Johnston building relationship with fellow receivers

The Chargers rookie receiver Quentin Johnston is already building a bond with his fellow receivers.

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Friday morning was the first day that first-round draft pick Quentin Johnston and the rest of the Chargers rookie class could start minicamp.

Johnston already signed his rookie deal along with five other draft picks; only second-round pick Tuli Tuipulotu remains unsigned.

“Honestly, it was just another stepping stone,” Johnston said. “The money is cool, but I don’t plan on sitting there and blowing it. I’m going to have it in my savings account. I’m not really focused on the money; I’m focused on football.”

He entered the locker room and saw his number 1 jersey hanging up. He put his cleats on and headed to the practice field for the first time as an NFL pro.

“As soon as I put my cleats on and got out on the field, it was a real moment,” Johnston said.

He ran some routes with a familiar face lined up close to him and throwing him the football. Former TCU quarterback Max Duggan and receiver Derius Davis also were drafted by the Chargers.

“It feels like we’re back in Fort Worth [Texas] again,” Johnston said.

Right now, everything is a learning experience. He has met with head coach Brandon Staley, coordinators, and positional coaches.

“Come in, learn the plays as fast as I can. Being a first-round pick, play like that,” Johnston said. “Don’t come in relaxed like I have stuff figured out because, obviously, I don’t. Just like coming into college with four or five stars, all of that stuff goes out the window when you step on the field. A refresh, a restart.”

One of the biggest lessons he received was during his visit after being drafted by the Chargers. When he got back to his hotel room, he was visited by Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Josh Palmer.

They wanted to get to know the rookie that will be joining their receiver room.

“Letting me know that we were all family,” Johnston said. “Letting me know what to expect. Kind of a crash course they gave me of what to expect, how stuff is run, a baseline so that I could get an understanding and feel for the football team, as much as I can at that point.”

There are some levels of expectations for the first-round draft pick. He is joining a receiving room that has a lot of talent. Allen and Williams can get 1,000 yards each, while Palmer can get his own, especially being the third option.

Last season was full of injuries for the receivers’ room, with at one point having to face the number one defense in the NFL in the San Francisco 49ers with Josh Palmer, DeAndre Carter, and Michael Bandy as the starting receivers.

“I think the brotherhood that we have on our football team, and the culture that we have – and our best players are responsible for the culture, and I can’t think of any superstar receivers in the NFL that I’d rather have than Mike Williams and Keenan Allen learning the way, and Josh [Palmer] is such a pro going into his third season,” Staley said.

The expectation is for Johnston to come in and contribute immediately without having to be the lead dog. The talent that Johnston possesses is the exciting part for Staley.

For the receiving trio to come to see him meant the world to the rookie receiver, that said during his rookie press conference that he wanted to be a sponge around them and learn as much as he could about the game.

“That’s everything,” Johnston said. “I feel like I came into a good situation, starting off initially under some guys that have been in the league, playing at a high level for a minute,” Johnston said. “I feel like I can pick a lot of their game, apply it to mine, then kind of expand from there.”

Under Joe Lombardi’s offense, there was a ceiling to the play calling and where the ball was going to go, which hurt the offensive flow.

The feeling is that new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will open the playbook, and the offense could look different. Now adding Johnston to the receiving room will enhance their play calling.

Adding Johnston means another weapon for quarterback Justin Herbert to feed that could free up either of the other three, but to have them come out of their way to speak with the rookie says volumes about the potential they see in him.

“For them to do that, I’m not surprised,” Staley said. “That’s what you need from your leaders on our football team because that’s going to accelerate the development of your young guys. I’m glad that that’s happening. Q is going to be one of them in that room, for sure.”