The Chargers continued their voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) this past Tuesday, which was then followed by media availability where three players and one coach spoke.
Here’s some of what they had to say:
DC Renaldo Hill: “We have a lot to work with right now.”
Hill’s time on the podium was all about diversity on the defensive end, something he said was a focus for the team going into the offseason. Hill also mentioned that most of the additions were guys they felt fit the defensive scheme better than last year players did and said linebacker Kyle Van Noy as a “jack of all trades” that the team is excited to have in the building. Later on, Hill also stressed the importance of competition in the secondary in ensuring that backups are prepared to play if their number gets called.
That competitive atmosphere and its benefits can probably be extended to the defensive line as well, where several players have uncertain roles or roster spots heading into the heat of summer. It sounds like though year two of Staley and Hill’s scheme will emphasize versatility, which could lead to some surprise roster decisions down the line. It also means that the defense should be better equipped to deceive opposing offenses.
DL Morgan Fox: “I’m grateful and happy to be part of this room.”
Fox confirmed what’s been shown on Twitter for the last few days by telling reporters that the defensive line room has been getting along swimmingly despite so many new additions this offseason. He also confirmed that the calls and verbiage of the defense are the same as when he played for Staley on the other side of town.
While there’s no evidence that morale was low on the defensive line last season, it’s refreshing to see that the entire room is having as good of a time as they are this year. Locker room morale is an oft-underrated aspect of on-field performance, and the early returns this season seem to suggest that these successful new relationships between teammates will engender more success on the field.
Another point of comfort for Chargers fans: if all the nuances of the defensive scheme are truly the same as they were for the Rams in 2020, the defense has a leg up on fine-tuning their knowledge with so many former Rams now in the building to serve as tutors. Fox, Joseph-Day, and linebacker Troy Reeder all have prior experience in the system and should be able to pass along their tips and tricks to the rest of the team, which could lead to big returns.
LB Kyle Van Noy: “I’m trying to get the most out of players around me.”
Van Noy echoed Hill’s comments about competition, saying that he wants every guy on the team to do well because that competitive atmosphere will inspire him to be his best. He also said that everything about the Chargers organization convinced him to come to play in LA before telling reporters that his exact role in the defense is a “secret.”
Van Noy’s enthusiasm for the culture that the Chargers have built under Brandon Staley is excellent news for keeping talent home and convincing them to come to LA. While traditionally a “big market” team, the Rams have always seemed to have better luck luring talent to the City of Angels than the Chargers have. Van Noy’s comments suggest that it may be shifting in favor of the Bolts, although it’ll still be even at best given the Rams’ continued hyper-aggressiveness.
The fact that Van Noy declines to tell reporters what his exact role in the defense is going to be isable, as it implies that he’s going to be asked to do just about everything on the field. That’s something that many fans guessed when he was signed, but I think it does lend credence to the theory that he’ll spend time at off-ball linebacker to supplement Drue Tranquill and Kenneth Murray. Of course, that’s in addition to his role as a secondary edge rusher behind Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack.
TE Donald Parham Jr .: “I had to take my time and just think about if this was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my career.”
Parham was candid with the media in saying he wasn’t sure he’d ever return to the field after a nasty concussion against the Chiefs in week 15 that kept him from playing for the rest of the season. He said he did not feel back to normal until the end of February to early March. Now, Parham is fully healthy and feels motivated by a locker room that he said: “Makes me feel like part of a family.”
On the one hand, it’s a frightening look at the reality of concussions to hear that Parham did not feel himself until nearly three months after his injury occurred. Nobody could blame him for not being willing to risk returning after an injury like that. On the other hand, it’s again a testament to the culture Staley and GM Tom Telesco have built that Parham feels so strongly about his teammates that he decided he was willing to battle back from such a severe setback.
Few players have worked more challenging to get to where they are than Parham, who has risen from the XFL to even be on the roster, let alone play such a significant role as the second tight end next to Gerald Everett. We should all hope he breaks out in a big way and stays healthy in 2022.