Chargers Open Training Camp Without Bosa

First round draft pick is the only holdout left

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Addressing the media after his team’s first training camp practice of 2016, Chargers head coach Mike McCoy opened by inadvertently bringing up the elephant in the room: the player who was NOT in the room.

“It sure is nice to get back on the field with everybody and get all 90 guys … or 89 I should say … practicing,” said McCoy. It’s that 90th guy who is the largest topic of conversation.

Defensive lineman Joey Bosa, the third overall pick in the NFL Draft, is the only first rounder yet to sign his contract. As a quick refresher, he wants more of the bonus money paid earlier in the contract and to have what’s known as offset language where he can get paid by two teams if he’s released before the contract expires.

The Chargers will negotiate the first point. They absolutely will not negotiate the second point, so the guy they were hoping would add a much-needed pass rush element to their defense is nowhere to be seen. Players in the locker room are saying the right things about the rookie’s absence.

“It’s a business,” said Pro Bowl defensive back Jason Verrett, a first round pick in 2014 who signed his contract in May of that year. “That’s out of my control. He’s gonna be here when he gets here and we’re just focused on the guys we’ve got out there right now.”

Quarterback Philip Rivers, who held out in 2004 before the NFL had limits on rookie contracts and first round picks missing parts of training camp was commonplace, believes Bosa is not doing any long-term damage to his relationships in the locker room by missing practice time.

“These guys are our teammates and it’s not normal football,” said Rivers. “There is that business side to it. So it’s not like anybody in there is upset at him. When he gets here he’ll trot out there and we’ll play like he’s been there the whole time.”

But the coaching staff is more direct in voicing its displeasure with the situation.

“He definitely needs to be out here as a rookie,” said McCoy. “He needs to be here. I think everybody needs to be here, especially as a younger player, through the installations and playing with your teammates. The more you play together the faster you’re going to be able to play come game day.”

Bosa’s absence opens the chance for another young player to potentially steal a starting job. Both Darius Philon and Tenny Palepoi have shown flashes of being impact players along the defensive line and are healthy after missing time last year with injuries.

“We’re going to coach the guys who are here and the players that are here did a nice job today,” said McCoy. “It’s an important couple of days for some younger players to step in and do their job.”

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