Ladd McConkey generating buzz, making big plays at Los Angeles Chargers OTAs

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Chargers received plenty of praise from draft pundits for selecting wide receiver Ladd McConkey. While a true grade on his selection can’t be made for years, the rookie is off to a nice start in the Chargers organized team activities.

While McConkey entered the pre-draft process with some medical concerns, related to his back, the former Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver has been a full participant in practices since being drafted by Los Angeles. After showing off his skills in rookie minicamp, McConkey is now practicing with long-time NFL players in Chargers OTAs this week.

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There can be an adjustment period for rookies when they face veterans for the first time, especially at wide receiver. Los Angeles has plenty of experienced players at cornerback, giving them an additional edge over McConkey who is settling in and also trying to build chemistry with quarterback Justin Herbert. Fortunately, all seems to be going well.

Daniel Popper of The Athletics highlighted 12 observations he had from the Chargers’ first OTA practice under Jim Harbaugh. While there are several changes from Los Angeles that bode well, especially in comparison to the Brandon Staley era, the early news on McConkey is especially promising.

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Popper writes that Herbert and McConkey are already “developing a connection” very early in the offseason. The Chargers’ rookie has spent significant time with the first-team offense, largely playing the slot, even showing off his connection with Herbert on the practice field.

“On the second play of the first 11-on-11 period, McConkey beat rookie cornerback Tarheeb Still down the seam, and Herbert hit him for an explosive gain. Later in practice, Herbert connected with McConkey on back-to-back competitions — one on an over route and another on an out route from the slot. McConkey also beat cornerback Ja’Sir Taylor on a slant out of the slot in the second-to-last period for a third-down conversion.”

Los Angeles Chargers beat reporter Daniel Popper on Ladd McConkey

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Los Angeles Chargers news: Joe Alt splitting reps with first, second-teams

While McConkey spent a majority of his prac reps with the Chargers’ first-team offense, the team is taking a different approach with first-round pick Joe Alt.

The first offensive line rotation the Chargers used had Alt on the bench, with Jamaree Salyer at right guard and Trey Pipkins III at right tackle. However, after three snaps, Alt rotated in at right tackle with Pipkins kicking inside to guard. Los Angeles rotated throughout practice, also giving Alt reps at right tackle with the second-team offense.

Unsurprisingly, per Popper, the expectation is that Alt and McConkey will be starters at right tackle and slot receiver in Week 1. As for the right guard spot, it’s tentatively poised to be a position battle between Pipkins and Salyer.