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Takeaways From Chargers Day 1 of OTAs

What stood out from the Chargers' first day of OTAs?

COSTA MESA – The Chargers hit the field for Day 1 of the team's OTA portion of their offseason program. It's still voulantary for players to attend, but is highly encouraged by the coaching staff for obvious reasons.

The viewing portion for the media consisted of roughly 15 to 20 minutes as the Chargers went through their first practice of the offseason, collectively. Practice was ran at half speed but nonetheless, it was the first look at the 2022 Chargers.

Here are a few observations that stood out.

OTA attendance

Nov 28, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) reacts after intercepting a pass in the Tennessee Titans end zone in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

As referenced earlier, players are not required to show up. But for those fighting for roster spots or newly added players this offseason, OTAs serve a purpose of getting acclimated to the scheme while others are able to get an early leg up over their counterparts by attending.

Among the Chargers' notable offseason signings, Khalil Mack and Kyle Van Noy were present. Meanwhile, J.C. Jackson wasn’t on the field.

Following practice, Chargers coach Brandon Staley said that Jackson ran into flight issues coming out of Boston, which caused him to miss the start of OTAs. Staley said Jackson has been at the facility throughout the offseason and will be in attendance this week.

Other players such as Jerry Tillery and Kenneth Murray were also not present. Murray underwent offseason ankle surgery so it was somewhat expected for him to not be out there until he regains health of the ankle. Staley said the plan is for Murray to be ready at the start of training camp.

No Jerry Tillery

Nov 29, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (99) following the game against the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Tillery, the Chargers' first-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft, did not get his fifth-year option picked up just ahead of the NFL deadline. While there's no requirement to be present during this portion of the offseason program, it was surprising to not see him on the field given the offseason additions who play along the defensive line.

The Chargers signed two marquee interior defensive lineman at the start of free agency with Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson coming aboard. They drafted another option for the position in the fifth-round, selecting Otito Ogbonnia and recently brought aboard Morgan Fox after the draft.

“He’s going to fit into that competition of guys that are going to have to earn a role," Staley said of Tillery. "During this springtime and during training camp, all of those guys are going to really have to duke it out to establish themselves. Sebastian and Austin are proven NFL players. Khalil Mack is a proven NFL player. Derwin James is a proven NFL player. Then, there are a bunch of guys that are trying to prove themselves, to earn their way in the league. I would put him in that category.”

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It's a crowded interior defensive line room and Staley said Monday that it's an open competition behind Joseph-Day and Johnson.

First look at Khalil Mack

Sep 19, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) practices before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Monday marked the first time Mack laced up his cleats and put on the powder blue as a member of the Chargers. He primarily did individual work during the viewing portion rather than mixing in with the rotation of defensive lineman.

He focused on change of direction drills, his get-off from a three-point stance and incorporated sprints into his routine on Monday.

“He’s in really good shape," Staley said of Mack. "He has a lot of confidence in where he’s at right now. We just want to make sure that we phase them in the right way. He’s going to be in all of the walk-through stuff, jog-through stuff. But, we want to make sure that in individual [period], that he just comes back the right way. He could probably go full speed right now, as you guys probably saw."

Staley said after practice that Mack is in really good shape and that they're working to phase him in the right way. Staley stated that Mack will be involved when they begin walkthroughs.

How did the Chargers deploy Kyle Van Noy on Day 1 of OTAs?

Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) celebrates after an interception for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Van Noy is a hybrid player who can play off the ball in space as a traditional linebacker but he also offers the ability to come off the edge as a pass-rusher. From what I saw on Monday, Van Noy worked with the linebacker group rather than consuming reps with the team's edge rushers.

"His trademark is he can do either – play on the edge, play behind the ball," Staley said. "He's a very versatile player. But what he does better than anything is he's extremely instinctive. He can make plays at both of the positions and he can run the show. He's been the green dot in New England and so we feel like that versatility is really going to help us."


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