The Chargers bye week has come and gone. They sit at 4-7 with a very slight chance of making the playoffs, but there is a chance. On Monday, during the open portion of practice to the media numbers 33 and 31 where out on the field practicing.
“It felt good being back out there,” said James.
On Monday, the Chargers officially put Derwin James on the designated to return list, which means the team has 21-days to activate him to the 53-man roster or he goes on to IR permanently. It is still up in the air if James will suit up this Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
“At his position, you like to see a change of direction, quickness bursts, things like that,” explained head coach Anthony Lynn on what he needs to see from the safety in order to play.
James had surgery on the stress-fracture in his foot and was projected to miss three to four months. The team was always going to be cautious with him because they didn’t want him to rush back and risk him further injuring himself.
“It’s been hard because I have been feeling good a couple of weeks now,” explained James. “To finally get the yes was amazing. I got to take it day by day.”
The defense has been able to hold their own since the Florida State product has been out, but at times he has been missed. During week three of the season, the Bolts faced the Houston Texans. Tight ends Jordan Akins and Darren Fells had a combined eight catches for 122 yards and scored three touchdowns. James’ presence could have turned that loss into a win.
“I wanted to be out there to help my team win,” said James. “We have been losing a lot of close games. One point. One yard. Just to be out there feels good.”
When James went down with the foot injury the team called up another All-Pro player in safety Adrian Phillips to start in place of James. During the teams week two matchup against the Detroit Lions, Phillips went down with a broken forearm.
Phillips also practiced on Monday. Lynn said that Phillips practiced all week leading up to the game in Mexico City against the Kansas City Chiefs, but that he looks more ready this week to make his season debut.
“It has been a long 10 weeks,” explained Phillips. “Just to have the opportunity to be back on the field with my boys. Being able to practice and having an opportunity to play it means everything. That is what I have been working towards.”
Defensive coaches decided to start undrafted rookie Roderic Teamer and six-year veteran Jaylen Watkins during the absence of both safeties. Both did a serviceable job.
During the 10 weeks that Phillips was out along with James both pushed each other to come back. James said that before the game in Mexico, both he and Phillips were pushing each other pre-game running and doing various exercises.
“We push each other every day,” explained Phillips. ”We always competed against each other and that is how our DB (defensive back) room is as a whole. Under the circumstances, it was the best thing to go under that process with him.”
James hasn’t played an NFL game since the disappointing loss to the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the 2019 playoffs. He hadn’t practiced since August 15th during a joint practice against the New Orleans Saints.
“It is very difficult mentally,” explained James, “because you want to be out there. You want to be playing. I love this game. Anybody who loves the game of football will want to be out there. To be out there I am fortunate and happy.”
It is more than likely Phillips will play this Sunday against the Broncos. Lynn said they would evaluate James to see how he is doing on Friday. James already has a response ready for Lynn when he comes up to him on Friday to ask him if he is ready to go.
“Hell yeah!” exclaimed the safety.
Nuts N’ Bolts
The Chargers got healthy during the bye week with Russell Okung (groin), Sam Tevi (knee), running back Justin Jackson (calf) and receiver Geremy Davis (hamstring) all returned to practice.