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Chargers embracing head coach Jim Harbaugh's 'powerful' leadership

As mandatory minicamp came to a close this week in Southern California, the Chargers sounded juiced for a brand new era -- on the field and off it.

The Bolts had their final practice at their Costa Mesa facility on Thursday, marking the end of their seven-year transition period from San Diego to Los Angeles. When training camp begins in July, they'll be sweating in a state-of-the-art headquarters nicknamed "The Bolt," a few miles up north in El Segundo.

That change in scenery jives with the new outlook first-year coach Jim Harbaugh has brought to the team during its offseason program, an energy that has been felt and internalized by the most senior of Chargers leaders.

"He's a competitor," fifth-year quarterback Justin Herbert said Thursday of Harbaugh. "He's done such a great job taking this team and getting them where he wants them to go. He's won wherever he's at. He's a guy that everyone wants to follow and play for. So we're really excited to get to play for him."

Seventh-year safety Derwin James called the former Michigan coach "the most powerful leader" he's ever seen.

"He just loves football a lot," James added. "When he walks in the room, he lights up the room. Everybody, it's full attention. It doesn't matter what you're doing, what you've been through ... he gets your attention, and it means something to him."

Herbert and James both noted that Harbaugh getting physically involved in the team's offseason workouts, even pulling sleds along with his players, is an example of the spark he's brought to the Bolts.

"It's a cool experience to be able to share that with your head coach," Herbert said. "Whether we're pulling sleds, he expects to be the fastest or to pull the furthest, and when we're carrying those med balls, he's wanting to go the furthest, he wants to go the fastest."

Harbaugh reciprocated the praise from his vets, noting that his work ethic is reinforced by their own.

"What I've noticed about this team … when I say, 'OK, we're stopping early,' or we're cutting 30 minutes out of this practice or this weight session, then I just watch them do more," Harbaugh explained to reporters on Thursday. "They do more than they would've had I scheduled it out, player-led. … It becomes like a beaver dam of activity.

"It just hits me: They get as much or more or better work that way."

Harbaugh arrived in Los Angeles this winter fresh off a historic title-winning season with the Wolverines, a program he helped turn into consistent victors in his nine years there. L.A.'s veterans, who've long suffered shortcomings after high expectations, hope that Harbaugh's pedigree as a winner, motivator and team makeover artist can propel them, finally, to glory.

"It only helps when you have a building like that," Herbert said of Harbaugh's winning mindset, "of just people that believe in each other, in what our vision is, what our program is. I think that's only going to help."

James added that, as the Chargers adapt to their change in leadership and location, Harbaugh is delivering a message to players that they've needed to hear.

"Every year, you're gonna feel like you're gonna attack it, you feel like you're the team to beat, feel like you're gonna win the Super Bowl," James added. "But this year, it just feels right."

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