Rookie Mini Camp marks the first step for what the more than 50 players on the field at Chargers Park hope is a long NFL career. It's only the first step in a long offseason that will shape their future.
Day one was about getting the players acclimated to life on the field as Chargers. While Head Coach Mike McCoy was pleased with the overall progress of how the players fared, he admitted they still have a long way to go.
"Some outstanding work today," McCoy said. "We've got a long way to go, but the most important thing today is to kind of introduce the players into how we do things and how the practices are formatted. The most important thing is learning how we do things and (have them) start picking up all the mental parts of our systems... (There was) a lot of communication out there between the coaches and the players which is great. It's what we look forward to as coaches. We sit in that meeting room all offseason (with) all the preparation for the draft, and now it's time to start playing football for real."
"Execution was a little bit tough coming out here," mentioned inside linebacker Joshua Perry. "I haven't had a ton of time. I haven't had a ton of walkthroughs so I know there's going to be a lot to clean up. Guys are getting along; there was a lot of energy out there so I think that's really good. Everybody's just out here trying to work hard."
One of the things many of the newest members of the squad want to accomplish is getting the playbook down. Having received it this week, many are still trying to delve into it as deeply as possible to adapt to the new terminology and memorize plays for their practices on the field.
"We had a few days to kind of get the playbook down, install some things and watch a few clips on film," fullback Derek Watt mentioned. "We had a little bit of a walkthrough (Friday), which kind of got us acclimated to being in a huddle, hearing the call and doing the stuff at the line of scrimmage."
"I (haven't) been getting a lot of sleep!" added quarterback Mike Bercovici. "I know (Quarterbacks Coach Shane) Steichen has been laughing because I'm pretty much here at 5am and don't go to sleep until around midnight. Every single day it's been getting better and better just because I'm starting to learn it and…I can start to piece things together as I'm learning along."
Rookie Mini Camp is also the first time these players have taken the field since their collegiate programs ended. Although it seems obvious, another goal for the rookies is to continue to hone their skills and refine their games.
"I want to get used to playing football again," added tight end Hunter Henry. "I've been training to be a track athlete for a while. Now it's back to football. I'm working on getting the techniques down, hand placement, footwork, power, my hips; focusing on everything like that. And then I need to get in tune with the offense and get where I need to be as fast as I can. I know what I've got to do. I just want to play fast and get there."
"It's been awesome getting to wake up and think about football every day," mentioned Joey Bosa. "I haven't really seen the sun other than being out (watching) practice and working out. It's been awesome being here."
Finally, with so many players and so little time, it's clear mental reps are just as important as physical ones. Head Coach Mike McCoy said he hopes his players take in everything the coaches have to say because they cannot take every physical rep. Ultimately, being attentive will help their progress throughout the rest of the offseason.
"The hardest part I think is the mental part," he said. "You're coming from a different place and they called it one thing or another. You want to tell them it's still football, but there's so much thinking going on. We want to get to the point come training camp (that you) put yourself in a position to just go out there, play and try to make the football team. They have a long way to go. It's day one install and it's going to pick up once we get to the OTAs. We're going to keep on going. We're not waiting for them; they have to go at our pace…. The most important thing is they have to just take it a day at a time. They're going to make some mistakes and they understand that. We're going to coach them hard and there's a way we want to get it done and they've just got to learn from it."