First day of pads, baby. It’s time to rock n’ roll.
The banging and clanging of pads is going to sound like sweet, sweet music to our ears.
With practice starting soon, here’s what I’ll be watching for today as things get revved up.
Absolutely no injuries
Seriously. Nothing. Not even a damn scratch.
Okay, maybe some scratches and bruises, but please nothing that comes close to missing time or anything along those lines.
Four years ago, a bright-eyed Forest Lamp during heading into his rookie season tore his ACL during the team’s first day of pads in training camp. Ever since, this day has been one of the more anxiety-ridden days of the preseason for fans and things haven’t changed just because there’s a new staff in place.
However, there’s an obvious change in the wind and I think you’d be lying if you didn’t feel like a stretch of good luck is on the horizon. Maybe it’s the overwhelming energy flowing from Brandon Staley, or the supreme confidence of Derwin James, but I feel better about today than I have in recent years.
Fingers crossed, of course.
Which side of the trenches will win day one?
The Chargers have long had stars along their defensive front. Right now, they have one of the best in Joey Bosa and several other young players with high expectations. The franchise finally gave the defense a formidable offensive line this offseason by revamping the group and bringing in 2020 First-Team All-Pro Corey Linsley to hold it all together.
Without pads, practices for trench players can only be so aggressive. You can’t completely lean into your blows nearly the same as when you’re protected so today is the first day both sides can turn things up to 11.
Linsley against Linval Joseph. Joey Bosa and Uchenna Nwosu against Rashawn Slater and Bryan Bulaga. Jerry Tillery and Justin Jones against Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi.
This is the most fun we’ll have watching the trenches in some time.
How will the young linebackers/defensive backs fare against the well-seasoned pass-catchers?
Aside from the likes of Chris Harris Jr. and Michael Davis, none of the the defenders at the second and third levels have more than one or two years of tangible experience. The likes of Kenneth Murray Jr., Drue Tranquill, Brandon Facyson and Asante Samuel Jr. will all have their hands full with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, and Jared Cook.
Running routes and catching passes is fun and easy for the offense when the pads aren’t on, but once the protection is in place, the defense can finally play up to the level that the offense could before.
Someone like Tyron Johnson has looked great thus far in camp, but will he continue to perform once the defenders are able to put a body on him?
I can’t wait to find out!
What specifics are you all looking forward to seeing in today’s practice? Let me know in the comments below!