Mon, 06 Dec 2021

Here's a breakdown of the news from the Chargers' 11th week of the season:

Monday: Hybrid Linebacker

On Monday, head coach Brandon Staley, center Corey Linsley and linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. broke down the Chargers' Week 10 matchup against the Vikings.

Murray Jr. was able to return to game action for the first time since Week 3 against the Chiefs. In his return, the second-year linebacker debuted his new hybrid-style position.

On Monday, Murray Jr. talked about how he felt back on the gridiron and in his new role.

"It went well," Murray Jr. said. "I feel like there are things I can do to be better. As we're going throughout the game, I kept talking to my coach [Defensive Line/OLBs], saying, 'Man, I see this. I can shoot it here; I can be better here to make more impact plays.' But it went well. That plan started to develop as I started to come back and get healthier. Just talking about giving me more of a role on the edge, and also playing inside backer as well, which I feel is good. I like that role because it allows me to be multiple and show my versatility."

Staley talked about how the performance of linebacker Kyzir White has helped Murray Jr. develop his new role and the importance of having a player like White on defense.

"Kyzir White is playing at a high level for an NFL linebacker. He has the entire season. He started, really, with an outstanding training camp, and then he's just gotten better and better as the season has gone on. He's a commander. He can really see the game. He's calm. He's physical. He's outstanding in pass coverage. He can blitz. He's a complete linebacker. He had 12 tackles yesterday. That physicality that he brings to the table, he had a big tackle for a loss. He's outstanding in past coverage. He's a general out there. He's the type of guy that we definitely want to be joining up with, playing defense with. I'm really proud of the way that he's playing."

Wednesday: Two QBs to prepare for in primetime matchup

As the Chargers geared up to face the Steelers (5-3-1) on Sunday Night Football, the Bolts placed Joey Bosa and Jerry Tillery on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday.

But on Wednesday, the focus shifted to Pittsburgh. The Steelers faced a similar situation with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on the Reserve/COVID list as well.

Given their quarterback questions, Staley talked about how the team is preparing for both Steelers QBs in Roethlisberger and backup Mason Rudolph.

"You have to prepare for both styles," Staley said. "I feel like you get a strong sense of how they play with Mason because you have last week to go over, and then last year when he was in the game - you have film of him playing in games. Then, you can certainly watch him in the preseason, just to get a feel for if this offense is really changing for him. They're a similar style of players. Mason's a big statured guy. He has a very good arm, has enough mobility, like Ben. I think that we have a good plan for both guys. We're going to have to prepare that way."

The Bolts also explained how they are preparing to contain the Steelers' standout rookie running back in Najee Harris. Safety Derwin James talked about what stands out to him about the first-year back who has totaled 963 yards and six touchdowns.

"I like Najee's game," James said. "I feel like he's a big guy, he runs hard, runs strong and I feel like he's going to have a great career in this league...I mean we gotta come with it, every back we play it's a tough challenge to bring them down so like I said, he's another guy that we are going to need everybody around the ball."

Chargers defensive lineman Christian Covington was also added to the COVID list on Wednesday. With three members of the defensive line added to that list, the Chargers signed defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko to the active roster and signed defensive lineman Caraun Reid to the practice squad.

Thursday: Better together

On Thursday, wide receiver Keenan Allen and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi talked about how the offense is growing as a group together in the first year of this system. Allen discussed the state of the unit at this point in the season.

"I think it's still building," Allen said. "Obviously, we're still looking for the whole togetherness for the whole game. Trying to put that together and still working, trying to get better."

Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill talked about the emphasis the defense has put on limiting opposing rushing attacks after the bye week. Hill gave insight into what they were able to do in order to make those improvements.

"The biggest thing we did was just scrape it off," Hill said. "Scrape it from the start and build this thing over. Just hearing the verbiage again, we wanted to make sure that everybody was on the same page, players and coaches that we are all talking about the same thing and how we are going to play it. From the front to the back, they hear it in detail what everyone needs to do in order to be successful in the run game."

Friday: Davis and Adderley back

On Friday, the Steelers officially ruled out key starters on their defense in linebacker T.J. Watt and cornerback Joe Haden. Flipping to the offense, as of Friday, Roethlisberger's status was still unknown.

In terms of injury updates for the Chargers, the Bolts cleared cornerback Michael Davis and Nasir Adderley for Sunday's game. Staley talked about Davis' week of practice and what it means to get him back after missing two games with a hamstring injury.

"We really feel like this guy has practiced well this week, so if he is out there on the field, then he will play full," Staley said. "That's an expectation position, to go the whole way. If he needs a blow, then we'll give him one. Kind of similar to [LB Kenneth] Murray [Jr.], you go until you need one, and then you tell us that. It'll be similar with Mikey. He's practiced well this week and has looked really good. His conditioning has looked good. With his first game action in a couple of weeks, if he needs one, we'll give him one. Other than that, he'll be out there playing for us."

With Bosa's game status still day-to-day, Staley said he is confident in the depth in the defensive line room. Staley talked about what he expects from the D-line on Sunday.

"They've improved a lot," he said. "Where we were at the beginning and where we are now, with all of our guys, are different. We expect them to go play well. I know that Linval Joseph and all of these other guys are expecting those guys to play well. [Defensive Line Coach] Giff Smith has done a really good job of improving that group. They've shown a lot of improvement from the bye, all of them - game action and in practice. We expect those guys to go out there and do the job."

With a win against the Steelers on Sunday Night Football, the Chargers will improve to 6-4 on the season and have a chance to reclaim first place in the AFC West with a Kansas City loss.

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