The Chargers defense has looked very athletic so far in training camp. It all starts with their two linebackers. They have only played a handful of snaps together but seem to be gelling well on the field.
Drue Tranquill and Kenneth Murray will be counted on to make plays for the defense. They have a unique skill set.
"I mean, Kenneth is a freak of nature," explained Tranquill. "This guy is 250 [pounds], can run in the 4.4 [seconds for a 40-yard dash]. He's really physical. I'm more — with my experience at safety — more coverage-oriented. We complement each other well in those regards. I think we're both really good, all-around football players, so we're able to play off of one another."
That is what they both bring that is unique. Murray is a player who relies on his instincts and attacks the ball, while Tranquill can be used in coverage.
Both have been making numerous plays during camp. Murray has easily had three sacks during 11 on 11, while Tranquill has been in coverage against tight ends and running backs.
"I feel like we're meshing together well," explained Murray. "I feel like we have a lot of guys, especially in our group, that all can play [at a high level], but Drue is a guy, you know, that can play. We are both guys that can fly around. I'm looking forward to having two guys in there, going out there and flying around, knocking people out."
The style that Murray is now playing with the Chargers is what he did at Oklahoma and made him a first-round pick. He is an aggressive player that flies around on every play.
Tranquill is a former converted safety that could cover receivers or tight ends and made the switch in his final two seasons at Notre Dame. He was drafted in the fourth round and played well on special teams while earning some reps at linebacker. Last season, he suffered an ankle injury in the first five minutes of week one that would keep him out for the season.
"I like to think that I'm in a good position each and every year to be flying around," said Tranquill about his health. "After what I went through last year, I'm certainly just thankful to be out here, running around, competing, and having an opportunity to play on this team."
Both players have been very vocal about the way they had been used in the past. Tranquill mentioned that he was confused on why he was covering Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill all the way to the end zone while Murray felt like his skill set wasn't being used.
They were two of the most excited about this new defense. Head coach Brandon Staley is known for putting his players in a position to use their strengths.
"I think Drue and Kenneth are both complete linebackers," said Staley. "The thing about Drue, he is so sharp mentally. He's going into his third season. This guy knows a lot of ball. He plays far more mature than his years. What he can help Kenneth with is just that little extra reminder. Sometimes, as a young player, all you need is a little thing before the snap that allows you to play your best. Drue can give that. He thinks like a coach. We're excited to have both of those guys. Both of those guys are having really good camps."
During practice, when 11 on 11 is over, Murray will walk over to Tranquill or vice versa, and they go over what they saw during the series.
The Chargers face a lot of talented quarterbacks, running backs, and tight ends this season, so they will be counting on numbers 49 and 9 to be like The Brothers of Destruction and wreak havoc.
"Personally for me, not having played for a year now, just to see our fans out here and feel the energy — the excitement with a new coaching staff, new players, a lot of free agents, a totally revamped offensive line, Derwin James back, I'm back," said Tranquill. "We have guys healthy. We're really excited. We're just trying to compete every day, develop these relationships and be a good football team come September."
Season ticket sales are up
The Chargers averaged 45,611 season tickets during their final 20 seasons in San Diego. Well, according to the team, they have surpassed that for the 2021 season at SoFi Stadium.
The team has been working hard to get more integrated in the community of Los Angeles while also being in the same city as another NFL team. There also happen to be two teams of almost everything in LA.
It also doesn't hurt that the Chargers have the rookie of the year at quarterback in Justin Herbert. They have to win in 2021 if they are to keep those numbers climbing in 2022 and further.
Notes from Wednesday
- Kicking battle: Michael Badgley went 5/7 while missing from 54 and 42, but he hit two field goals during the two-minute drill. Alex Kessman had a perfect 5/5 day.
- Right tackle Bryan Bulaga didn't practice on Wednesday, a day after appearing to injury his hand, but Staley said it was a "veterans day off." He said they have mapped out his and other veteran player's schedules.
- Receiver Tyron Johnson also didn't participate for the third day in a row, while fellow receiver Jalen Guyton didn't participate either. Staley said they are being careful with him. Cornerback Ryan Smith didn't participate, he has been in and out since last week.
- The playmaker on Wednesday was cornerback John Brannon after collecting two interceptions. One was popped up Mark Webb (who left practice w/ his leg bothering him).