When the Chargers step on the field Saturday in Arizona for their preseason opener, certain players will feel more strongly about what’s about to happen than others.
For veterans, it’ll be a good thing that they’re not paid hourly because Philip Rivers, Melvin Ingram and Keenan Allen are all expected to play sparingly — if it all.
But for someone such as second-round pick Uchenna Nwosu, running out onto a football field for the first time as a professional, preseason or not, will be a milestone.
“It will be a dream come true,” Nwosu said after a light practice Thursday. “It’s what I’ve been thinking about since I [began] playing football. To be able to go out there and live out my dream for the first time will be a surreal moment. I’ll embrace it, but I also came to play.”
Nwosu has been impressive in his first professional camp, playing multiple positions in Gus Bradley’s defense. He’s earned some first-team reps as an outside linebacker on the strong side, and he’s played defensive end in passing situations.
“I think Uchenna is the guy that probably has the most on his plate,” Bradley said. “He’s playing dual positions. He’s our outside linebacker and also a rusher on third downs. He’s coming along, though. We are starting to see him rush more, so that will be good.”
Nwosu, who had 9.5 sacks as a senior last season for USC, said he’s getting better at playing both positions, with the biggest adjustments coming at linebacker.
At least on Saturday in Arizona, he’ll have a familiar opponent lining up in the opposing backfield — former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen,
“I'm looking forward to seeing him again,” he said with a grin. “I’ll give him a nice hug like I did in college.”
Opposite Nwosu, fourth-round pick Kyzir White is adjusting to linebacker as well, having played safety at West Virginia. Like Nwosu, the early returns have been promising.
“It’s going well,” White said. “It is a transition, but I am just learning as I go, picking up on little things and just trying my best.”
It has helped White that his brother, Kevin, a former first-round pick for the Chicago Bears, has been able to provide guidance. The two speak every day.
“He said control what I can, relax out there,” White said. “It is football at the end of the day. I know what I’m doing. Just play fast. Go out there, make plays and have fun. It’s a kid’s game, so just go out there and have fun.”