Chargers see the ‘good’ in revving up intrasquad scrimmage
Hear from Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, quarterback Philip Rivers and more after Saturday’s “Blue and White Scrimmage” in Costa Mesa.
Keenan Allen, who has roamed as uncovered as the morning sun, stepped to the line of scrimmage Saturday morning, where he was greeted by cornerback Casey Hayward. The two slapped hands and then got to work.
Pitting the best receiver on the Chargers against the best corner, something that happens regularly enough in drills during training camp, seemed even more important Saturday, with the Chargers moving closer to full contact and full speed during an intrasquad scrimmage at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa.
The most compelling reps, starters against starters, are the most valuable and play a key role in the growth of the team throughout the season.
“It’s been a lot of ‘good versus good,’ ” quarterback Philip Rivers said. ”We’re a close team, but those DBs and receivers get along quite well, believe it or not, even though they compete like crazy. They really help one another out. …The more good versus good you can have, the better off you are because you can really improve day to day.”
The defense got the better of Rivers and the offense in most of the good-versus-good reps Saturday, with second-year safety Rayshawn Jenkins sliding in to intercept a pass by Rivers to end one of the first-team offense’s drives.
“You’re going to go against the same professionals with just different uniforms on Sunday. So, those guys are pushing you to your limit every day and are bringing the best out of you,” Jenkins said. “You have to get better when you’re running with the ones.”
Rivers was 12 of 14 for 150 yards. He also led a scoring drive against the Chargers’ second-string defense.
“I don’t make more of this than any other practice or team session,” Rivers said. “I think it’s been like camp — a little bit of back and forth, which is good. If it was really one-sided, that’s when you really get nervous. It’s been back and forth,” Rivers said. “We did some good things. There are plenty of things to work on, coach on from, correct when we watch the tape this afternoon. We’re still early, shoot, it’s August 4th. We still have over a month until the opener. We just have to keep heading in the right direction.”
And, Saturday, the right direction meant a day without the injury cart being used, the main way the team truly won during the most hard-hitting day of practice.
“We wanted to make this feel more like a game situation for the players. We put them in some game situations, and it felt like it on the field,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “We believe, the more times we can expose them to this type of atmosphere, the better they’re going to get. You’re always concerned about injuries when you have a scrimmage or a live period, but they came out pretty clean. I’m very pleased with that.”
Williams, the Chargers’ first-round pick last year, continued his string of good practices with two touchdown catches Saturday.
“He’s just continuing to get better and better,” Rivers said. “Shoot, we know what Mike is capable of. It’s just a matter of being out here each and every day, as he has been. He continues to make plays every day, and with those plays comes more confidence. He will be a big part of our offense.”
Williams, whom the team picked No. 7 overall in 2017, caught only 11 passes in 10 games last season. But now that he’s healthy, Williams has begun to earn the trust and confidence of his teammates and coaches.
“Those couple days have been really good. It’s nice to see Mike making those catches that we saw him make when we drafted him seventh overall,” Lynn said. “I think Mike’s getting more comfortable right now in our scheme because he’s practicing. He’s staying on the field and now you’re seeing the real Mike Williams.”
Fullback Derek Watt made two catches in the scrimmage, showing he could be in line for an increased role with tight end Hunter Henry out for the season. … Geno Smith completed 10 of 12 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, and Cardale Jones didn’t throw any touchdowns and had a pass intercepted. … Roberto Aguayo was perfect on two field-goal tries and Caleb Sturgis got the day off. … Receiver Dylan Cantrell, the team’s sixth-round pick who had been surging in the last week, is out indefinitely because of a knee injury. He watched practice on crutches. … Running back Justin Jackson, the seventh-round pick, didn’t participate.
Chargers beat writer Dan Woike chats with Annie Heilbrunn about the team’s scrimmage on Saturday, defensive dominance and more.
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