AFC Notes: Justin Herbert, Ladd McConkey, Broncos, Chargers, Raiders

Broncos

Denver HC Sean Payton cut new Broncos DB coach Jim Leonhard in his playing days back in 2013, but he joined Payton’s staff this year for his first NFL coaching job. Leonhard discussed why he chose Denver despite not being very connected to the franchise. 

“He cut me, so he had to overcome some things there,” Leonhard said, via Parker Gabriel of The Denver Post. “But it was a unique enough experience for me. It was later in my career, but the way he talked, the way he communicated with the team and set the vision for what the program was all about, it felt a little different and it piqued my interest.”

“(Denver) wasn’t a team that I necessarily studied or knew everything about. A little bit of trust in his track record and what I had seen and been around as a player and other coaches I’d talked to that have been around him. Just thought it was a unique opportunity to come into.”

Chargers

Chargers QB Justin Herbert admitted it’s going to be tough replacing WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, who now play for the Bears and Jets respectively. 

“They are two of the best to ever do it. Two great teammates, friends, competitors. It’s tough to replace guys like that because there’s not many like them,” Herbert said, via ChargersWire. 

Herbert is still confident in their receivers with Quentin Johnston, Josh Palmer, Ladd McConkey, D. Chark and other options. 

“But I feel comfortable with the group we have here that have stepped up and done a great job picking up this offense and going out there and competing. I know we don’t have pads on or anything but I love the day they attack the day of practice, weights, tape, film,” Herbert said. “That receiver group is special and I’m looking forward to throwing them the ball.”

Herbert has already built some chemistry with McConkey, who is proving to be an intelligent player. 

“He’s just picked up the offense so easily, it’s like he’s been a four of five-year vet,” Herbert said. “He understands the game, understands leverages, a smart player. And he’s very athletic. He’s one of those guys who is able to beat man coverage and finds the soft spot in zones.

“I’m really looking forward to getting him the ball,” Herbert added.

Raiders

Raiders HC Antonio Pierce has been impressed by second-year WR Tre Tucker and told reporters to overlook his smaller frame at 5 feet, 9 inches tall. 

“Don’t look at the size, don’t mention that,” Pierce said, via ProFootballTalk. “Watch him play. He’s the biggest guy out there. He had a hell of an offseason… Everything that we talked about working on, he took that to another level. And you could see the look in his eye of a confident player, of a guy that’s just going to constantly get better. He’s pushing.”

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