Justin Herbert’s first season with the Los Angeles Chargers was full of valuable NFL lessons.
In only his second game as a pro, the former Oregon standout was thrusted into spotlight vs. the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs after a Chargers doctor accidentally punctured starting QB Tyrod Taylor’s lung.
Herbert found out he was starting in his first NFL game less than 60 seconds before kickoff. It was in that game where Eugene native proved he was as tough as nails.
When asked on the Dan Patrick Show Friday about the hit he’ll remember most from his rookie season, Herbert recounted a moment in his NFL debut where Chiefs defender Damien Wilson chased him down and tried to lay a big hit on the rookie QB.
Instead, Herbert knocked Wilson out in the process.
“I think it was on the sideline vs. the Chiefs,” Herbert recounted. “I was running out of bounds and I tried to get the first down and I stayed in-bounds and I just collided with a linebacker. We both fell on the ground. That’s one of those hits that you know you probably shouldn’t do again. I learned from that one. I was getting yelled at all year about that.”
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Herbert wouldn’t officially be named the Chargers’ main man under center until Week 5. By then, the 22-year-old had overcome one of his biggest challenges as a pro, getting acclimated to the full speed of an NFL game.
“I kind of expected that coming into this level, but you really have to play through it to understand how fast it really is,” Herbert explained. “You know, I could hear, ‘Oh, Justin… it’s going to be so much faster— this and that. But when you step out there and realize it’s a lot faster.”
While Herbert undeniably had some hurdles to overcome in his inaugural season, to onlookers, his transition from sixth-overall pick to starting QB appeared seamless. The Chargers superstar etched his name in the NFL record books after breaking the NFL rookie passing record for most passing yards (4,336), most passing touchdowns (31) and most completions (396).
Herbert finished the season sixth in passing yards, 10th in touchdown passes, 12th with a passer rating of 98.3 and had just 10 interceptions.
As Los Angeles looks to build off that remarkable season from their Offensive Rookie of the Year frontrunner, it’ll also look to Herbert and the offense to put plenty of points on the board in 2021.