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    Chargers’ connections serve them well in training camp
    • July 30, 2023

    COSTA MESA — It’s all about connections, as Chargers veterans Keenan Allen and Eric Kendricks said after Day 3 of training camp Saturday at Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Allen has a well-established one with quarterback Justin Herbert. Kendricks is developing one with linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr.

    Allen, a wide receiver, is in his 11th NFL training camp, all with the Chargers, and his fourth as one of Herbert’s top targets. Kendricks, a linebacker, is in his first camp with the Chargers after spending eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings following a stellar collegiate career at UCLA.

    Allen clicked almost immediately with Herbert, the Chargers’ first-round draft pick in 2020. It’s not as if they actually can read each other’s mind, but it often appears they know what the other is thinking as a play or a drill unfolds on the field, the result of endless hours of practice.

    “Just putting on a clinic,” Allen said of Herbert’s growth after a standout career at the University of Oregon. “He’s not really missing. He’s not missing passes. He’s able to see things at the line of scrimmage now with his check calls and he can kind of see the defense and get into his own play.

    “He’s growing a lot.”

    Kendricks was social media friends with Murray before they became teammates, forging a bond over a shared love of cars. Their friendship has only grown since Kendricks signed with the Chargers during the offseason after departing Minnesota, the only NFL home he had known.

    “He likes cars,’ Kendricks said. “I love cars. We’re Instagram friends because of cars not really necessarily because we’re linebackers. Now we’re teammates. The sky’s the limit (for Murray). I don’t really think I’ve seen a linebacker that is built like him and capable of doing the things he can do behind the ball.

    “He’s very versatile.”

    There’s also a mentorship that goes along with being a veteran playing alongside a younger, less-experienced player. Allen, 31, developed his relationships with his fellow wide receivers, including first-round draft pick Quentin Johnston, easily and without hesitation. The same went for Kendricks, also 31.

    Allen and Kendricks are each working under new coordinators this season, but that has only been a positive, as far as the Chargers are concerned. Kellen Moore took over as offensive coordinator from Joe Lombardi during the offseason and Derrick Ansley took over from Renaldo Hill as defensive coordinator.

    “Quarterback, obviously,” Allen said, referring to Moore’s position while with the Dallas Cowboys and collegiately at Boise State.. “He’s a guy who understands the game. He’s player friendly, so he coaches to us and not really what he’s used to or what it was or something like that. He lets us be free. Justin is a pass downfield guy, so if that’s what he wants to do, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

    Asked about the bond between Allen and Herbert, Chargers coach Brandon Staley said, “There’s just that unspoken chemistry on the field that you need, based on all of the different things that you’re going to see, little things that you can’t see from 10,000 feet, but when you’re out there, and it’s moving fast, you have to have that special connection.

    “That anticipation and that trust, they have all of that. You need it. I think what’s been good is Justin has developed that trust with a lot more players now, too. He has that same trust for several other guys now, too, and I think that’s going to make us even more challenging to defend.”

    Staley referred to Kendricks as “a total stud.”

    “There are a lot of things I like about Eric Kendricks,” Staley said. “You see them every single day. They’re little things, they’re big things. He’s calm and you need that out there in the middle. He has full command. He can see the game. He’s a complete player at linebacker.”


    Cornerback J.C. Jackson participated in only a handful of team drills as Staley and the athletic training staff continued to monitor his activity in the opening days of camp. Jackson suffered a season-ending knee injury Oct. 23. …

    Offensive lineman Trey Pipkins III was held out of the latter portion of practice for what Staley said were precautionary reasons. Staley didn’t elaborate. …

    Center Corey Linsley didn’t attend practice to be with his wife, Anna, who is expecting. …

    The Chargers signed linebackers Blake Lynch and Tyreek Maddox-Williams.

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    ​ Orange County Register