Through four games, Chargers rookie outside linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu has been hard to stop.
The Chargers 2023 second-round pick has flashed through the quarter mark of the season and stepped up in a big way due to injuries among the Bolts edge rushers. Through four games, Tuipulotu has 2.0 sacks, four tackles for loss and five quarterback hits.
But what doesn't show up on the stat sheet is how he's opened up some sacks for others over the first four weeks of the season, drawing the attention of offensive lines early.
The Athletic released their early All-Rookie team through the quarter mark of the season, with Tuipulotu making the list at edge rusher.
NFL Staff Writer Diante Lee pointed out how some of the rookie's traits that made him successful at the collegiate level has translated early on in the pros.
Just like in his final season at USC, Tuipulotu is producing with a relentless motor and hand-fighting skills. He's second among all rookie edge rushers in total pressures (14) and just a shade behind Anderson in pressure rate.
But it's not like Tuipulotu's success early on has only been rushing the passer.
The rookie has excelled in the run, showing the knack for getting to the ballcarrier on the edges.
Through four games, Tuipulotu leads all rookie edge rushers in run stops with nine, according to Pro Football Focus. He also has the highest grade among rookies in that department with a 74.6 run-stopping grade.
One of Tuipulotu's best all-around performances in the early part of the season came in Week 3 against the Vikings, where he generated 10 quarterback pressures (a 27-percent pressure rate), good for the second-most pressures by a rookie in a single game in the Next Gen Stats era.
Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley praised the rookie outside linebacker following that performance, as he believes Tuipulotu has shown flashes since he joined the building and will only get better.
"Is he ahead of schedule? I think he's on schedule. I think he's right on schedule," Staley said on the Monday after Tuipulotu's Week 3 performance. "This guy, we had a strong feeling about this guy in the springtime. That was without pads. When we got him in pads, I think in training camp… I think they would tell you that you knew he was going to be a factor."
"You're seeing him play starter reps," Staley later added. "You guys know what type of performance he had [in Week 3] with the 10 pressures, which is among the highest rookie pressures since 2016 — since they started keeping that statistic. Then, the sack production. Just the physicality and toughness in the run game. He's an improving player with a lot to learn. I said it [after Week 3]. A lot to learn. He's going to improve a lot. He's the right guy to be coaching."
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