LA Chargers training camp is officially underway and fans have shown up in droves as excitement around the team is at an all-time high. The Bolts had a monumental offseason and now sport one of the best rosters in the NFL.
One of the biggest areas of concern last season was the run defense, which is something that Tom Telesco and Brandon Staley decided to pour resources into this spring. Outside of Joey Bosa, the entire defensive line is essentially different with Khali Mack on the edge and new faces inside.
While we can build up this new-look run defense as much as we want, the Chargers have to prove that they have improved on the field first. It is not uncommon for fans to build up a certain area of the team only for that area to let them down. Chargers fans are used to that happening in the past.
While practice is just practice, the defensive line is already turning heads and the players on the field have noticed it more so than anyone. When asked about this new-look defensive line, Austin Ekeler had nothing but complimentary things to say, which should have Chargers fans jazzed.
If Ekeler is noticing a stark difference before the players are even allowed to tackle him then that is a great sign for the Chargers' run defense next season.
Luckily, the Chargers run defense has a few games to get its feet wet.
While this is a very promising sign, it is still going to take some time for the newly-formed group to gel together and player at its absolute best. With tough running backs like Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry on the schedule, getting into form is critical.
Luckily, the Chargers' run defense is not thrown to the wolves in that regard early in the season. In fact, the Bolts are going to have a few games to really get the hang of things defensively without the threat of being torched by an elite back.
The first big challenge the Chargers will have on the ground is in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. Prior to that, the Chargers face off against the Las Vegas Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans.
Vegas and KC have talented backs but are pass-first teams while Jacksonville and Houston shouldn't be a problem, although Rex Burkhead absolutely slashed them last year.
Regardless, Austin Ekeler is more talented than any of the running backs that LA faces in the first four weeks of the season. If Ekeler notices a difference, those backs will as well.