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Chargers WR Quentin Johnston aims for turnaround after 'unacceptable' drops in rookie season

Los Angeles Chargers first-round receiver Quentin Johnston suffered through a dreadful rookie campaign. He's hell-bent on changing the narrative under the new regime.

Johnston caught 38 passes for 431 yards and two touchdowns in 2023. He got muscled off the spot far too often for a 6-foot-4, 215-pound wideout and suffered from a string of drops. Perhaps the most egregious flub came on a fourth-quarter third-down pass in Week 11 at Green Bay, which would have put L.A. in field-goal range for the potential tie.

"At the catch-point, taking my eyes off of it. I look it all the way in. I feel like it was a lack of focus all together," Johnston told reporters on Tuesday, via team transcript. "It was straight-up unacceptable. I always kind of go back to that moment when I step back out on practice or if I'm feeling a certain type of way at practice, I always go back to that. OK, if I take a day off here, it'll kind of correlate or wind down into a game like that, which, obviously, I do not want again."

The Chargers' new brass have made it clear that Johnston has a clean slate and have gone out of their way to praise the wideout's positive attributes.

"I wasn't coaching him. I wasn't here. I don't know the circumstances," wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal said on Tuesday, via team transcript. "To take a player back to that, especially if it's a negative, I don't see any purpose going forward."

Lal spent the past two seasons in Seattle and said he's putting Johnston through some of the same drills he used with DK Metcalf to help spur faster breaks in a route.

"He's got a lot of juice. He almost bounds when he runs," Lal said of Johnston. "Working on his body positioning is one of the biggest things that we've done. He's really improved some of his stop-type of routes, like keeping his shoulders over his feet longer and not looking early. That's a big jump he's made so far."

Johnston needs to continue to make a jump in 2024. Miscast as a true X receiver as a rookie in the previous offense, the hope is the new staff in L.A. gets the wideout more on the move and into space to make plays.

With Keenan Allen and Mike Williams gone, passes are up for grabs between Johnston, Josh Palmer, D.J. Chark and rookies Ladd McConkey and Brenden Rice.

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