title=

Los Angeles Chargers outside linebacker Joey Bosa (97) walks off the field after a practice at NFL Football Team Training Camp on Wednesday, July 27, 2022 in Costa Mesa, Calif. (AP Photo/Ringo HW Chiu)

PA

Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack began getting to know each other during the final three weeks of the Los Angeles Chargers’ offseason schedule.

The process of trying to live up to expectations of what could be one of the best passing duos in the league begins to intensify with training camp.

The two players got up to speed on Thursday as the Chargers had their second practice. On a defense that will likely see six new starters, the pairing of Bosa and Mack will be one of the more notable defensive stories.

“Me and Khalil feel like we’re definitely going to have a close bond by the end of this year,” said Bosa, who is entering his seventh season with the Bolts. “We are kind of together, we all practice talking about football all the time. We have complementary styles, I think. We rush quite differently, so we can both learn a lot from each other.

Bosa has 58 career sacks since entering the league in 2016, who is sixth in that span, and third with 250 quarterback pressures. Mack is second with 256 squeezes and seventh with 57 1/2 sacks.

Mack had six sacks in seven games for Chicago last season, but was sidelined the rest of the season with a foot injury. He was traded in the offseason after the Bears changed their front office and coaching staff.

Mack, a nine-year veteran in the league, was able to go full speed the first two days after rehabilitating his foot during drills and off-season minicamp.

One advantage for Mack is that Chargers coach Brandon Staley was the linebackers coach at Chicago in 2018, so getting acclimated shouldn’t take that long.

“Going in and learning a new defense, there are learning curves. There are some things, but at the end of the day it’s about playing fast and doing what we’re paid to do,” Mack said.

Bosa and Mack have complementary styles of play, but the way they rush the passer is different. While most pass rushers rely on speed and then power, Bosa is the opposite. He is also one of the best pass rushers when it comes to using his hands.

Mack starts with a series of speed runs, then uses his long arms to unbalance opposing offensive linemen to gain an advantage.

Bosa — who had 10 1/2 sacks and a league-leading 7 1/2 strip sacks last season — said he hasn’t watched many movies with Mack yet, but that will change.

“I think sometimes they’re the best people you can learn from because it’s a different feel and they see things that you don’t see. They use a technique that you may not have learned or used before,” Bosa said. “We both do similar things here and there, but we definitely have different styles and we train and learn from each other. I try to teach him and the youngsters as much as I can, but at the same time I just try to watch him and learn what I can just by watching him.

Acquiring Mack and signing cornerback JC Jackson were key decisions the Chargers made as they attempted to revamp a defense that was 23rd overall last season and near bottom in key categories, including stopping the run, leaving the field on third down and points awarded in the second half and overtime.

The Chargers were 9-8 last season, but defensive struggles were one of the reasons they missed the playoffs for the third straight year.

New defensive linemen Sebastian Jones-Day and Morgan Fox also played for Staley. Jones-Day and Fox were with the Rams in 2020 when Staley was the defensive coordinator. This is one of the main reasons why Bosa thinks the acclimatization period will not be long.

Before opening against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 12, the Chargers offensive line will face Bosa and Mack, who offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi says will serve his unit well in the run-up to the season.

“I think it will be great for the development of our tackles and tight ends to have to block these guys because it’s going to be an all day affair when you come here against these guys,” said Lombardy. “I think it will help us prepare for the monsters we will have to block during the season.”

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL