Chargers Training Camp Observations: Offense, Defense Exchange Wins, Intensity Picks Up and Other Notes From Day 3

Observations and notes from the third day of Chargers training camp.

COSTA MESA – The Chargers completed Day 3 of training camp on Friday at Jack Hammett Sports Complex. The team worked third down situations for a large portion of the team period, uplifting the energy a step further in comparison to the first two days.

Here are my observations and notes from the Chargers third training camp practice of the summer:

Intensity picks up on Day 3

Practice Friday signaled a page was turned. The first two days of training camp featured high-level energy throughout, but Day 3 insinuated a different tone. The intensity was elevated a couple notches.

“We’re starting to pick up our intensity as we’re getting more familiar and getting back into the rhythm of football. Just getting back on our feet takes a little bit. The intensity today was the highest that it’s been, so that’s good. That means people are starting to understand, people are starting to feel like themselves again, and so the competition is rising before we get into pads.”

Staley followed Ekeler’s viewpoint by stating that the third down situations brought out a different level of juice from the players.

“I thought that it was a really competitive practice,” Staley said. “I liked the first two practices, but today you added third downs and those types of situations. I think it will bring out the best in people. We had a great crowd, which, I think, brings out the best in the group, too. I felt like it was a very, very competitive day on both sides.”

Offense responds to a defense-heavy first two days

The defense won the first two days of camp, but Day 3 included a more neutral outcome. The offensive play of the day included Justin Herbert connecting with Keenan Allen over the middle, placing the ball in a tight window over Nasir Adderley for a 30-yard gain.

Tight end Gerald Everett had his most active day as he and Herbert continue building up their chemistry with one another. Everett caught a 10-yard pass to the sideline just pass the sticks for a first down, followed by a 25-yard pickup a few plays later in which he broke free over the top.

“Gerald’s been awesome to work with. I was able to be with him on the other side of the ball at the Rams, so I got a good snapshot of who he was as a player,” Staley said of Everett. “He’s fit right in with our offense. I know that our quarterbacks love throwing to him. He’s a hard worker. One thing that people don’t realize about him is that he is a really willing blocker. He has real toughness at the point of attack. He has the versatility to move in different places. He has a good run-after-catch ability. He’s fit right in with our group.”

Mark Webb and Michael Davis secure interceptions

Webb recorded the first interception of training camp on Friday after drifting back about 10 yards and jumping in front of a Chase Daniel pass across the middle. Webb regularly received looks in the team’s dime package, standing out in a notable way by flashing his ball skills and coverage ability.

“Like I said last year, he was really playing well for us before he got hurt. I think that he would have played significantly down the stretch for us,” Staley said of Webb. “He has a lot of versatility to play Safety, Star, Money. He played Star at Georgia. Really excited about his progress.”

Webb missed the final nine weeks of last season after undergoing a procedure to his knee. Staley appeared rather excited about what Webb has shown in coverage early on in camp, but noted that where he still needs to prove himself the most is in becoming a more sound tackler.

“He went into Georgia as a receiver, and then Kirby [Smart] and those guys moved him inside and played in that Star/Money hybrid role,” Staley said of Webb. “They had so many good DBs there — in his class, I think that they had five guys drafted that year. Mark played everywhere for them. Kind of like in the NFL, they had a lot of NFL DBs in that secondary, so he played in a lot of places. It showed us that not only does he have the skillset, but it showed how his mind works.”

Meanwhile, the defense came away with a second turnover on Friday as well. Bryce Callahan tipped a Herbert pass intended for DeAndre Carter and Michael Davis came down with it, running it back for what would’ve been a pick six.

Austin Ekeler’s workload this season

Ekeler enters camp coming off a 20-touchdown campaign last season. He’s the unquestioned starter at running back, but has been vocal about his desire to have another rusher challenge the running back room to take on more carries in an attempt to remain more fresh over the course of a full season. 

However, that’s not to say that Ekeler’s role will be diminished.

“We’re not going to know about these backs until they get tackled,” Staley said in regards to the running back group. “So until pads come on, I don’t think you can make a pure assessment on a back. So we’ll see until the pads come on. But as it relates to Austin, I don’t see his role changing anytime soon. Hopefully, we can do even more with him. He’s in the best shape of his life and he looks fantastic through three days.”

Early on during Friday’s practice, Ekeler had a ball go through his hands on an underneath pass from Herbert. Ekeler said after practice, he had to refocus, settle in and it led to a strong finish of the day.

“As far as my load, maybe it can be altered a little bit, but I don’t think it will go down,” Ekeler said about the outlook of his role in 2022.

No Derwin James contract update

James went through walkthroughs the first five to ten minutes of camp, as he has the first two days. But his practice involvement remained the same – watching from the sideline, taking mental reps and energizing his teammates without participating on the field.

Staley said there’s no update on James’ ongoing contract negotiations, but remained confident in how he believes the process will shake out.

“We’re gonna let this process play out. It’s just part of the NFL,” Staley said. “When you’re dealing with some of the best players and contracts like this, it takes some time so we’re working through it.”

DL Andrew Brown considered day-to-day

Following practice, Staley clarified why Brown wasn’t on the practice field as he’s currently dealing with an ankle injury. Staley described the injury as “nothing serious” but Brown is considered day-to-day.

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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.

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