Nate Gilliam and Gabe Nabers had an awkward situation when Justin Herbert asked what they planned to do for housing during their rookie season with the Chargers.
Gilliam and Nabers already had plans to live together. They didn’t expect the prized first-round rookie quarterback to be interested in being anyone’s roommate.
“I think we found a place,” Gilliam recalled telling Herbert when he revealed his plans with Nabers.
Herbert’s response, according to Gilliam: “Oh, so you don’t want to live with me?”
Gilliam and Nabers didn’t mind making room for one more because they had become close with Herbert during training camp. They played video games, board games and ate together while staying at the team hotel.
“We didn’t know that was an option,” Gilliam, an offensive lineman on the Chargers’ practice squad, said about living with Herbert. “We just didn’t know that was actually going to come together. I think we went to dinner and we talked it over then.”
The three rookies moved into a place near the team’s facility in Costa Mesa and added to their teammate bonding activities by hosting a feast on the days following wins last season. The roommates cooked a “victory brisket” for the main course.
“He won’t take credit for it, but he’s like the head of the operation when it comes to cooking the meat,” Nabers, a fullback, said of Herbert. “I’m like the sous chef and sides guy. I’m the ultimate sides guy.”
The college-like atmosphere helped Herbert stay centered while dealing with the rigorous demands of being a starting quarterback in the NFL. But Gilliam and Nabers quickly learned that any roommate activities needed to be planned for early in the week.
The closer it got to game days, the more time Herbert spent in his downstairs office analyzing film and preparing for that week’s opponent.
“We’d get home and he’d be in his own zone,” Nabers said. “Me and Nate would have our own things that we do and I’d be in my room watching film. … But Justin would always be downstairs in his office watching film.”
Occasionally, Gilliam knocked on Herbert’s door and asked if he could pick his brain on what he’s seeing on film.
“With that guy, you have to give him space,” Gilliam said. “Let him focus. Let him do his own thing. You can chime in. He’s not going to be standoffish. … But with those kinds of people, I feel like they just see it quicker than others in the sense that they see the big picture.
“For him, he sees the coverages. He sees certain things a different way. … He just picked it up a little bit quicker than the normal person.”
That meticulous preparation is why Herbert had instant success when he was thrust into the starter’s role in Week 2 last season without getting any first-team snaps in training camp. His ability to quickly process how defenses are attacking him helped him sustain that success and deliver a record-setting rookie season.
But Herbert, 23, is starting from scratch for his second season …read more
Source:: Los Angeles Daily News
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