Skip to main content

Chargers Official Site | Los Angeles Chargers -

How Tuli Tuipulotu Made Himself Better in His 1st NFL Offseason

Tuli FTP 05.29

Chargers outside linebackers Tuli Tuipulotu and Bud Dupree, linebacker Troy Dye and defensive line coach Mike Elston took the podium Wednesday at Hoag Performance Center during Phase Three of the offseason program.

Below are three takeaways from their media availabilities Wednesday afternoon:

Year 2 for Tuli

Tuli Tuipulotu had a lot of time on his hands this offseason.

"The biggest difference [this year] is actually having an offseason," Tuipulotu said with a smile. "I had so much time, I didn't even know what to do with it."

A year ago, the Chargers had just drafted the USC edge rusher, who had come off the Combine and Pro Day training curcuit.

Things changed for the Chargers 2023 second-round pick from his then to now, both from a scheduling perspective and also a mindset perspective.

With a whole season of play under his belt, Tuipulotu was clear on what he wanted to accomplish has he headed towards his second season in the NFL.

"I think going into the offseason, I had a good idea of what I needed to work on," Tuipulotu said. "I don't think it was that hard to figure out what I needed to work on."

Tuipulotu stepped up in a big way in his rookie season and became one of the more important members of the defense as injuries hit the team.

He racked up 4.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and 12 quarterback hits in his debut campaign, all valuable figures for a rookie.

But still, he felt like he left some on the table and made sure to work and try to correct that this offseason.

"I would just say my get off and my pass rush," Tuipulotu said about what he worked on. "I think a lot of people thought I had a good impact in the pass rush game, but I felt like I left so much stuff on the field. I had a lot of opportunities to make more plays and didn't take advantage of it.

"So going into the offseason, I needed to work on my get off, getting to the point and my pass rush hand moves," Tuipulotu added. "All that stuff."

Tuipulotu shared that he was excited when he heard the news that Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack would return to the Bolts in 2024, as the group grew close during his first year alongside them.

And of course, he was also fired up when Head Coach Jim Harbaugh was hired, who he has enjoyed learning from throughout these first couple of months.

"I think the fans showed how excited we are that we hired such an experienced coach of winning and that's what we want to do here. We want to win," Tuipulotu said. "We're excited, we just have to take the opportunity and run with it. Having a coach with that much experience, been to the Super Bowl and all that.

"We just want to win," Tuipulotu added.

For as much as Tuipulotu had success in his rookie season, he's looking build on it and take it even further in Year 2.

A mix in the DL room

The Chargers defensive line offers the mix of experienced veterans and young players that have shown their potential — and defensive line coach Mike Elston couldn't be more excited to take over such a group in his first NFL stop.

The experienced coach was one of the members of Michigan to make the jump to the NFL with Harbaugh and has gotten the chance to work with familiar faces like Defensive Coordinator Jesse Minter.

Elston spoke about the entirety of the room and what he was most excited about coaching in his first NFL season.

"It's a great group," Elston said. "Both from the D-Tackle room where you have guys like Morgan Fox and now Poona Ford. Some veteran guys who've played a lot of football. There's great leadership in that room.

"Then when you get into the edge room with Joey, Khalil and now Bud [Dupree], Tuli had a great season, it's a talented group and leadership all across the board," Elston added. "It's a very veteran group, experienced group. Putting the pieces where we need to put them in different situations is going to be the fun part."

At this point in the offseason, Elston spends some of his time with the defensive tackles, while defensive assistant Dylan Roney works with the edge rushers.

It's a similar plan to what they had together at Michigan but as the season gets closer, the group will work together more and more.

And in his work with the defensive tackles early in the process Elston spoke glowingly about the entire room including the younger players, each who brings something different.

"I'm impressed with all of them," Elston said.

"Scott Matlock and Chris Hinton, Jerrod Clark are developing and doing a great job," Elston later added. "Very impressed with all of them. CJ Okoye is doing great, [Otito Ogbonnia] is phenomenal. I think we have a very strong room."

He also talked about fourth-round pick Justin Eboigbe, who has transitioned well in his first month with the team.

"The draft pick with Justin, he's a worker, he was trained very well at Alabama and does a lot of the similar things we do here in this system," Elston said. "It's been an easy transition for him. It's a really good room."

Elston later added: "He's got a good blend. Right now I'd say he's heavier on block destruction and run defense. I think he can become a really good pass rusher. He's working on those tools right now."

Early stages of new kickoff rule

The NFL's new kickoff rule is something that will take some getting used to around the NFL.

One thing the players are noticing right away? It's going to be a quick moving play.

"It's crazy," Tuipulotu said. "I think it's really fast."

"I think my very first rep on kick off, I ran straight, and [Derius Davis] was already past me," Tuipulotu added with a laugh. "I was like, 'Damn, I didn't even get a chance to make a move yet'. We're going to have to adjust."

The Bolts spent some time during Wednesday's open OTA session on the new look play that includes a different setup than before.

In the set-up zone, the kicking team will line up at the opposing 40-yard line, with the receiving team's blockers five yards away. Kickers are now incentivized to kick into the "landing zone" between the goal line and its 20-yard line, and players cannot move until it is caught or hits the ground.

It's a lot of different things to pick up, but OTAs and the rest of the offseason is the perfect time to work on it.

"It's definitely a different feel," linebacker Troy Dye said. "I don't think there's anything you can emulate or kind of go off,' Oh, this is what it's kind of like'. Because one guy is dropping three to five yards, and the other guy is going on a five-yard head start. It's kind of just how it plays out."

Still though, Dye believes the rule is going to take some adjustment even heading into the season.

"I think the first couple of weeks there's going to be some explosive plays and probably some turnovers," Dye said. "You never know what's going to happen, but once guys get used to their drops and how to take on that quick, five-yard or 10-yard span it's going to get really fast and pretty physical.

"I think it's going to be interesting how the preseason works or how the first couple weeks of the season really go," Dye added.

Dye, who is very familiar with Ryan Ficken from their two years together in Minnesota, credited the Chargers Special Teams Coordinator for the work put in thus far on the new rule as it will be something that is going to take some time.

"Coach Fick, they've done a really good job of bringing great clips of the XFL that they had last year and kind of do it a little bit different," Dye said. "But it's still a bit different from the XFL in when you can leave and when the ball touches the ground and things of that nature.

"It's kind of hard to find tape that is perfect for it," Dye added. "So it's going to have to wait until Week 1, Week 2 of the regular season after you build up some preseason tape and see what it really looks like."

Related Content

From Our Partners