8 takeaways from start of Chargers training camp

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The Chargers’ preparation for the 2022 season began this past week, as they opened up training camp.

Within the four sessions, we gathered a few notable things from head coach Brandon Staley’s squad.

Before the pads come on Monday, here’s a recap of what stood out from the first few days of camp.

Derwin James did not participate

Nearly every single player has participated except for star safety Derwin James, who awaits his new contract, which is expected to make him the league’s highest-paid safety.

Staley said that the two sides are working through James’ contract situation and that he won’t go “full speed” until it’s resolved.

James is still making his presence felt, however. He participated in walk-throughs before practice with the rest of the starting defense and served as a mentor by giving pointers to some of the other defensive backs.

Mark Webb taking advantage of Derwin James' absence

While James was sidelined, Webb got an opportunity to work with the first-team defense at Money (safety-linebacker hybrid) and safety with the second-team defense, where he raised some eyebrows.

Webb notched the first interception of training camp, picking off Chase Daniel in the middle of the field. In addition, he blew up a would-be check-down to Josh Palmer.

Webb, the team’s 2021 seventh-round pick, is returning from a knee injury that caused him to miss the final nine games of last season. If healthy, he provides valuable depth across the secondary.

Biggest addition's presences have been felt

The Chargers sought out star power on the defensive side of the ball by acquiring cornerback J.C. Jackson and edge defender Khalil Mack, and early on, they’ve shown why they were worth the investments.

On the first play of team drills, Justin Herbert’s pass intended for wide receiver Mike Williams was broken up by Jackson.

Jackson and Mike Williams will be on the boundary across from each other for the most part when pads come on, which will make out to be fiery one-on-one battles.

On the other hand, Mack has been involved in the run game on a few what-would-be tackles for loss.

It’s hard to gauge offensive and defensive line play until the pads come on, but tackle Rashawn Slater said Mack has already put a couple of variations on some moves that he’s never even seen before.

Rookie corners flashing

Adding cornerback depth was imperative for Staley’s system, so he drafted Ja’Sir Taylor and Deane Leonard. So far, the two have had their low moments, like any other rookie, but they have impressed in coverage.

Leonard has nabbed a few passes defended, showing lower-body quickness/footwork to mirror in press-man, athleticism to stay on receiver’s hip, and the length to disrupt at the catch point.

Meanwhile, Taylor’s electric athleticism and ability in the right place at the right time led him to make plays on the ball, including an almost interception on Daniel.

Right tackle battle update

As I mentioned, it’s difficult to tell who has the leg up among offensive and defensive linemen until the pads come on, so there isn’t any telling who has the advantage for the starting right tackle spot between Trey Pipkins and Storm Norton.

The two will likely continue to rotate each day with the first team, and based on who is more superior during one-on-ones, team drills, and into preseason play, will be the one who gets the job. The needle will begin to move this upcoming week.

Kyle Van Noy's role

Kenneth Murray has been out while he recovers from ankle surgery. Murray does not have a set timeline, but they’re hoping to get him on the field in the next 4-6 weeks.

For the time being, Van Noy has been spending all his time working as an inside linebacker in individual and team drills instead of at edge defender, where he can also play.

Staley said they will use this training camp to figure out his best role, but I expect him to line up at both spots during the regular season.

On the topic of linebacker play, Drue Tranquill has been the other with the first-team, while Troy Reeder has been the third option.

Offense gets going late

It’s promising that the defense has shined up to this point in training camp. But it should not come as a surprise since that side of the ball is always ahead of the curve to start. However, on Saturday, the final day of the practice week, the offense reigned supreme in the red zone drills.

According to The Athletic’s Daniel Popper, Herbert connected with Keenan Allen for a touchdown and two first downs on six attempts. DeAndre Carter had two touchdown receptions from Easton Stick. Daniel had three touchdown passes – to Michael Bandy, Joe Reed and Isaiah Spiller.

Isaiah Spiller displaying multi-dimensional skillset

While it’s still early to gauge who has the leg up in the battle for the second running back since the pads have yet to come on, Spiller is still raising eyebrows with his ability as a receiver.

Along with his powerful and make-you-miss running style, Spiller, the fourth-round pick, has drawn rave reviews for his route-running, hands, and juice after the catch in team drills.

With receiving a critical role at the position in Joe Lombardi’s system, Spiller’s skillset will help his case to be Austin Ekeler’s running mate.

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Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire