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Los Angeles Chargers Minicamp Day 3: Defense Reigns Supreme!

Image: Jake Piccuito

The Chargers are one step closer to the NFL 2023 season! In the first Saturday practice of training camp, the Chargers had a huge turnout. LaDainian Tomlinson, Kassim Osgood, and Lorenzo Neal made appearances today that help pump up the crowd. These retired legends talked about their past experiences at camp and the excitement of seeing this Chargers team compete and succeed.

The Chargers Defense Keeps Rolling

The defense picked up right where they left off from day 2. Stifling the offense during 7-on-7 and 11-0n-11 sessions during day 3, forcing two fumbles and two interceptions. There was one big play, but it was due to a double deflection.

The defense is looking really impressive. Asante Samuel Jr. made some big breakups and even had an interception against Easton Stick. He is definitely making his case to be back as the starting slot corner over Ja’Sir Taylor. ASJ has been playing very psychically against wide receivers that are bigger than him.

Another positive development for the defense is the improvement of Kenneth Murray. Last season, Murray seemed lost on defense. It wasn’t that he didn’t know his assignment, but because he was trying to do too much. With the addition of Eric Kendricks, Murray’s play should begin to improve. Kendricks’s effort and experience will make Murray’s job easier. Kendricks has already shown to be an impact in coverage and the run defense. He has already made several tackles for loss and broke up. I cannot wait to see this unit in action once the pads go on. Now, they just need to stay healthy.

The Offense is in Trouble

After the Chargers’ offense found early success on day 2 they have failed to muster consistency. Another development is the lack of decision-making by Easton Stick. Stick is in his fifth season and is taking longer to make a decision he had no problem with making last year. It is really disappointing to see. Max Duggan on the other hand is making decisive decisions and hitting the receivers the defense is leaving open. I expect him to soon be the number 2 quarterback behind Justin Herbert.

The offense had two injuries occur during the second to last 11-on-11 session. Offensive lineman Austen Pleasants and wide receiver Keenan Allen both went down with injuries. Pleasants sustained a right knee injury and walked off with assistance from the medical staff. There is no further news on his injury or if it was just muscle tightness. Allen looked to get tangled up with a defender and landed awkwardly twisting his ankle. It had fans holding their breath. There was good news, Allen returned to take more reps at wide receiver without any apparent impairment. A very good sign for Chargers fans.

With a new offensive coordinator, there is an expected learning curve as well. Considering the defense’s potential to be a top-10 unit, it is reasonable to expect that it may take some more time to overcome the learning curve. I believe that the offense will break through. While they show flashes of greatness, their true potential will be revealed when they face real competition, proving to themselves and their fans whether they have what it takes to compete this year.

What to Keep an Eye On

Wide receiver Quentin Johnston continues to show why he should have been the first WR taken in last year’s draft. His route running is crisp and he is getting more consistent in catching with his hands rather than letting the ball hit his body. His position on jump balls is very strong and will make him a good target in the red zone. Imagine a healthy trio of Quentin Johnston, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams—truly a scary combination in the red zone.

The offense needs to respond after being stifled since day 2. Putting the pads on will give them the means to impose their will. If the offensive line doesn’t do this it will make it a long year. I don’t believe this will be the case. Everything I have seen so far points to the fact the group is lying in wait to show what they are really made of.

Kenneth Murray continues to show improvement on defense. Kendricks’ addition has already proven huge dividends. Seeing Murray improve this quickly has me hoping he can reach his full potential by week 2-3 in the regular season. Murray and Kendricks could turn into one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL. That would make a good start in improving the defense’s success.

I look forward to keeping you all posted 
on the day-to-day for Chargers Minicamp. 
Keep checking backsportspage.com for
more sports articles and go to 
this link to keep up with my 
coverage during Chargers Minicamp.
Also, please follow me 
@PiccuitoSpace on Twitter,
@therealjp_photography on IG,
and @Jake_Piccuito on Facebook!
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All pictures were taken by me!
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