COSTA MESA, Calif. — Monday was the first day in pads for the Chargers, so there was clarity regarding who is standing out in camp. One of them is first-round receiver Quentin Johnston.
During the one-on-one, he faced cornerback Ja’Sir Taylor when quarterback Justin Herbert threw a jump ball up, and Johnston high-pointed it and came down with it– made it look easy.
“We’ve been building up the past week for this moment,” Johnston said about having pads for the first day. “This is the moment I feel like everyone in football has been waiting for — to put on the pads and get that thump in, it’s been good.”
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Johnston, who dropped about four passes during different drills, but he is learning. That is what is important.
He is still getting things down.
“It has its ups and downs, a big learning curve for me,” Johnston said. “At the same time, I’m getting ahold of everything pretty quickly, so it’s been fun for me.”
Johnston has been working with the one’s and two’s as training camp has come along. The Chargers have a lot of talent at receiver, with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Josh Palmer.
Palmer seems like a forgotten guy at times, but due to injuries that last season, he was asked to step up.
After he was drafted in April, Johnston said he was excited about joining the Chargers because he wanted to be a sponge and soak up all of the knowledge of three talented receivers.
“Being under those guys, especially as a new guy coming in, learning from those multi-time pro bowlers,” he said. “It’s good for me to sit back and listen to what they have to say, take some of their game and apply it to my game and make myself better.”
There was much excitement when he came in by numerous players. Herbert called him a playmaker, Allen said he was a phenomenal athlete, and Williams noticed he was athletic, fast, and had size. Lastly, safety Derwin James said, “He’s that guy.”
It feels similar to when Joey Bosa, Casey Hayward, and numerous defensive players boasted about rookie Justin Herbert.
“I think that you guys are witnesses to it,” Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said. “He cares a lot about his game. He works really hard. He can make big plays. He’s still a work-in-progress in terms of learning what to do and how to do it, but he can do it.”
The connection so far between Herbert and Johnston has looked smooth.
“It took me a few days,” Johnston said about adjusting to his new quarterback. “That’s just something you get used to, especially when the ball is right there in your face when you come out of routes. It’s always a good feeling to have that.”
Johnston adds something unique that the Chargers haven’t had, speed. They have needed a burner, and now they have one in the rookie out of TCU.
He will get plenty of practice with the talent that the Chargers have in the secondary. They have a lengthy and fast corner in Michael Davis, a feisty corner in Asante Samuel Jr., and a talented ball hawk in J.C. Jackson. Not to mention Taylor, whom he has faced numerous times as well.
“I think day in and day out, going against guys like that is going to ultimately make me better,” he said.
When a player is drafted in the first round, it feels like a sense of pressure comes with it.
Johnston is focused on continuing to grow as a player and making an impact on this team moving forward.
“For me, not really,” Johnston said. “Being a four- or five-star going into college, all that stuff goes out the window once you’re there. It’s all about work at the end of the day; it’s football. I came here to work. I don’t really feel any pressure.”
Nuts N’ Bolts
·Kicker competition: Cameron Dicker was the guy to take field goals on Monday. He went 7-for-8 missing one from 48-yards but made them from 33, 30, 36, 44, 40, 53, and 38 yards.
·As of right now, the punt returners have been Derius Davis, Darrius Shepherd, and John Hightower.
·Offensive line vs. Defensive line standouts: right tackle Foster Sarell, left tackle Rashawn Slater, and defensive lineman Christopher Hinton.