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Derwin James Expects to Play Monday Against Colts


Below are three takeaways from safety Derwin James, Jr., wide receiver Keenan Allen, Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi and Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill from Friday's media sessions:

James on the mend & in holiday spirit

Derwin James, Jr. was in the holiday spirit Friday afternoon at Hoag Performance Center.

The Chargers safety gave all the defensive backs on the roster a choice of either a Rolex watch or a personalized chain with their number on it.

Some opted for the watch and other went for the chain. James also said he gave his coaches, including Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, a Rolex.

"Christmas love. Christmas spirit," James said. "One of the best holidays of the year, why not share it with your brothers?"

James was in a festive mood on the field, too, as he was a full participant in practice with a quad injury.

And when asked if he was playing Monday night against the Colts, the safety simply nodded his head yes.

James, who was named a Pro Bowl starter Wednesday, said he first dealt with the issue about a month ago.

"I was dealing with it before the Arizona game," James said. "Had a strain in my quad, kind of tight. I was trying to play through it and it got a little worse. Now it's better and I feel better."

Now, after two games away, he appears to be on track to return in Week 16.

"I'm feeling amazing. Feeling better," James said. "Took some time to get it healed and feeling better. A lot more confidence on it."

James' potential return should only help a defense that is playing their best ball of the season of late.

The Bolts defense has allowed 17 points or less in back-to-back weeks, and have also held their last two opponents under 300 total yards.

"It's going to be very big," James said of his possible return. "Those guys have been playing at a high level these last couple weeks. I've been just trying to be there to help, bring that energy and experience. Just help us get to where we want to go."

Check out the best photos of the Chargers Friday practice at Hoag Performance Center

Bolts defense hope to continue 3rd-down success

It's no secret the Bolts defense has been on fire recently.

Having limited two very capable offenses in back-to-back weeks, the performance over the last couple weeks has been something Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill hopes continues to progress.

"It definitely feels good, the way that we responded," Hill said. "We knew that we had some tough times early in the year. This is the time where we want to kind of start progressing. We want to be a playoff team and have that run going into it.

"We want to be playing our best ball at the end," Hill added. "I think that is what guys are seeing, that's what they are feeling, and that's what we want to keep progressing on throughout the rest of the season. Keep growing as a defense. By the end of this thing, hopefully, we like what we see."

While the points the Bolts defense have held the opponents are what stands out, an area of improvement that has gone under the radar has been their third-down defense.

Over the last three weeks, the Chargers have held their opponents to 9-of-32 on third-down opportunities, good for a 28.1-percent clip. The Raiders went 3-of-10, while the Dolphins and Titans were both 3-of-11 on third downs.

Getting off the field on defense has been just as important as anything else, as they are stalling the opponents drives and getting the ball back to the offense — one of the many areas that is coming to form for the defense.

"We are forming into a team that we like to see each and every Sunday and go out there," Hill said. "It has been great to see those guys operate on third down. In the last three weeks, we have been pretty much number one in that position in getting off the field. Trying to do our best to take away their premium guys at different spots.

"When you see those things come together at the end of the year, I think those are things that you know guys are buying into," Hill said. "They understand what the task is for the week and they are going out and executing and that is what we have kind of been seeing lately."

Offense looking to find 'rhythm' in 3rd quarter

It's been a while since the Chargers offense scored a touchdown in the third quarter — nine games to be exact.

Since Week 5 against the Browns, the Bolts have not been in the end zone coming out of the half. While there have been notable injuries to offensive weapons in that timespan, Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi says that it is a combination of many things that have created the shortcomings in the third.

"I think it's a combination of things," Lombardi said. "I think we got to come out with hopefully a little more energy and just get a better script together that maybe gets us in a rhythm earlier."

The Bolts came close last week, as they were driving the ball and inching closer to a score. But then came an interception that ended the drive and stopped the drive in its tracks.

Still, Lombardi believes that getting into more of a rhythm can help the Chargers offense finally break through into the third.

"Last week, we were driving and had that unfortunate interception," Lombardi said. "But overall as I look back at those games, I think I need to help the team get better rhythm with some of the play calls."

Finding a balance in terms of the opponent is key, as well as having patience in the process according to Lombardi.

"At times, you're looking for a big play — and maybe too aggressive at times, maybe not aggressive other times — so it's just finding that play script for your opponent to help get the guys in a rhythm," Lombardi said. "Definitely something that we're looking at and looking to fix."

Despite the offense not meeting their standards in the third quarter, they have continued to do score what's necessary for a win — like they did in Week 15 against the Titans.

Nonetheless, third quarter scoring continues to be an area that Lombardi and the team will continue to look for ways to get into the endzone, including possibly trying new things.

"I'll probably, maybe, get more specific — like you do at the beginning of the game — and maybe script them out a little more specifically, as far as the order that we are calling them," Lombardi said. "That will certainly help."

We can definitely get a little more specific with that, maybe help the guys visualize what we're going to do, and, maybe, we will be a little bit more precise when we go out and play," Lombardi later added.

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