Joshua Palmer aiming for a bigger Chargers role

His position coach called him “so, so serious,” adding that Joshua Palmer was “straight forward” to the point where it “almost became too much.”

To be more businesslike on the field, Palmer would need to compete in a three-piece suit.

But before opening his second training camp with the Chargers last week, the 23-year-old wide receiver was strong in his emotions.

Palmer’s childhood friend, John Metchie III, had just revealed he is likely to miss his rookie season with Houston after being diagnosed with leukemia.

“You hear about these things, but it’s never come close,” Palmer said. “I was just speechless. You don’t know what to say or how to say it.”

Palmer and Metchie grew up together in Canada, in a town called Brampton, a suburb of about 600,000 people northwest of Toronto. Their friendship goes back so far that Palmer said, “I don’t remember not knowing him.”

They both eventually moved to the United States to play soccer and ended up with the SEC.

Houston Texans wide receiver John Metchie III smiles during a rookie minicamp practice session in May.

Houston Texans wide receiver John Metchie III smiles during a rookie minicamp practice session in May. Metchie announced last week that he was diagnosed with leukemia.

(David J Phillip / Associated Press)

Palmer played in Tennessee before being drafted by the Chargers in the third round last year, while Metchie played in Alabama before the Texans took him to the second round in April.

They should split the field again this season in Week 4 when the Chargers play in Houston. But their next reunion is on hold indefinitely.

“John’s a soldier,” Palmer said. “Right now he’s just in another camp, another camp that he has to go through. He will come out in full force next season.”

With his friend on his mind, Palmer arrived in Costa Mesa, where the Chargers hope it will be a season of significant development. After Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, more consistency is required for the team’s third wide receiver spot.

Palmer ended his rookie season on an uptrend. As of Week 14 against the New York Giants — a game Allen missed due to COVID-19 — he had 18 of his 33 receptions and three of his four touchdowns.

He caught a 23-yard scoring pass from Justin Herbert to convert a fourth and 21 game late in the fourth quarter of the Chargers’ dramatic season finale in Las Vegas.

“That Giants game was a huge boost for him,” said Chargers wide receivers coach Chris Beatty. “He was able to do several things in Keenan’s character and be like, ‘Hey, I can do that.’ Now he has the confidence and it’s more about mastering what he wants to do.”

Beatty almost worked with Palmer long before the two got together with the Chargers. He was an assistant in Maryland and recruited Palmer from St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale.

Palmer also played almost in Southern California long before he became a Charger. Before settling on Tennessee, his college visits included a stint at UCLA, where a higher source apparently intervened.

“Someone told me it doesn’t rain in California,” Palmer said. “The one time I was there, it rained all weekend. So I took that as a sign.”

Chargers receiver Joshua Palmer was aiming for a touchdown last season as a rookie.

Joshua Palmer, who ran for a touchdown last season in December, had 33 receptions as a Chargers rookie.

(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Palmer’s seriousness was shown when he left Canada to finish high school in South Florida, St. Thomas Aquinas, a traditional football powerhouse. At the time, he described it as “a business decision.” he was 15

In a position known to induce divas and distractions, Palmer keeps something closer to tunnel vision. His personality, Beatty explained, is the calmest of Charger recipients.

“He’s different like that,” Beatty said. “He balances the space. You can’t have all the comedians there. Everyone else is joking with Josh and he’s over there looking at his iPad.”

That’s not to say Palmer lacks a brighter side. When asked if he played hockey growing up, he only said the street version before adding, “I could skate. I just couldn’t stop.”

Palmer is an athlete who prefers to stay locked up. In Tennessee, Palmer was preparing for the NFL on and off the field. He said during his senior year he pretended he was already in the league.

He became a sharper self-critic. He studied more film. He began to take better care of his body and tried to develop the routine of a professional athlete.

Beatty praised Palmer’s approach and dedication, but admitted he can sometimes get too deep. The coach cited the example of Palmer trying to improve on an otherwise perfect route because the ball wasn’t coming his way.

“He’s just so straight-forward, which is good in a lot of ways, but sometimes you overthink things,” Beatty said. “That’s kind of where he’s at, trying to learn how to avoid each other a bit.”

The only thing Palmer has mastered this season is perspective, the situation with Machie and how his friend handles it are reminders of what matters most.

Palmer said the two have been in touch, adding that Metchie is already getting back on his feet.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Palmer said. “But John will be fine. He’ll get through this.”


The Chargers signed tight end Sage Surratt, a former undrafted free agent who last played in the USFL. Joshua Palmer aiming for a bigger Chargers role

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