GM Tom Telesco: Chargers willing to appear on 'Hard Knocks'

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Usually sheepish about putting his team under the microscope, Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said he would be willing to do the HBO show "Hard Knocks" if asked.

For the second time in three years, the Chargers are one of the teams eligible for the weekly show. The Chargers have never been on the show since its inception in 2001.

Teams that have already been on "Hard Knocks" include the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets.

Teams can avoid mandatory inclusion in the documentary series if they fall under any of these three exemptions: 1) They have a first-year head coach in place; 2) They reached the postseason in the past two seasons; 3) They appeared on the series in the past 10 years.

The Chargers are one of six teams eligible for the program this year. The others are the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Ravens and Washington Redskins.

"We have a really good relationship with NFL Films and Ross Ketover and his staff, they do really excellent work," Telesco said. "And that show is really good because they give great access.

"Am I comfortable asking our players and coaches to work every day with microphones and cameras on them? Not entirely; I just think that people work differently when you're under the microscope like that being filmed. But that all being said, there's some benefits beyond football to being on that show, and we're pretty adaptable people here. If it so happens that we do it, then we'll make it work and we'll adapt to it. We shall see."

So you're saying there's a chance?

"I gave my answer," said Telesco, smiling.

The possibility of doing "Hard Knocks" was among a wide range of subjects Telesco addressed during a nearly half-hour conversation with reporters Thursday at the Hoag Performance Center.

Telesco said the plan for now is to retain all three coordinators in offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and special teams coordinator George Stewart.

On whether the Chargers will bring back tight end Antonio Gates, Telesco said the organization would take a wait-and-see approach.

Telesco credited Gates for how well he handled taking on a reduced role in the offense. And like the player himself, Telesco believes Gates can still play.

"We'll probably let some time go a little bit now after the season's over," Telesco said. "And then sit down with Antonio and just kind of talk with him, see what his thoughts are and what he's thinking, see what our thoughts are and what we're thinking. I don't have answer for that right now."

Telesco took the blame for the Chargers' struggles at kicker this season. The Bolts used five kickers in 2017 and finished at a league-low 68 percent on field goal attempts.

"One of my biggest regrets this year [is] I did not do a good-enough job addressing that position," Telesco said. "I kind of put our head coach, Anthony [Lynn], in a tough position as far as managing the football game. So, it happens. I'm not really happy about it. We'll assess where we were and we'll get it fixed."

Telesco said it's possible the Chargers bring back veteran Nick Novak and let punter Drew Kaser handle kickoffs.

The general manager said he was pleased with how for the most part the Chargers stayed healthier this season. He pointed to changes made in the approach to taking better care of players -- including new conditioning and flexibility coaches, a different offseason program focused on endurance training, new facilities in Costa Mesa, and a different practice schedule during the season focused on recovery.

"We implemented a lot of different things," Telesco said. "We had some guys go down, which is going to happen, but all in all I thought we were a pretty healthy football team this year going into the end, which is another reason why it would have been nice to get in the playoffs and give us a chance."