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    Thursday, July 18, 2024

    Jerry Rice's son, Chargers rookie Brenden Rice, feels as if he has plenty to prove

    Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Brenden Rice makes a catch during an NFL rookie minicamp football practice Friday, May 10, 2024, in Costa Mesa, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Costa Mesa, Calif. — Brenden Rice already had plenty to prove as the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.

    Not being selected until the 225th pick in the NFL draft two weeks ago added more fuel to the fire.

    Many thought Rice would be a middle-round pick. Instead, he didn’t go until the seventh round, when the Los Angeles Chargers selected the Southern California wide receiver.

    “My dad was hot,” Rice said about not going until late in the third day. “The first words he said was, ‘Time to go to work.’ He said, ‘I will be with you every step of the way.’ He said, ‘Now, I’m going to be involved in all of your workouts from now on, and we have a lot of people to prove wrong, a lot of teams that go ahead.’ It’s going to be one hell of a story.”

    Rice watched plenty of tape of his father while growing up, but he has a different body type.

    “I model my game after the bigger types of receivers — the (Raiders') Davante Adams, the (Titans') Calvin Ridleys more so, or even (Tampa Bay’s) Mike Evans,” Rice said. “Being able to go ahead and be physical at the top of the route, create separation, or go up and make a jump-ball play, those types of plays, and be consistent for my quarterback as well.”

    Instead of wallowing in what he described as a frustrating draft process, Rice is trying to look ahead. With the Chargers rebuilding at wide receiver, he will have plenty of opportunities to show he deserves a spot on the roster.

    “Everything’s upon me. If you guys don’t see me coming on this fall, that’s on me,” he said. “If you guys see me out there, then I put in the necessary work to put my best foot in the door and go out there and produce.”

    After transferring from Colorado, Rice showed during his two seasons at USC that he is a physical receiver and well developed as a route runner. He led the Trojans with 12 receiving touchdowns last season along with career highs in catches (45) and yards (791).

    Besides having Caleb Williams as his quarterback, Rice felt as if the transfer benefited his game in other areas as well.

    “I felt as though, when I went to USC, my IQ just happened to take another jump to another level,” he said. “With that, I was able to go ahead and find holes into defenses, read coverages, read shadow techniques, read the DBs and what they’re going to do, watch the film and know what I’m going to get from them, and what I’m going to see on game day.”

    Rice goes from Williams — whom Chicago selected with the first overall pick in the draft — to another top quarterback in Justin Herbert. Rice is expected to be a valuable option for Herbert when working the middle of the field, especially after Mike Williams was released and Keenan Allen was traded to the Bears.

    Rice was one of three receivers the Chargers drafted. Ladd McConkey was picked in the second round, and Cornelius Johnson also went in the seventh round.

    “Brenden has a lot of explosive plays down the field and long touchdown production — Arizona State, UCLA, Stanford, these games. He can stretch the field vertically,” Chargers assistant general manager Chad Alexander said. “He does a lot of things that you really, really like. He blocks and does a really good job.”

    Rice and the rest of the Chargers' draft class and undrafted free agents are getting up to speed during this weekend’s rookie minicamp. Coach Jim Harbaugh lauded the entire rookie class after Friday’s practice for its preparation. Harbaugh also realizes there is little time, especially with on-field activities with the whole team starting in a couple of weeks.

    “Think of it this way — we have the veterans who have been going for about five weeks now. Thinking this is my job,” Harbaugh said. “We have rookies that are coming on. They’re coming onto the (Interstate) 405. That traffic is moving fast. Here come these new players (this weekend) to get them to understand the system, to learn the plays so that they won’t slow down the veterans when they merge on Monday.”

    Los Angeles Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh, right, talks with quarterback Casey Bauman during an NFL rookie minicamp football practice Friday, May 10, 2024, in Costa Mesa, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
    FILE - Jerry Rice gestures before an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Chargers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. Brenden Rice, a wide received like his Hall of Fame dad, caught passes from projected No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams at USC, is viewed as a mid-rounder in the NFL Draft.(AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez, File)

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