Chargers Rookies Already Showing Leadership and Building off Relationships

The Chargers have some leadership in the rookie draft class.
Author:
Publish date:

The Chargers rookies were in the facility over the weekend for their rookie minicamp. The incoming class is learning how to adjust to the NFL while also getting up to speed on everything because once the veterans come back, it is full speed ahead.

Many of the rookies will be counted on to help the team this season but in different roles. Some players as starters at their position, others as a backup, or maybe even special teams.

It seems like this Chargers rookie class has connections to one another, and even though it was day one, there was some leadership shown last Friday.

"There is something to being in a rookie class together," explained head coach Brandon Staley. "These guys are going to be kind of linked that way. You're going to be spending a lot of time together. I think those relationships, those connections, are meaningful."

One of the connections that many Chargers fans know is that cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. and receiver Josh Palmer attended high school together at St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida.

Both players were in the same drills during practice, but after practice, both worked out and went over WR/DB methods.

"That's why I was saying, high school days kind of came full-circle," said Samuel. "That's what we were doing in high school, so why stop now? We might as well keep it going. That's what got us here, so we might as well just keep it going and try to get one percent better every day and never take a day for granted."

They went through hand-fighting and what would happen in a jump ball scenario without a ball—just them.

"The competitor in me, and all of us, is excited about that," said Staley. "It also makes us feel really confident in our evaluation because all of these guys whom we drafted or acquired in undrafted free agency, we just love their make-up. To see them out there on the field, that's what ballers do; they ball. They work at their game."

The calendar is still in May, but this is already a matchup many fans, along with many in the Chargers building, will be excited to see in training camp Samuel versus Palmer. Both are very talented at their position.

"It will definitely be exciting once we start going against each other," said Palmer. "Right now, we're doing offense and defense separately. It's definitely going to be fun once we're re-introduced to each other."

It could remind fans of the heated battles between receiver Keenan Allen and former cornerback Jason Verrett. Those battles became even more interesting as both Allen and Verrett grew as players.

Samuel told the media that one player that has been talking to him non-stop is Chargers safety Derwin James. It seems like there is a big brother/little brother relationship that is building between James and Samuel. It may mirror the James/Jalen Ramsey relationship in the near future.

"He was excited when we spoke," said Samuel. "He was, basically as soon as I got drafted, telling me the plays and what is going to be going on. I appreciate him for that. We definitely stay in touch. He hit me up this morning, saying, 'Just keep grinding.' We're probably going to watch some film one of these days when he's free. He's just trying to get me acclimated to the Chargers."

After practice in the middle of the field, first-round draft pick Rashawn Slater was helping undrafted tackle Darius Harper, by going through some hand placement drills.

"I definitely want to be a leader," explained Slater. "I feel like as offensive linemen, we all excel in different ways. Some things maybe I can help someone out with, but I'm sure there's a bunch of things that someone can help me out with."

Helping Harper was just one form of leadership, but before Slater made it out to Southern California, he decided to make a pitstop at his old stomping grounds. Slater went back to his high school, Clements, in Sugar Land, Texas.

He wanted to speak to the football team before rookie minicamp.

"I went there, I think on either Monday or Tuesday just for a couple of days before coming up here," explained Slater. "I had the opportunity to go speak to my high school football team. That was a really good experience. It's kind of crazy, I was in their shoes just a few years ago, and now I'm here. I kind of put myself in their shoes and what it would have been like. It was definitely an honor to be able to talk to them.

"I kind of just told them that a lot of them are going through a similar situation [as I did] right now. I just told them to stay the course and always keep a vision."

The Chargers rookies are also starting to get to know each other because, as Staley said, they are going to be linked together. Samuel and Slater both had similar answers to which teammate stood out personality-wise.

"We've actually had a few meetings where we've had the opportunity to get to know everyone a little bit better," said Slater. "Some of the guys, like my guy, [OLB Chris Rumph II] from Duke, he's hilarious. There are a lot of good dudes here."

Samuel agreed.

"Honestly, [OLB] Chris Rumph [II], he's a high-energy guy," said Samuel. "He seems like a great dude. Chris Rumph is definitely high-energy and seems like he has a good personality."