After an impressive rookie season where he finished second on the team with 73 tackles, Denzel Perryman added a much-needed spark to the defense when he was named a starter in week six against the Packers. Entering his second season, Perryman is touted as one of the top young defenders in the NFL to keep an eye on. With the Chargers participating in their OTAs (Organized Team Activities), MP reporter Art Garcia Jr. caught up with Perryman to ask him a few questions following a recent practice.
Art Garcia Jr.: So this is your second year practicing in the OTAs, what is the biggest difference between your rookie year and this year?
Denzel Perryman: I kind of have more of a feeling of what’s going on and I have more knowledge of the playbook. We’re getting back into football even though over the off-season there’s no chance of getting away from football. So coming back in it’s more getting into the Chargers playbook and stuff like that. Another big difference is there are a lot of new faces in the building — I mean we’re all out there working just like last year. We are working and competing as a team and you can see it’s a lot more competitive out here every day — you can see (that) we’re really going at it.
AG: As a rookie last year, how big of a challenge was it to learn the playbook?
DP: It wasn’t that big of a challenge. I felt the biggest challenge was getting the Chargers terminology down pat. The defense that we ran down in Miami was similar to the one we run here and things were the same only the names were different — so I sometimes confused our plays down in Miami with their plays up here. But now I have a good understanding, not saying that I’m a master of the playbook because I’m still learning every day, but I got it down now.
AG: What were goals coming in as a rookie last year?
DP: My goals were to get in here, get the terminology down and do what I can to become a starter.
AG: You made a pretty big impact as a rookie, how long were you here before you realized you could start for this team?
DP: I would say after a couple of games. I mean in preseason you’re playing against veteran guys but you’re really not playing against veteran guys. So during the season it was against the Packers, where I had my very first start. I’m playing against Aaron Rogers and all these great Pro Bowl guys and I was like, “I can do this.”
AG: Describe what it was like walking into Lambau Field not only for the first time, but as a starter no less?
DP: I remember it like it was just yesterday. I remember getting in there — and I usually warm up before the game — but I started talking to a former teammate at Miami. He’s a cornerback (for the Packers) and we sat there and just talked about how crazy it was to be in the NFL, how we talked about this in college, what’s it like over here and what’s it like over there. For me, during the opening kickoff I’m just looking around at all the Packers fans and the stadium just reminded me of college — it reminded me of a college atmosphere. I was pretty confident but at the same time, it was my first game starting.
AG: Speaking of that, how nervous were you making your first start against an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team?
DP: No I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t nervous at all. After that first play, whatever jitters you have they come out and you kind of go “it’s time to play ball now.”
AG: Many rookies say the speed of the game is the biggest issue for them, did the speed at this level effect you at all?
DP: Yeah it is a little faster but I would say the biggest difference between college and the NFL is with these guys it’s all mental. Everybody is a great athlete (at this level) but it’s literally all mental. There’s a lot of information you get on the daily and you just have to contain that information.
AG: Describe the feeling you had when you opened up the envelope and saw your first NFL paycheck with the name Denzel Perryman on it?
DP: It felt good, it felt real good but when I looked at it I felt like they taxed me a little bit too much though. But it felt good because of all the hard work you put in from the time you start playing football to all the sacrifices you put in and now it’s right here.
The Endzone: By signing wide receiver Keenan Allen to a reported four-year contract worth more than $11 million per season (San Diego Union Tribune), the Chargers put Allen along side of some elite company. According to overthecap.com, Allen is now on par with former Chargers’ wide receiver Vincent Jackson at No. 7 for the highest-paid receivers in the NFL. The Bengals’ A.J. Green tops the list, followed by Alshon Jeffery (Bears), Julio Jones (Falcons), Demaryius Thomas (Broncos), Dez Bryant (Cowboys) and T.Y. Hilton (Colts).
How much of a difference did Allen make last season for quarterback Philip Rivers and the offense? The Union-Tribune points out that with Allen in the lineup, the Chargers were the No. 1 offense in yards per game. Without Allen, they dropped to 24.