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Los Angeles Chargers Minicamp Day 4: First Day of Pads!

The first day of full pads is in the books for the Chargers. This is the day fans have been waiting for. For such days, the men are separated from the boys, providing fans with exciting competition and revealing the true physicality of the team. Today might have been a little disappointing as the team had their team sessions (11-on-11s) on the far field. However, it’s worth noting that such occurrences are expected on the first day, as coaches aim to maintain control over the setting, prevent tempers from flaring, and ensure a productive session.

The Chargers Offense Bounces Back

Quentin Johnston struggled early on. He dropped a few passes during individual and team offense sessions. Johnston bounced back in the first red zone 1-on-1 session with an impressive catch over Ja’Sir Taylor in the back corner of the end zone. I believe jitters were the main cause for this, but Johnston has been very impressive during camp up to this point. Having one “off” day shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Johnston has shown growth and fixed the concerns that scouts had about him going into the draft.

Through a mix of play calls, the offense was able to move the ball. It seemed a good amount of their gains came from run plays. A very positive sign after the defense has stifled the offense the last few days. I believe this group will continue to build on this productive day.

One concerning development was the absence of right tackle Trey Pipkins III in the first full days of pads. Pipkins was present, wearing workout gear, and had a sleeve on his right leg. Foster Sarell took over Pipkins’s duties for today. Sarell did a good job filling in and looks like a better backup option than Storm Norton was last year. A very positive sign especially if this injury to Pipkins lingers into the season.

The Defense Bends, BUT that is OKAY

The Chargers’ defense struggled a little bit today. It was bound to happen at least once during camp. I am hoping it is the only time they bend this year. Better to bend against your own team than against an actual opponent.

A very positive sign is the development of second-round pick Tuli Tuipulotu. In the first padded session of the year, Tuipulotu got reps with the starting defense. I am excited to see how the Chargers utilize their skill set. Learning from Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack should help elevate his talents and help accelerate that growth. By growth, I mean the ability to read tackles and add moves to his arsenal.

The secondary has been performing great even with the loss of Bryce Callahan. Asante Samuel Jr. and Ja’Sir Taylor have been battling it out for a starting position. Both have been physical and have made plays on players that are bigger than them which is extremely positive to see. The Chargers had a top-1o pass defense in 2022. An improvement would be very welcomed along with the front seven improvement.

What to Keep an Eye On

Tuli Tuipulotu has gone under the radar early on. I want to see if his physicality starts to make him stand out. Also seeing how he fairs against a starting offensive line rather than backups should prove to be an interesting watch.

Quentin Johnston. Enough said. Johnston has been a standout at minicamp. I believe his “off” day will be a small blip in a potential Offensive Rookie of the Year season. He clearly worked on catching the ball with his hands rather than his body and showed that his size will help with jump balls. The true test will be against corners that are almost equal in size, but he won’t see that till the season begins.

Another key position to watch is the offense line and they perform without Trey Pipkins. There is no info on how long Pipkins will be out, but with his injury history, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers keep him out a day or two to be on the safe side. This gives Foster Sarell a chance to show what he is made of and see if he can build some chemistry with that starting unit.

I look forward to keeping you all posted 
on the day-to-day for Chargers Minicamp. 
Keep checking for
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All photos were taken by me!
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