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Brandon Staley Era Begins Against Washington

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"I really like how he is every day right now," Staley said. "He comes into the facility and there's an energy where you can tell that he's enjoying working at his game. I think that's been fun for us. He's a ball guy. When things don't go well, he can respond quickly, which is so much of being a competitor, being able to overcome things quickly and keep it moving.

On Wednesday, Asante Samuel Jr. got Staley’s blessing to start as the second corner on the Chargers’ defense. A start on Sunday would be a notable accomplishment as he would be the first Chargers rookie cornerback to start in his NFL debut since Sammy Davis did back in 2003. Safety Derwin James spoke highly of the rookie corner on Wednesday.

"Asante's come a long way," James said. "He's always had the talent, he's always had the athleticism but now he's another guy that's communicating, he's alerting splits he's doing everything now. Just seeing guys like Nasir Adderley, Asante talking, everybody's talking more, communicating more, and it's only going to help our defense."

A lot of focus has also been put on the excitement around quarterback, Justin Herbert's second season in the NFL. Herbert talked about his growing relationship with Staley heading into the first game of the season.

"When coach Staley came in, he built a relationship immediately with all the players," he said. "And that's something that he really wanted to set up. I remember getting the call maybe 30 or 45 minutes after everyone found out [Staley was hired as head coach] and that meant a lot to me for him to reach out to me and let me know. He's done an incredible job."

On Friday, Chargers' running back Austin Ekeler returned to practice as a limited participant after not participating in Wednesday and Thursday's practice. Although Ekeler is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury for Sunday's game, Staley said Ekeler "looked good out there" and is optimistic he'll play.

Wheels up to Washington

While the Chargers prepared for the dynamic group of players in Ryan Fitzpatrick, Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson, members of the Washington Football Team had a lot to say about the Chargers as well.

One of the key matchups talked about this week was the rematch between Rashawn Slater and Washington DT Chase Young, this time in the NFL. On Thursday, Slater talked about how much the two have grown since their days at Ohio State and Northwestern.

"He's taken big steps since he's been in the NFL," he said. "So, he's definitely a more refined player than what I saw in college. So, I'm excited to go and do that again, it's really cool to have that matchup, someone I've gone against in the past as my first game."

Defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill said on Thursday that Washington's offense will be a great test for the Chargers defensive scheme. Within that scheme he sees a chance for a second-year player to make a big jump in his play: linebacker Kenneth Murray.

"He's worked extremely hard," he said. "We talked about him playing downhill and being a 'backer and being able to run down sideline to sideline. He has all those traits and I'm excited to watch him do it this weekend."

The Chargers head out to Washington Saturday and are set to kickoff the season on Sunday, September 12th at 10 a.m. PT.

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