Chargers Don Pads For First Time in 2016

Putting on extra gear adds a whole new dynamic to Training Camp

The Chargers held their first full-pad practice of 2016 Training Camp on Monday. That means a little bit extra weight to run around with but other than that it’s not all that big of an adjustment for a professional football player to make.

“I don’t think it’s really that different for offensive linemen,” said left guard Orlando Franklin. “We’ve been basically full speed and it feels like full pads since Day 1.”

The biggest difference is more mental than it is physical. When you have extra protection on it’s easy to let yourself slip in to using brute force instead of good technique and when you start doing that, bad things can happen.

“With the pads it exposes your lack of technique,” said linebacker Manti Te’o. “If you don’t use proper technique with pads on you’re not going to be successful. You can get away with a lot with just shorts and t-shirts but when somebody is running full speed at you trying to hit you, that’s where you’ll see your technique.”

The word of the day was, indeed, technique. Players from both sides of the ball preached the importance of making sure the things they worked on in the off-season stick now that practice is starting to look like real football again.

“You try to, on the first day of pads, just hone in even more to your technique,” said Franklin. “You don’t want your technique to get all out of whack because you have shoulder pads. You don’t want to be throwing your shoulder you still want to play with your hands.”

It is striking how often successful professional athletes talk about refining their technique. Right tackle Joe Barksdale compares it to one of the greatest basketball players who ever lived.

“Watching Tim Duncan, who was just relentless with his technique, to the point that sometimes in games it would just be emotionless expressions because he’s focused on getting the technique down because that’s what’s going to work every time,” said Barksdale. “Seeing a guy like that have success over so many years it obviously can transfer in to other sports, too.”

Plus, using proper technique can help prevent injuries and that’s something the Chargers need if they’re to have any chance at competing in 2016 at all.

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