For almost all of training camp and through the first four weeks of the 2016 NFL season, Joey Bosa was a ghost. After being drafted No. 3 overall by the San Diego Chargers, Bosa and his future franchise engaged in a fairly public contract battle, which wasn’t resolved until Aug. 30, just before the Chargers’ final pre-season game, when Bosa finally put ink on a four-year, $26 million deal. After suffering a hamstring injury that kept him out for four games, Bosa finally made his debut in Week 5 against the Oakland Raiders, and he promptly sacked quarterback Derek Carr. Twice.
Through five games, Bosa has registered four sacks to go along with 11 tackles, while playing about half as many snaps as he was asked to at Ohio State. STACK caught up with Bosa to find out how he stayed in shape during his holdout, how staying fresh helped him get off to a fast start, and why he can’t wait to sack Tom Brady.
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STACK: You missed a lot of time during training camp. How were you able to keep yourself in shape while you were away from the team?
Joey Bosa: There’s nothing like playing football to try and stay in shape. I think I did a really good job for what I was presented with. I was training for three to four hours a day, getting treatment the rest of the day. I was pretty much done by 3 or 4 p.m. every day, six days a week, trying to stay in shape. But it’s tough getting in football shape.
What type of stuff were you doing?
I was running and lifting, focusing on nutrition and supplementing the right way. Being a partner with Met RX makes things easier, so nutritionally I was always covered with that. So just making sure you’re putting the right things in your body and doing the right things physically.
Did you feel gassed that first week you were back at camp?
The week I got back there, I was doing some extra work, trying to get some extra running in before that first week of practice. Unfortunately, I hurt my hamstring and missed those weeks, but, honestly, those four weeks were really beneficial for me to get back into good shape and get ready to play.
You got your first sack in your very first game. What was that like?
In the moment, you’re obviously excited, but it was a two-minute situation [for the Raiders] so the offense was really rushing, so there was no time for celebration or anything. After the game, I mean of course I was beyond happy that I could come out and play well in my first game.
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Did you say anything to Derek Carr after you took him down? Talk any smack?
Honestly, I really never say much out there. I try to approach it professionally. I try to pick my spots, at least, with the talking.
You’ve gotten off to a quick start in your first five games. What’s been the most difficult thing about the transition to the NFL?
There’s a lot of time involved. In college, it was pretty much a full-time job, but now it really is a full-time job. You’re up bright and early doing the right things to take care of your body. The time involved to be successful in this game is the biggest difference.
How different is Chargers’ defensive playbook from what you were used to at Ohio State?
It’s pretty significantly different in terms of the terminology. But honestly, as a D-lineman, it’s never too complicated. Of course it’s important to get in your playbook and study, and at first it was definitely a little different to pick up on, but it really hasn’t been too much of a problem.
You’ve been playing almost half the number of snaps you played at Ohio State. Has that helped keep you fresh?
Yeah. I think the coaches understand that you’re not going to be able to go 100 percent if you’re playing 70 to 80 snaps a game. They do a really great job of rotating guys. It’s been nice. In college, there’s definitely more plays in the college games. It’s rough having to be in the entire game. Coach definitely does a good job of keeping us fresh because he knows we’ll be successful when we are.
What’s the goal for the rest of the season, in terms of your play?
I don’t have any numbers or long-terms goals in my mind. My goal is every week to get better. I’m really trying not to look too far into the future. I look one week at a time, look at one thing every single week to try and get better at.
Who are you most hyped to sack?
We don’t play the Patriots, but I think sacking Tom Brady would be pretty fun.
And finally, the most important question: any plans on letting your hair grow back out?
[Laughing] I don’t know. I know I need a haircut right now, though.