Head Coach Mike McCoy made it crystal clear when addressing the team regarding Joey Bosa's absence.
Someone has to take advantage of the additional reps now that they're for the taking.
"We are going to have that next man up mentality here," Head Coach Mike McCoy said. "You've got to keep on rolling. It's an opportunity for somebody to step up. I talked to the team the other day when they all reported about it. Joey is not here, but we are going to go out there every day and work extremely hard. Somebody has got to step into his spot and make the most of it. And with 90 guys, we are going to have to trim the roster at some point so you have got to make the most of every single opportunity because when he gets back, someone's reps are going to get cut back. It is an important couple of days for some younger players to step in and do their job."
That player on Saturday was Darius Philon, who lined up as the team's starting defensive end next to Corey Liuget and Brandon Mebane. It was only one practice, but last year's sixth rounder picked up where he left off after an impressive offseason.
"(I'm) very pleased with the way he has worked," McCoy said. "We really liked him last year. Unfortunately he had a very unique injury you don't see very often last year. After he had his little surgery last year he said, 'I'm ready to go' and I looked at him and kind of smiled and said, 'C'mon, you can't play with what you got right now.' As soon as he came out on the first day of practice, he said he's ready to go…That's always been his mentality and attitude. He had a nice offseason for us and we are really pleased with him."
Philon's rookie year experience enhanced his drive to seize every moment. He appeared prime to be a major contributor after a preseason in which he tallied seven tackles and one sack in limited action. However, a freak hip injury suffered in practice sidelined him all the way until December as the team placed him on Reserved-Injured; Designated to Return.
As a result, he's determined to take advantage of the increased playing time.
"I embrace every moment like it's my last," he said. "Out there with the starters, I play like every rep is my last. I have a chance to go out there and work with the ones, so I've got to get better. That's good for me, but at the same time, I look forward to helping the team out in any way possible. I can only focus on what I need to do and how I go about business for myself. I can't worry about what is going on around me. My number one goal is being consistent on and off the field. A lot of these reps with the ones help."