It has been almost two months since the NFL draft; two months since safety Derwin James fell into the Chargers lap at pick number 17.
James has shown flashes during practice. On Wednesday morning during day two of minicamp Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers dropped back, threw it into the end zone and James came out of nowhere and intercepted the pass. His teammates came up and congratulated him.
There have also been signs of a kid still learning to play at the next level, like on Thursday when James looked back and saw his man get loose for a touchdown. James could only drop his head.
“For the most part he has had a strong spring,” said head coach Anthony Lynn. “We have put a lot on his plate. The situation we have put him in he has handled very well.”
James has been practicing with the starters, second and third units, but not because the Chargers feel he is a second string player, they just want to get him more reps. The former Florida State Seminole has been playing at free safety, strong safety, and a lot in the box.
“It wasn’t too much that I can’t handle,” James said. “I’m used to playing multiple positions, knowing what to do in different situations. It’s kind of the same here. They asked me to do more, and I can do it.”
When asked what position James looks the best at, Coach Lynn had some fun with it and said, “In a Chargers uniform.”
The rookie safety said he feels like he got better as time went on and being the good teammate he is said he feels great at any spot the Chargers coaches put him in, but in the NFL the game is about match ups.
“We’re just trying to get a feel for, ‘All right, what’s our best matchup?’” said defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. “‘What’s our best feel? How do we operate the best with guys at different positions?’ That might be a work in progress even in training camp.”
When James was drafted many analysts believed that James was the Kam Chancellor of Bradley’s defense, but Bradley said that they are totally different. Chancellor is a safety that plays like a linebacker at 232 pounds. Bradley said James is a lot more athletic and can make different kinds of plays. Bradley also said he can’t wait to see number 33 put on pads come training camp because he can’t wait to see James shine. Something the Chargers defense did not lack last season as they were sixth in the NFL with 27 takeaways.
The Chargers defense has a lot of talent with cornerback Casey Hayward, defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram now adding a playmaker like Derwin James is exciting for the coaching staff. During the draft the Chargers invested heavily on the defensive side of the ball.
“Every group, from the offense to the defense, special teams, I feel like we carry a lot of swag on this team and it’s big on this team and like I said this game is too hard not to have fun with it and we know we got each other’s back,” said James.
There is a real sense of comradery around this team is seen. At times quarterback Philip Rivers or other offensive players pointing out things to defensive players.
Because at the end of the day whether its defensive or offensive players they all have the same goal and that is to be at Disneyworld or land come next February.