June 21, 2024

The expanding list of first impressions made by Jim Harbaugh on the Chargers grew by one Monday — a rather hilarious one.

“I don’t want to get in trouble for this, but he reminds me of Will Ferrell,” linebacker Denzel Perryman said. “The way that he talks, his analogies and everything. They really remind me of Will Ferrell.

“It’s funny to me. I know that he means well and everything’s coming from the heart, but I feel like you gotta have a sense of humor to understand some of his lines and gimmicks.”

Perryman had no history with Harbaugh before returning to the team that signed him in March as a free agent. About eight weeks earlier, the Chargers had hired Harbaugh as head coach.

Now the two are trying to rally the team back from a 5-12 finish, Perryman one of options to man the middle of a defense being revamped in the image of what Harbaugh ran at Michigan.

“I love him as a coach,” Perryman said. “I love the direction that he’s got us going in. He played the game. He played here. He understands.”

As the Chargers continued their offseason program in Costa Mesa, their defense looked as complete as it has since the middle of 2023. That’s because edge rushers Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa both were present.

The two multiple-Pro Bowlers joined their teammates on the field for the first time this offseason during the portion of practices open to the media. Both restructured their deals in March to remain with the team.

Now, Perryman is back, too, after spending two seasons with Las Vegas and one with Houston. The Chargers drafted Perryman in the second round in 2015, and he emerged as a hard hitter during his first six NFL seasons.

“Feels good to be back, back where it all started,” Perryman said. “Feels like I’m back home.”

Michigan linebacker Junior Colson (25) leaves the field after a game against Rutgers .

Rookie linebacker Junior Colson has impressed the Chargers with his understanding of the defense, the same scheme played at Michigan.

(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

He is the learned presence at a position where the Chargers also feature a pair of risers in second-year pro Daiyan Henley and rookie Junior Colson, along with veterans Nick Niemann and Troy Dye.

Perryman and Henley took the first snaps during 11-on-11 drills Monday, after Colson left the workout early — walking off the field with trainers — and did not return.

Having played for Harbaugh in college, Colson is familiar with the scheme being implemented by first-year coordinator Jesse Minter, who also came from Michigan.

That experience, plus Colson’s sideline-to-sideline play-making and overall on-field command, have boosted his projections since the Chargers drafted him in the third round last month.

“We’re in meetings, and he’s answering every single question,” linebacker coach NaVorro Bowman said. “He’s there to settle them [fellow linebackers] down and really just say, ‘Hey, coach is talking fast, but it’s just this.’ ”

As for Colson’s development, Bowman said he “just needs to learn how to be a pro. I think that’s where I come in.”

An eight-year veteran, Bowman began his career with San Francisco, where he played for Harbaugh from 2011-14. He was named a first-team All-Pro four times and led the NFL in tackles in 2015.

Bowman said his tutelage of Colson will include everything from when to take chances on the field to how to care for his body off it. In watching Colson play at Michigan, Bowman said he “saw a leader.”

He also said Perryman will provide an example for the Chargers’ young linebackers.

“He’s a 10-year vet,” Bowman said. “He’s doing the things that a lot of 10-year guys I played with wouldn’t do. He’s approaching it the right way.”

One change for Perryman in his Chargers return will be his jersey number. He will wear No. 6, which he had last season with the Texans. During his first stint with the Chargers, Perryman was No. 52. That now belongs to Mack.

“Honestly, I wasn’t paying Khalil Mack millions of dollars for No. 52,” Perryman said, laughing. “I was like, ‘Yeah, he can have it.’ Six was available, so I just started rocking with it again.”

Known for his light and engaging personality, Perryman was in midseason form during his first session with reporters, the highlight being his comparison of Harbaugh to a comedian known for his often goofy characters.

Perryman was asked if he’s mentioned the Will Ferrell observation to his new head coach.

“Not yet,” he said. “But I’m pretty sure he’ll hear this and talk to me about it tomorrow.”

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