COSTA MESA, Calif. — Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James talked to reporters on Thursday for the first time since suffering a stress fracture in his right foot that required surgery during training camp last month.
James, who’s in a walking boot, said the plan remains for him to return this season once he’s healthy.
“For sure, that’s the goal,” James said. “I’m just going to continue to work hard every day.”
James suffered a Jones stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot during a joint practice against the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 15. James said he suffered the injury during the middle of the practice session.
“I kind of knew it when I threw the ball in the air after the interception,” James said about the injury. “When I was going to run down there and take a picture after the interception, I knew at that moment, ‘Yeah, it kind of feels like it did in college.'”
The injury was a refracture of an initial stress fracture he suffered heading into his sophomore season at Florida State.
Foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson performed surgery to repair the issue on Aug. 22 in Green Bay.
James’ foot is in a walking boot for now as he begins to rehabilitate from the injury.
The Chargers placed James on injured reserve to start the season, which means he must miss at least the first eight games of the year.
“He broke down the defense today before we came in,” Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said about James, who will continue to rehab at the team’s facility. “We want to make sure he’s very engaged, he’s in the meetings and stays up on things. And he’s done a good job with that.
“It’s tough for him to stand on the sidelines and watch. He said that was one of the toughest things he had to go through, but he’s very engaged, and I know the team appreciates him being around.”
James said it helps because he has been through the rehab process for the injury before.
“It’s very disappointing because I wanted to be out there as much as I can, especially with the momentum that I had coming into the season,” James said. “It kind of sucks, but it’s part of ball.”
Adrian Phillips started at strong safety in place of James in the Chargers’ season-opening overtime win over the Indianapolis Colts last week, totaling six combined tackles, including a tackle for loss.
“We did some different things defensively, positioning guys to see what’s best for us,” Bradley said about his defense without James. “Hopefully, we can come up with a personality and say, ‘This is who we are on defense.’ So I thought [Phillips] handled it pretty well.”
Selected No. 17 overall in the 2018 draft, the Florida State product played in all 16 games last season.
James led the Chargers in tackles (105) in 2018, also posting 3.5 sacks, three interceptions and 15 pass break-ups, earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors as a rookie.