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Summary from the Final Week of Camp
Justin Herbert started slow but finished well in joint practices against San Francisco, symbolic of Herbert’s development in the new Joe Lombardi-led offense. Lombardi said of Herbert, “I think we probably did overload him early in camp. But he’s really smart. Once he starts getting the reps, you know, it becomes easier and easier for him. So it helps that he’s so intelligent and that he works so hard.” Chase Daniel was complimentary of Herbert, “He's smart; probably one of the smartest young guys I've been around in terms of knowledge. Not only football knowledge but how to be a good teammate, how to be a franchise quarterback. The guy won offensive rookie of the year, but he's still super humble. He and I have had good conversations about his progression as a quarterback, and I've told him it's about what you do on the field, but it's also so much more than that.” Easton Stick may not be a polished passer, but he’s making the most of his scrambling ability to throw off-platform. Daniel started the final preseason game but suffered an elbow injury on a blitz. He was able to return for two more series after leaving briefly. It is likely the Chargers keep three quarterbacks on the roster with Easton Stick behind Herbert and Daniel.
Austin Ekeler has promised to give a signed jersey to those who start him in their rosters and win their matchup this season. The Chargers have prioritized lining Ekeler up in multiple positions as a receiver, which bodes well for him to be near the top of the league standing in yards from scrimmage. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi is generally pleased about the team’s depth: “I'm pleased with how that room has been progressing. I saw some good pass protection today, and that's key, of course. The best thing I can say is that I feel good about every single kid in that room. That makes decisions hard sometimes.” Joshua Kelley started the final preseason game, playing ahead of Larry Rountree III. Rountree played more than Kelley (22 snaps to 18 snaps), an indication Kelley is ahead of Rountree on the depth chart at present. Daniel Popper of The Athletic projects Ekeler, Kelley, and Rountree making the 53-man roster while Justin Jackson misses out.
Mike Williams has missed two weeks of training camp after a hip flexor injury but should return to practice this week. Josh Palmer has been taken under Keenan Allen’s wing. Palmer said of Allen, “He teaches me a lot about leverages, coming off the ball, attacking. Overall, using my ability to my strength. He taught me to be confident, learn the playbook and what to look at versus what not to look at.” Jalen Guyton joins Allen, Williams, and Palmer as roster locks. Tyron Johnson played 92% of the snaps, had a team-high nine targets, and caught four passes for 41 yards in the final preseason game, but he still didn’t stick on the final roster. K.J. Hill made the roster as a kickoff and punt returner.
Daniel Popper of The Athletic correctly expected Jared Cook, Donald Parham Jr, Tre' McKitty, and Stephen Anderson to make the roster. Cook should be the starter, but “Parham looks poised for a breakout season.”
Tristan Vizcaino missed a 47-yard field goal in the 27-0 loss to Seattle. Michael Badgley didn’t attempt a kick. The two jockeyed back and forth throughout camp. The team ultimately opted for Vizcaino’s stronger leg that gives him the edge on kickoffs, even though Badgley has been more accurate in practices and is more experienced.
Coach Staley likes what he sees from Asante Samuel Jr: “I’ve been pleased with him and excited for his progress.” Key defenders Derwin James and Joey Bosa came out of camp healthy and will anchor the new defensive scheme when the season starts. Veteran cornerback Chris Harris Jr thinks James is an all-time great: "I've played with a lot of great people in the secondary -- Hall of Famers like Champ (Bailey) and Dawk (Brian Dawkins) -- but it's hard to say anybody is like this kid, the way he loves the game, the way he competes every day," Harris said. "He's very smart and has a great enthusiasm about him, a great spirit about him. And he has freakish talent. He can run, has great quickness, very physical and strong. The season could definitely change with him out there. He's that special of a player." The hope is either Uchenna Nwosu or Kyler Fackrell establish themselves as a consistent edge presence opposite Bosa.
Summary from Week 3 of Camp
Daniel Popper of The Athletic noted gushed about Justin Herbert’s week. “His ball placement was particularly impressive, and he was regularly throwing receivers, tight ends, and backs open.” Popper also noted Easton Stick “has looked overwhelmed and discombobulated in Joe Lombardi’s offensive scheme,” and that has allowed Chase Daniel to lock down the No. 2 position. Despite the struggles in camp, Stick started ahead of Chase Daniel against the 49ers. Head coach Brandon Staley said, “Both Easton and Chase were under pressure tonight, and I thought that both of them handled it pretty well. I thought Easton in the first half was outstanding, avoiding trouble and keeping us on schedule. And Chase, I felt like, gave us a chance in the second half, and it was tough sledding out there.”
Justin Jackson suffered a groin injury during the first preseason game and is being held out of practice this week as he recovers. Staley said of Jackson, “We’re shooting for him to be back in the preseason, but we’ll just wait and see on that.” Joshua Kelley has stood out in pass protection. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi complimented Kelley, “He’s another guy that comes to work every day, studies the game, and aims to get better. You can certainly see that he’s a trustworthy component when it comes to pass protection.” Austin Ekeler was held out of the second preseason game because he has nothing to prove; he’ll be the lead back and figure prominently as a runner and receiver in the regular season.