As a rookie in 2018, Florida State Seminoles standout and No. 17-overall Draft pick Derwin James took the Los Angeles Chargers’ defense to another level on his way to both Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors. But sadly, disaster has now struck both the Bolts and one of the single best young safeties in professional football.
On Friday, the Chargers announced that Derwin James suffered a foot injury during Thursday’s joint practices between the Chargers and New Orleans Saints, which has been diagnosed as a stress fracture of his fifth metatarsal (the bone to the outside of midfoot at the base of the small toe) in his right foot. James is expected to be out for a “significant” amount of time, and there is no timetable for his return.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 16, 2019
James was spotted with a walking boot during Friday’s practice, and Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn addressed the media concerning the injury just afterwards.
“This could have been something all along, just happened kind of slowly,” said Lynn, per Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times. “And yesterday it just came to a head.”
Though Lynn stated that he expects James to play in 2019, he cannot say for certain that will be the case, and also did not rule out placing him on Injured Reserve.
James’ injury continues a troubling trend of star players for the Chargers, who finished the 2018 season in a tiebreaker for the AFC West title before winning their Wild Card Playoff game, being sidelined. Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung has been sidelined since June due to a pulmonary embolism, while Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen recently suffered an ankle injury that will likely keep him out the rest of the preseason. Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon, meanwhile, is staging a holdout and is reportedly prepared to sit out the 2019 season if he and the Chargers cannot agree on a new contract.
A large part of the Chargers’ success in 2018 and run to a 12-4 record had been their defense, which James helped become the eighth best in the National Football League. After becoming a First-Team All-ACC selection with the Seminoles, James burst onto the professional scene with 105 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 13 passes defensed, and three interceptions in his rookie year. James was named a Pro Bowler, a First-Team All-Pro, and to the PFWA All-Rookie Team.
With James now out indefinitely, the Chargers will likely turn to Adrian Phillips at the strong safety position. Phillips, a former undrafted free agent who has been with the Chargers since 2014, was named a Pro Bowler and First-Team All-Pro as a special teamer last season.