For the second time in three seasons, Tyrod Taylor finds himself as the incumbent at quarterback with a top of the first round draft selection waiting to take that starting job, with all of it playing out on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”
In 2018, Taylor was on top of the Cleveland Browns’ depth chart when he was attempting to stave off No. 1 overall selection Baker Mayfield, with the training camp drama playing out on “Hard Knocks.” He started three games before getting a concussion during a “Thursday Night Football” game in which Mayfield came in and delivered the Browns’ first win in 635 days.
This season, Taylor moved up to No. 1 on the Los Angeles Chargers’ depth chart when Philip Rivers signed with the Indianapolis Colts. More than a month later, the Chargers selected Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert with the No. 6 overall selection in the draft.
The Chargers’ veteran-vs.-first-round pick showdown will play out this month, and “Hard Knocks” has showed that Herbert has immense talent. Tuesday night’s episode showed that he also has a lot to learn.
In Oregon’s offense, Herbert lined up exclusively in the shotgun formation. He didn’t call out any signals, only clapping to start the play. Now in the NFL, Herbert also has to learn to take snaps under center, as well as calling out snap counts. It is this adjustment Herbert needs work on, and the truncated training camp isn’t going to help the rookie adjust quickly.
Herbert is tipping his hand on snap counts.
“I can tell the difference whether it’s a run or a pass based on the way you talk. Just keep that in mind, OK?” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn tells him.
Taylor is then shown taking the reigns behind center. He shows why he’s entering his 10th NFL season and gives Herbert a tutorial.
Herbert is standing next to veteran offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga, as the two watch Taylor’s every move.
“Just listen to the rhythmic cadence of (Taylor’s snap count),” Bulaga tells Herbert. “That first ‘Green 80.’ If he just flies through that ‘Green 80 Green Hut,’ there’s no timing there for linemen to get good jumps off the (expletive) ball. And as a quarterback you want us to get off the (expletive) ball.”
Herbert’s development into confident pro quarterback will be a fascinating follow in camp.
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Here are other notable moments from the second episode of “‘Hard Knocks” with the Chargers and Rams:
Can’t escape the coronavirus
Andrew Whitworth is entering his 15th NFL season. The 38-year-old Whitworth — sporting a beard with noticeable grey hair — is the subject of old man jokes (“There’s a reason why Andrew Whitworth is going into his 40th year in the NFL. This guy’s got great standards,” Rams head coach Sean McVay jokes at a team meeting).
However, Whitworth’s 15th NFL training camp was no given. Whitworth contracted the coronavirus. So did his wife, four children and 66-year-old in-laws. Whitworth’s father-in-law was hospitalized but eventually released and sent home.
“Our nanny, Krista, had gone to a meal with a friend and we come to find out that that restaurant had a little bit of a (COVID-19) breakout. She ends up coming up positive, and then eventually that led to (my wife) Melissa and I getting it,” Whitworth said.
Seth Ryan, the son of former NFL coach Rex Ryan, is now the Chargers’ offensive quality control coach. Seth Ryan appeared in the 2010 edition of “Hard Knocks” when NFL Films’ cameras followed Rex Ryan’s Jets (“I bet you anything he coaches,” Rex Ryan said in 2010).
Father was right. Seth — who was a walk-on receiver at Clemson and was part of the Tigers’ team that won the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship — is in his second season as an assistant coach on Lynn’s staff. Seth Ryan also had a positive COVID-19 test scare. A day and a half after a positive test, he learned it was a false positive and returned to Chargers practice.
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