some dialogue with Antonio. I keep that between us. I think [General Manager] Tom [Telesco] has spoken on it some. I guess we'll see what happens. As I told you last time I talked about it, I'd be super excited if 85 [Gates] trotted back out here at some point, but if not, we believe in the guys we have. There's a lot of young guys that just haven't played a lot. [TE] Virgil [Green] has played a lot, but a lot of the younger guys haven't played a lot. We're going to have to work and work and work. This gives us a lot of opportunities to work with them and find out who can have which role and fill in [TE] Hunter's [Henry] absence."


On if Mike Williams can make up for the loss of TE Hunter Henry:

"I think that Wiz [Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt], [Head] Coach [Anthony] Lynn, all of our offensive staff — I think we've shown the ability to be flexible and really do anything and adapt in any circumstance. Does that mean four wide receivers in some scenarios? Who knows, but with Mike, with our size, Keenan [Allen] is big in there in the slot. I mean we can do lots of things and it doesn't eliminate the run game as well. That's not something we've even discussed, but I wouldn't rule that out just with our creativity and things we've done in the past to try ways to get first downs and score. We'll do whatever we have to do."

On if Gates can still be effective at his age:

"I do. I think he would be the first to admit that he's not the same player he was when he was 28, but I think we saw in the last few weeks of last season that once Hunter went down that he could still do it. He can find ways to get open — made catches in that Jets game and Raiders game. He made plays, third down conversions. I don't like speaking 'what ifs'. We could be talking about something that never happens, but certainly if ownership, Tom and Coach feel strong enough and he is back, then there's certainly no doubt I believe he can still help us."

On how his relationship with Gates has been:

"It's been weird because we kind of went through the, 'it looks like it's over,' process back in the spring, and that's always hard because it comes to an end for everybody. Who knows if he was going to go place somewhere else, but you know it doesn't last forever. I think it was just another reminder over the years from LT [Hall of Fame RB LaDainian Tomlinson]. I could name a ton of guys, that you know you aren't going to be here forever. It's a good reminder to enjoy the boring. It's really not boring. I hate to call it boring, but to just enjoy every day that you've done so many times because at some point it ends. Whether that's been the case for Gates, I don't know. Will he get one more shot and be back out here? We would certainly embrace that and enjoy it of he did."

On if the fan atmosphere has been exciting:

"It is. It always is. I think that's when you know — if you're not excited about the first day of training camp, that's when you know you're probably trying to hang on. I was excited to get back out here today. It's always the good kind of butterflies at your first practice back, and shoot, we have a game in two weeks, and then it really goes once it gets there. A lot of expectations. Again, those expectations are internal. We're excited about what we can do, but we're really focused on just one day at a time."

On the importance of building a connection with the young guys:

"It is important. I think when you have guys that have played as much as Keenan [Allen] has played, established himself, and Travis [Benjamin] and Tyrell [Williams] — you want to keep those guys fresh. Mike [Williams] needs all the reps he can get. [WR] Artavis [Scott] and a guy like [WR] Geremy [Davis] and [WR] Dylan [Cantrell] who got drafted. The more times they can get in there and get in those first couple huddles and get that work, I think it's super valuable for them and for myself and the other quarterbacks to work with them. Artavis, I guess I've always thought of him as a smaller receiver, but he plays really big. He's a strong guy. Some people just change their number and they automatically look better, and I think he's one of those — not that he looked bad in 82, but in 10 it's right away. He's right out there and he's a better player. He looks better and shoot, he got off to a good start today."


On the importance of focusing on the little things:

"Very important. That's what makes the team that brought the comradery together."

On CB Jason Verrett's injury:

"It was unexpected. Devastating. Emotional. Especially for him, I've been in that boat before. Obviously, his is at a much [higher] magnitude. Hopefully, he can do what he has to do to come back because I'm definitely looking forward to seeing him play. I hope he comes back."

On the team's expectations:

"I think it does a great thing for our confidence as a team, but it is something that we had to move past and just deal with what we had to do. We actually [have to] come out here and put the work in and make it happen."

On WR Mike Williams:

"I thought he did a great job today. [He] did a couple of good things in one-on-ones and had a couple of good routes in team [periods]. He just has to pick up on the speed of the game, which will come with time, and he will be great."


On WR Artavis Scott:

"Artavis Scott is a baller. He showed it today. He was balling again, just like he was in OTA's and hopefully he can find a place on the team."

On his offseason:

"I didn't want to take a break after OTAs. Just wanted to keep everything going and didn't want to have a setback. I only took one vacation and just stayed close to football."

On keeping high energy throughout camp:

"Just keep it all football. Don't worry about the media, don't worry about the other things. Just keep everything football and go play football."

On the sports landscape in Los Angeles:

"I don't really think about it. I just worry about me, I just play football and I just happen to play for the L.A. Chargers. When it comes to Sunday, I'm going to put this jersey one and do my thing."

On what he is trying to prove this season:

"I just want to come out and play another 16 games and let my game speak for itself."


On if there is a different level of focus or excitement when expectations are high:

"You know we already expect the most when we come out here and practice like this. It never matters what anyone says, we know got a great team and our expectations are high. At every position, we're out here competing, out here finishing. We just want to be the team we know we can be. Yeah, expectations are high, but we make them higher than other people make them."

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