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Chargers believe they’ve cornered market with Casey Hayward-Chris Harris Jr. duo

Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward gestures.
Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward looks forward to playing next to free-agent acquisition Chris Harris Jr.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Both have made multiple Pro Bowls while playing in the same division over the past four seasons.

Now Chris Harris Jr. and Casey Hayward are teammates with the Chargers, the two cornerbacks eager for what their new joint venture might bring.

“I haven’t had a good counterpart with me since Talib,” Harris said. “So I’m definitely excited to see what we can do.”

Harris was referring to Aqib Talib, his former teammate in Denver. The two played together for four seasons before Talib was dealt to the Rams.

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After nine seasons with the Broncos, Harris signed with the Chargers as a free agent in March.

“He’s a really smart, savvy guy,” Hayward said. “A lot of plays under his belt. As long as he plays like the Chris Harris Jr. we’ve seen, we got a chance to be really good.”

The latest episode of “Hard Knocks” centers on the Chargers’ and Rams’ rookies unusual situation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Harris is generally recognized as one of the top slot cornerbacks in NFL history. The Chargers have been playing him both inside and outside in practice as they sort out their secondary.

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When Harris plays inside, Michael Davis has remained the starting outside corner opposite Hayward.

Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said the secondary is still in the “infancy stage.” The back end of the defense is the Chargers’ deepest position group.

“We’re just trying to find out who we are back there and what’s the best group,” Bradley said. “They’re all going to be playing. It’s just who’s going to be the first one in.”

Ingram missing

Edge rusher Melvin Ingram, who was on the field for the first three days of training camp but didn’t participate in practice, was not present Wednesday. He is dissatisfied with his contract situation.

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Ingram is entering the final season of a four-year, $64-million deal he signed in June 2017. He is scheduled to make $14 million in base salary.

Nearly two years ago, Tyrod Taylor lost his starting quarterback job following a disastrous game. He’s ready to prove himself again with the Chargers.

Coach Anthony Lynn has refused to discuss Ingram’s status in detail, calling it “company business.”

“Until he gets out there in practice,” Lynn said Wednesday, “I don’t have anything to say about that.”

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Murray sore

Rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. was again limited by what Lynn called “soreness.” The first-round pick worked mostly on his own.

The Chargers were scheduled to practice in full pads, but Lynn adjusted that plan because he said too many players were experiencing the early aches of training camp.

“We’re just being really careful right now,” he said. “I’m not trying to rush.”

Because the NFL has canceled the preseason, the Chargers have six extra practices this summer. At least one of those is expected to take place at the new SoFi Stadium.

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Adrian Garcia-Marquez and Francisco Pinto will be covering Chargers games this season on Que Buena 105.5/94.3 FM.

“We have more than enough [time] to get ready, in my opinion,” Lynn said. “It’s not the time; it’s the evaluation process. … You don’t get a chance to see certain guys play in games. Not everyone plays in games like they practice. So that’s going to be a little tricky.”

Tillery plays end

Second-year defensive lineman Jerry Tillery worked for the second consecutive day at the Chargers’ big end position. He played inside last year as a rookie.

“We need guys who can play multiple positions,” Lynn said. “You never know what’s going to happen this year. He’s built to do both. I thought he did a very good job playing end, to be honest with you.”


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