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Jim Harbaugh gets to work on 1st day of Chargers' offseason program

Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / Getty

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Jim Harbaugh didn't waste any time on the first day of the Los Angeles Chargers offseason program.

Instead of gathering the entire team together to outline expectations for the next three months, Harbaugh got the offense together to begin installing his system before the players went to a lift session in the weight room. He then met with the defense after their morning lift session.

“Just got right into football — putting the schemes in, offensively and defensively. Then, the baseline training. When I say baseline training, it’s just finding out where everybody is, where’s their baseline? What do they need improvement on? Just here to engage," Harbaugh said.

Teams with new coaching staffs are permitted to begin their offseason programs two weeks before the rest of the league. The Chargers, Atlanta and Washington started Tuesday while Carolina, New England, Seattle and Tennessee begin on April 8.

Harbaugh also stressed with the players who showed up for the voluntary workouts that he wants to have one of the most physical teams in the league. That is something Harbaugh has repeatedly said since he was hired in January after leading Michigan to the national championship.

Tight end Hayden Hurst, who played for Carolina last season, said physical showed up often on the PowerPoint presentations during the offensive meetings. Hurst is also familiar with the Harbaugh mentality after playing two seasons for John Harbaugh in Baltimore.

“We want to out-physical teams, we want teams to fear us, we want teams to end up giving up in the fourth quarter, where we’re just hitting our stride. I think that’s where you get the most productive football, when you just out-physical people,” Hurst said.

Since teaching is limited to the meeting rooms the first two weeks, the players are going to be getting very familiar with Ben Herbert, the Chargers new executive director of player performance.

Herbert was the first hire Harbaugh made on his staff after the two worked together for six seasons at Michigan.

Herbert gave the players a questionnaire to fill out asking about their ideal playing weight along with questions about lean mass, fat mass and range of motion.

“My first goal is to make you harder to break,” Harbaugh said.

Herbert and Harbaugh's key areas of focus during the offseason program will be the neck, shoulders, hips, hamstrings and ankles, with particular attention on trying to prevent concussions and soft tissue injuries.

The first thing Herbert stressed though on Tuesday was attention to detail. That included making sure the weight plates were put back where the label at the top of the plate was perfectly square when staked.

“There’s a way we do things and there’s a way we train. It's no different than a DBs eyes or his footwork, or an offensive lineman’s feet or his hand placement. Ways that we practice attention to detail,” he said. “We train a certain way, but also how we keep the room. Just how we do everything, there’s a certain level of detail involved in that.”

Herbert's conditioning program and the buy-in from players was a key reason why Michigan had only three season-ending injuries in its run to the national championship.

“Maybe it’s luck. Maybe it’s the things that we do, impact availability in a positive way. I think the key is, it’s a combination of both, potentially," he said. "I’m not really into luck. I like to control the things that I can control, which is why we emphasize the things that we emphasize in training because, over time, it has proven that our guys, especially the guys that are playing the most football, are available to do that."



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