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New-Look LA Chargers Are Looking For The Same-Old Justin Herbert

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at January 1, 1970

Last summer rookie quarterback Justin Herbert needed directions to get around Chargers Park.

This July there’s no avoiding that Herbert is the leader.

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That’s quite an elevation for the Herbert, who the Chargers plucked from Oregon last year with the No. 6 pick. He went on to set numerous rookie passing records and the Chargers are confident he won’t skip a beat in Year 2.

Even if the season brings with it a new head coach in Brandon Staley and a fresh playbook being implemented by coordinator Joe Lombardi.

Herbert, as he often does, shrugs with what’s on his plate. He never ducks from what’s expected from him or what he expects from himself.

“I think I’ve learned a lot in the last year, playing a lot of football and going through two offenses,’’ Herbert 23, said. “By learning this new system with a lot of the guys out there, we’ve had a lot of fun working together.’’

Herbert, of course, is just one piece of the Chargers’ puzzle which can cause heartburn for defensive coordinators.

Versatile running back Austin Ekeler is fit, wide receiver Keenan Allen is spot-on again with his route-running, veteran tight end Jared Cook is on board and the offensive line has been overhauled, with only right guard Bryan Bulaga as the lone returning starter.

But all eyes are on “Herbie” to see if he can replicate the magic he showed last year in leading the Chargers to four-straight victories to cap his remarkable first season, a year in which he started as a backup.

Others can look back at Herbert seizing the job in the second week and throwing the most touchdown passes (31) and having the most 300-yard passing games (eight) as a rookie.

Herbert rather focus on the path forward as the Chargers seek to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2018.

L.A. is eager to make a push, too, in taking advantage of a standout quarterback still on his rookie contract. Herbert, who signed a four-year, $26 million contract, counts just $6 million against the cap.

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That’s a bargain considering Herbert’s position and production and the Chargers are bent on taking advantage of his window of affordability by surrounding him with complementary pieces.

That’s a compliment to Herbert’s talent and potential, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed on either side of the ball.

“I love Justin, man,’’ safety Derwin James said. “He has a lot of velocity on the ball and a lot of guys over there. He’s been the leader that we need him to be.’’

A leader that this summer knows the way.

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