COSTA MESA, Calif. – Just a day after Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert signed a record extension to become the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history, the Chargers kicked off their 2023 training camp in Costa Mesa.
“I think it’s huge [that the deal was done before camp] because now we’re focused on football, to be the best football team that we can be,” Herbert said. “And you know, it’s not gonna be a distraction for us.”
On the field, Herbert has looked every bit worthy of a record contract. In terms of team success, however, the Chargers have yet to come close to unseating the Kansas City Chiefs atop the division and are looking to bounce back from blowing a 27-point lead against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC wild-card round.
Herbert showed off his $262 million arm on Wednesday, with multiple deep completions and a few touchdowns during 7-on-7 drills. The 6-foot-6 quarterback is looking to take the next step in his career under Staley and former Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore.
Head coach Brandon Staley spoke on the integration of Moore into the offense.
“He’s what we’re about,” Staley said. “His experience as a player and a coach, and being able to build on that and his success in Dallas. I think he’s made all of us better. This is a work in progress, we’re far from the finished product so we have to take this training camp and it’s going to be well into the season for us to figure out who we are [offensively].”
Under Moore, the Chargers are looking forward to the new, revamped offense, and building on an offense that finished third in total passing yards last year. The Chargers defense has also noticed the improvements in the offensive system.
“A lot of those guys over there are confident,” safety Derwin James said. “Justin is getting the ball down field, you see our receivers, they’re tall, and we got a lot of speed over there. And our offensive line is good too. So just having all those weapons I feel like just getting the ball into playmakers hands and with Kellen Moore calling plays, I feel like we’re gonna do a great job.”
Along with the new system, the Chargers receiver core and offensive line is fully healthy again after being hit with injuries last season, specifically to wide receiver Keenan Allen, all-pro left tackle Rashawn Slater, and center Corey Linsley. Herbert also missed time last season with fractured rib cartilage.
As the Chargers head into the 2023 season, Herbert is laser focused on not letting his new contract get to his head, rather growing into his role as the leader of the team.
“I think that’s kind of the role of the quarterback is to have that big responsibility,” he said. “And I look forward to that challenge. I’ve grown each year and I’ve gotten better at that and there’s still room for improvement, but I’m going to be the best quarterback teammate, whatever the team needs me to be. I’m up for the challenge.”
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