Harbaugh Praises Justin Herbert’s Athleticism: ‘He Could Play Tight End or Edge Rusher For Chargers’

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh took time to speak with the press before the first day of mandatory minicamp took place on Tuesday morning. He was asked if there was anything that took him by surprise about quarterback, Justin Herbert.

Harbaugh was hired shortly after the conclusion of the 2023 season. This month saw the first in-person practices in the form of OTAs held this month and today kicked off the three-day minicamp, the last practice before training camp starts at the end of July.

Justin Herbert Smashed Conditioning Test, Impresses Harbaugh

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers OTA
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“The conditioning test was was another eye opener,” Harabugh said, “It’s like, Boy, just when you think he can’t go another rung on the ladder of my esteem, he finds another one. He smashed the conditioning test last Thursday. I mean crushed it. [He was] out in front of people trying to keep up with him. The athleticism and the strength, I mean he could play tight end here, he could play edge rusher here. And the arm talent is even better than advertised. It’s an exciting thing. I mean, I found myself just sitting at my desk at times and going FISTPUMPS THE AIR* He’s on our team!” 

A reporter asked Harbaugh to follow up on what it means to have the quarterback the most highly conditioned athlete on his team;

“There’s been so many guys that have stepped up into that role of ‘example-setter,’ ‘tone-setter.’ [They are] here every day, [in] every meeting, every weight room session, every practice. Engaged. I mean every day, every hour, every minute. Nobody more than Derwin James and Justin Herbert. Those two have been really been off the charts and incredible and set the tone and been leaders by example the entire offseason.” 

More Praise From Harbaugh

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers OTA
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Harbaugh was asked what most excites him about working with Herbert. The coach had a hard time identifying one thing but did list off a handful of things that have impressed him.

“Boy, that would be a long list. I don’t have that list in front of me right now but it’s just a bunch [of things]. Numerous throws of course, smashing the conditioning test, just like child’s play. The way he’s picked up the system – the cadence, the motion, landmarks, [identifying] every the protections. His knowledge of protections.”

“If I had to say the top of the list, it would be just the way he elevates teammates. He lifts them up. Kind of makes himself smaller and them bigger. Opposed to the guy that pushes the others down. You know ‘Look at me.” 

NFL: Justin Herbert: Los Angeles Chargers OTA
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports