Ekeler Evaluates The Backs
Since the last offseason, Austin Ekeler has joked that he is now the veteran in the running backs room. He is only 26 years old, while the other four backs are in the 22-25 age range. The veteran back plays teacher, trying to help each guy out.
He knows what it will take from the running backs for this team to succeed. He saw it firsthand in 2018 when the team went 12-4 and won their wild-card game. It will take each back's contribution.
"So, we need everyone to be able to make plays and step up to the plate," explained Ekeler to the media on Friday. "So, we're all trying to help each other get better in the ways that we can. We're all different types of runners, different types of skills, and strengths. So, we all have our own kind of niche in the offense, but we're all working to maximize our production through that."
Ekeler has said in the past that he doesn't need to be the primary back getting 30 hand-offs that he is all for splitting time if it helps the team. He feels like Darius Bradwell is a big back who could pound the football while he likes Larry Rountree's pad level and intensity. He also thinks Joshua Kelley will have a bounce-back season.
The question that has been brought up a lot to offensive players has been how they are adapting to the new offense. Ekeler decided to use a reference that was said on day one of Spanish class in high school.
"As far as offenses in the NFL in general, I feel like pretty much all offenses run the same place," explained Ekeler. "It's just different names. So, it's like learning Spanish and now learning English, right? The language explains similar things, but it's just in a different way. It's like 'si' means yes the same thing, but different verbiage."
Harris Feels The Secondary Growing
Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. has been on a Super Bowl winning roster. He knows what it takes as far as what is expected from the secondary. In Denver, they were known as the "No Fly Zone," and they had a lot of talent.
Harris believes that there is a lot of talent on this Chargers roster. There is a great deal of competition after he and Michael Davis, with the headliner being second-round pick Asante Samuel Jr. With the young rookie having to learn both outside and inside corner, but there are players like Brandon Facyson making some noise.
"It's been great just playing with those boys to help Facyson," explained Harris. "He's the guy to ask 1000 questions, man, so that's good, and he has great potential. You know, 6'2 corner can belong. He has to learn how to use the size more and play more aggressive, but he has a future if he just takes on to it and uses his size with Mike you've seen how he has grown over the years. He's continued to get better, and the system fits Mike perfectly, so I expect him to even raise his game up another level."
Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said on Friday that he feels like having a veteran like Harris is like having another defensive coordinator, but this one is on the field. Harris has seen a lot and has been through the wringer, especially with the Broncos.
"We have that accountability in our room that we expect to make plays," explained Harris. "When we don't see that standard, everybody knows that anybody can get called out. Me, Derwin [James Jr.], anybody. We have accountability that we keep with each other. That's the standard; play at a high level."
The veteran cornerback also mentioned that free safety Nasir Adderley has grown a lot since last season and added that fellow cornerback Tevaughn Campbell is another player to watch out for in the next few weeks.
Harris, through his years, knows that talent isn't the only thing that will help them be the number one secondary in the NFL.
"I know from my time in Denver when we had number one defenses, we all loved each other," says Harris. "We loved playing with each other, and that's what you see from our group. We have a great group together, everybody wants to make each other better, and we're building off that every day."
Day Three News & Notes
· Linebacker Kyzir White had a pick six of Easton Stick. White has been mixing in with the starters and has had a strong beginning to camp.
· Uchenna Nwosu during 11 on 11 had a sack on Justin Herbert, but they let the play continue so he threw up a 70-yard bomb, which was a diving catch by Tyron Johnson. In all fairness Brandon Facyson put his hands up and didn’t challenge because he didn’t want to hurt his teammate.
· Facyson is another player who has been getting a lot of run with the first team defense.
· The combination between Herbert and Jared Cook continues to grow as the young quarterback found him in the endzone on 7 on 7.
· Speaking of tight ends, Donald Parham has been the second tight end during camp and made a nice touchdown catch over Kenneth Murray in 7 on 7 as well.
· Brandon Staley said that the team is practicing special teams differently. So, they have practice punts, kickoff return, and on Friday it was kickoff. Special teams coach Derius Swinton was seen going to each player and telling them what he expected from them.
· Center Corey Linsley returned to practice on Friday after being present on Thursday but not taking part in 11 on 11. Staley said, ““We were just being cautious yesterday. He was back here today and felt good. We just wanted to make sure that in this early phase that if you’re feeling off, let’s not put you out there and then have something bigger happen.