Initial comments …
“As we look forward and prepare for the Chargers, obviously they’ve really hit their stride. They’ve won close games and been up in games, so they’ve had the tale of both sides of those. They’re playing really well on offense, whether it be running the football when (Melvin) Gordon or the other back is in there. Then obviously with what Keenan Allen and Phillip Rivers are doing in the pass game, it’s very impressive right now. We’ve got another hot offense we’re going up against. On the other side of the ball, defensively, what they do, they do very well. They have their young safety (Derwin James) doing a great job of fitting in and making plays both in the pass game and even pressuring, blitzing and in run game tackling. We know with their outside rushers in (Melvin) Ingram and (Joey) Bosa what they bring to the table each and every time.”
How do you guys switch up the schedule to handle a west-coast trip? Are you going out early on Friday after practice?
“Yeah. We’ll just leave Friday after practice. Basically, we always try to keep our schedules as normal as possible and keep the players’ familiarity with the timing of everything so that it’s not a very big change for them.”
What makes Phillip Rivers so good as a quarterback?
“His understanding and study of the opponent’s defense. He tries to know you as well as you know yourself. His ability within their offense to attack what they feel is the perceived weakness.”
You’ve seen him since the Senior Bowl in 2004. How has he changed? Do you remember him back then as a gangly guy from NC State?
“I don’t think he’s changed. He was a very confident player. He was on the other squad during the time spent there around those guys (at the Senior Bowl). They were very impressed with him, but I think it’s his confidence and his ability to make accurate throws. He’s a smart guy and he’s a great leader. He has all of those attributes. It seems like for a while there (the Chargers) were in our division, because we were playing them every year.”
He had those attributes back then?
“Yeah, I think so. That’s what the people saw in him there.”
When A.J. Green went out with an injury in 2016, Cody Core stepped in and played pretty well. He’s struggled this year, but do you think that touchdown last week could be a jumpstart for him?
Other than catching the ball, what do you need to see more of?
“He has to be more consistent. You have to be where you’re supposed to be when your opportunity comes. You have to free yourself, whether it’s man coverage, zone coverage, whatever it is, you have to get to the right spots. If the quarterback’s progression leads you there, you have to be in position to make the plays.”
Once A.J. comes back from his injury, will he be fine, or is that something with his toe that could linger throughout his career?
“No, I think they feel very confident that with his injury — albeit the same one he had a month ago — whatever they decide is the best course of action, he will be healed and will be 100 percent.”
Is it something where he could be back by OTAs?
“I think so. They’ll know more once he continues to see the people opining on what the best course of action is.”
So they haven’t decided yet if he’s going to have surgery or give it time to let it heal?
“It’s a matter of them making a decision, and A.J. making a decision as to what the best course of action is.”
What have you learned about CB William Jackson this year?
“William over the last three or four weeks is really understanding what playing cornerback is all about. There’s more to it than just lining up on your guy. You have to understand the changes that occur within the play, the scheme and the coverage. He has to keep adjusting to that throughout. He had a chance on a big third down last week, and the guy pushes him by. We have to understand the situation and have to play strong in those things. That’s an opportunity for him as he goes forward — to understand a situation like that. It’s something we hadn’t seen from that positioning, but yet it can happen, so you have to be at your best all the time.”
For him right now, are the mental nuances of the game the key to him taking the next step?
“Yeah, it’s part of any development for a young player. William missed his first year, so then you’re kind of getting everything on the fly. Through last offseason, and now this season being out there, he’s fought through injuries. He dealt with a lot a year ago. I shouldn’t even say that (laughs), but just to be out there each and every day practicing and doing those things is great.”