LB Bront Bird had an INT and broke loose multiple times in the backfield during Wednesday night’s practice at Qualcomm Stadium. He is one of several second-year players whose production could dramatically improve this season.
Bird came to the Chargers as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech and made the practice squad out of camp. He played in his first game in Week 8 and finished the season having played in nine games with 14 tackles (11 solo, 3 assists) and one pass defensed.
“I was extremely excited when I got pulled up last year from the practice squad,” Bird said. “There is nothing like game experience. Being able to play in that many games last year got me prepared because I was able to play on defense, not only on special teams.”
Bird now comes into training camp knowing he is capable of being a productive player in the NFL. “As a rookie you tend to think it is so different,” Bird said. “You adapt to the speed and it is still just basic football.”
The ability to participate in offseason workouts is another area Bird pointed to for the improvement of his play.
“This year it has helped a lot having OTAs,” Bird said. “Last year was my first year, and we didn’t have any OTAs, so you were thrown into the fire. They had to get the starters ready to play more so than teach the defense. I think this learning process has helped a lot, and I have been able to play a lot faster and react to things. I am not just out there like a chicken with my head cut off.”
Bird believes it will be difficult to predict how teams will do this year because of the potential impact of second-year players around the league. “As far as my class goes, I think you will see a lot of guys step up a lot more because of the learning opportunity,” Bird said. “Guys actually understand where they are going and that allows everybody to play faster. I think you will see guys from our class make a lot more plays this year.”