COSTA MESA — Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert completed a long touchdown pass play to wide receiver Jalen Guyton on one field Wednesday at Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Edge rushers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack pressured opposing quarterbacks and running backs on the other field.
The Chargers and Dallas Cowboys played nice during the first of two joint practices before Saturday’s exhibition at SoFi Stadium. There were no scuffles or bickering on either field as the Chargers’ top offensive players lined up on one field and their top defensive players occupied the other.
For the most part, first-team players for both teams faced first-team players and second-team players faced second-team players in a series of 1-on-1, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. It’s expected that it will be much the same Thursday, with second- and third-team players facing off Saturday.
“I liked the competition,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said of the defensive play. “I felt like we were able to play a lot of guys. I thought that we were physical at the line of scrimmage. (The Cowboys) have a good (offensive) line. They have two of the best backs that you’re going to defend.”
Staley referred to the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. In the early going, the Cowboys broke several plays for what appeared to be big gains, although Staley disputed that notion, saying, “They did not have big runs early. It’s just that you can’t tackle to the ground.”
On the other field, the Chargers’ training camp battles for the starting right tackle position and the second-team running back spot continued with offensive linemen Trey Pipkins III and Storm Norton rotating through plays and backs Joshua Kelley, Larry Rountree III and Isaiah Spiller alternating snaps.
Those battles are among the most intriguing of training camp.
Nothing has been settled, though.
Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi seemed satisfied to let the competition play itself out in both battles. Asked specifically on Tuesday if he would rather have one lineman beat out the other for the job or have both play in a rotating system when the season begins, Staley shrugged.
“I think both,” he said. “You have to be open to both situations if you think both guys are capable of helping your football team. What you want is for one person to become the starter and not look back because it builds trust and continuity. … You have to have an open mind to everything.”
Similarly, Lombardi seemed unconcerned about the lack of separation so far in camp among the running backs vying to become Austin Ekeler’s backup when the regular season begins Sept. 11 against the Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium.
“I think you’re always hoping that someone separates himself, but when they are not separating themselves markedly, then there are two things that can be happening,” Lombardi said. “All three guys could be disappointing or they can all be playing pretty well, and I think they are all playing pretty well. There is a lot of football to play before our first game, so we’ll keep evaluating it. As we get closer, if they’re still clumped together, we’ll just go with the hot hand, I guess.”
Staley said tight end Donald Parham Jr. was considered week-to-week because of a hamstring injury, but “hopefully, next week” he’s able to return to the practice field … Linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. is expected to be activated from the physically unable to perform list Monday, according to Staley. Murray, a first-round draft pick in 2020, is coming off of offseason ankle surgery.