Justin Herbert impresses: Observations from Chargers scrimmage

The Chargers held their most significant training camp practice yet Sunday night in Costa Mesa, the more than two-hour session built around an intrasquad scrimmage.

Top offense went for five possessions against top defense and produced three field goals and two touchdowns, both of which came on short passes from Justin Herbert.

Despite players being in pads, there were still no ground attacks, leaving a gray area in terms of scoring.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Herbert’s first scoring pass was three yards and went to Austin Ekeler, who ended 2021 with 20 touchdowns and the most in the NFL with Indianapolis’ Jonathan Taylor. The drive included a nifty finish from Herbert for Keenan Allen and a 35-yard connection with DeAndre Carter in third and long. The offense also overcame a false start penalty on tight end Gerald Everett.
  • Herbert then teamed with Everett for a two-yard score to end a red-zone situation that started with first-and-10 at the 15-yard line. After securing another first down near the five, the offense failed to score twice on running plays, the second ending when safety Nasir Adderley stopped Ekeler for a loss.
  • The three field goal drives ended with Dustin Hopkins converting from 33, 24 and 48 yards.
  • For the backups, Chase Daniel connected with Trevon Bradford for a beautiful 37-yard touchdown.
  • Daniel also led the second-team offense in his first series to a field goal, a possession that included three more receptions for Carter and a running game in which Carter gained 10 yards. Carter was signed primarily as the team’s kick returner and also had a very productive training camp as a receiver. “He was a perfect fit,” said coach Brandon Staley. “He’s an excellent teammate, a versatile player and plays in many places. … He’s going to be a guy who has an impact on our team. He’s much more than just a returnee.” Herbert called the fifth-year veteran “a very smooth route runner” and said he’s “very friendly with the quarterback,” going on to explain that Carter’s skill makes him a more inviting target.
Chargers outside linebacker Joey Bosa signs autographs for fans after practice Sunday.

Chargers outside linebacker Joey Bosa signs autographs for fans after practice Sunday.

(Ashley Landis/Associated Press)

  • Defensive highlights included veteran edge rusher Khalil Mack, who stopped Ekeler for losing on one game in progress and not winning on another. After a foot injury that cost him the last 10 games of last season, Mack continues to stand out for the Chargers, who traded him in March. Pass rusher Joey Bosa suggested that Mack actually says he feels his game needs to improve. “I just keep telling him it’s going to take some time and I’m sure after a few weeks into the season he’ll really roll and feel great,” Bosa said. “We still have a lot of time until the first game comes.”
  • The scrimmage involved a tense exchange between veteran defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and rookie right guard Zion Johnson. Johnson, who was selected in the first round in April, lost his helmet in the game and Joseph-Day was marked with a 15-yard penalty. “You can’t be afraid to hit on each other sometimes,” Bosa said. “I think Zion definitely has that in it. … Sometimes you have to agree with the beginners.”
  • Rookie full-back Zander Horvath had a nice, aggressive run after intercepting a pass from Herbert. He is battling veteran Gabe Nabers for a possible gameday roster spot. Horvath should get plenty of action in the pre-season.
  • Edge rusher sophomore Chris Rumph II combined with Jerry Tillery for a sack and also stopped Ekeler for a two-yard loss on a run play.
  • Several regular players were not used due to injuries. These included linebackers Kenneth Murray Jr., Kyle Van Noy, Drue Tranquill and Nick Niemann. Murray had ankle surgery off season, Staley claimed he hopes Murray can return at training camp at some point. Van Noy, Tranquill, and Niemann all deal with what Staley called “soft tissue.” He has stated that none of the injuries are considered serious. After those four were eliminated, Troy Reeder and Amen Ogbongbemiga started as inside linebackers.
  • Staley confirmed tight end Donald Parham Jr. suffered a hamstring injury during Friday’s practice session. He said Parham “should definitely be out this week”. Tre’ McKitty, a sophomore, also remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury. With those absences, Hunter Kampmoyer, a former teammate of Herbert’s in Oregon, was given some time with the first team.
  • Bosa was restricted on Sunday with a bladder problem that surfaced during warm-up. He was visibly limping as he left the field. “I’ve never had one on my foot,” he said. “I’ve been trying to make these cleats durable, but I think they’re ready for the trash. But it’s no big deal. I’ll just pop ’em and wrap ’em up and be back in action.
  • Safety Mark Webb Jr. and wide receiver Jason Moore Jr. also sat out with undisclosed injuries. Cornerback Tevaughn Campbell went down due to a leg injury during scrimmage and did not return.
  • Undrafted rookie offensive lineman Andrew Trainer will stay out after his injury on Friday, Staley said.
  • The Chargers are off the field Monday and will return to practice Tuesday morning. Their first preseason game is Saturday at 7 p.m. at SoFi Stadium against the Rams.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/chargers/story/2022-08-08/justin-herbert-chargers-practice-scrimmage-observations Justin Herbert impresses: Observations from Chargers scrimmage

Emma Bowman

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