COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Brandon Staley is pleased with what the Los Angeles Chargers have accomplished during free agency.
Now, the next step for the first-year coach is figuring out when he can see his new team on the field.
“I won’t feel like a real coach though until the players show up. Everything has been great so far, but I’m really looking forward to finally coaching the guys,” said Staley, who was hired on Jan. 17 after one season as the Rams defensive coordinator.
“I thought we executed our free-agency plan at a high level. We went into it with a clear vision of what we wanted to accomplish and certainly added a lot of experience and a lot of production.”
Los Angeles, along with the rest of the league, can begin strength and conditioning programs on April 19 along with virtual meetings with coaches.
Until then, Staley can only project what he is hoping to accomplish during the offseason program before training camp begins in late July.
The Chargers' biggest area of focus during free agency was on the offensive line with the signings of center Corey Linsley, guards Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi.
Staley is looking at Linsley not only as the stalwart of the offensive line, but as one of the leaders of the team.
“(QB) Justin (Herbert) and Corey can team up to be one of those special tandems in the league," Staley said. "There’s a lot of centers, but there are a few players who is a difference-maker. We feel like Corey is a difference-maker in more ways than one.”
While Feiler is expected to start at right guard, Staley is not ready to say Aboushi will be his Week 1 starter at the other guard spot. Tyree St. Louis played in five games, including two starts, at guard last season.
“We certainly feel like he’s a starting-caliber player, but he’s going to have to compete. He played like a starter last season, and I feel like he’s definitely got the traits that we’re looking for in that position,” Staley said. “He’s at that perfect spot in his career in my opinion. He’s got a lot of confidence at this point. Hopefully that expresses itself even better with us.”
The only spot on the line that remains a giant question mark is left tackle. The Chargers have Trey Pipkins and Storm Norton on the roster, but they should be in position to grab one of the top prospects with the 13th overall pick in the draft.
The Chargers also added veteran quarterback Chase Daniel, but Staley noted that there will be a competition between Daniel and Easton Stick to back up Herbert. Stick is going into his third season and has been in for only four NFL snaps while Daniel has been in the league since 2009 with 69 games and five starts.
There are high hopes for Herbert, who set an NFL rookie record with 31 touchdowns as well as eight 300-yard games in 15 starts. But the biggest goal for the next couple of months will be to make sure he has a good comfort level working with Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.
“We talked about translating a lot of what Justin knows to our language and him getting that comfort zone of how we call formations, protections, different tempos and cadences, Staley said.
”He's a guy that you can put a lot on, but I think what he proved more than anything last year is he’s just a really natural football player. What we’re hoping to do is get him into that rhythm and comfort zone so all those natural skills can come to life."
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