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How Derwin James' Leadership Has Been on Full Display This Offseason

Derwin 06.12

It's Year 7 for Derwin James, Jr., who is feeling refreshed as ever in powder blues.

"It feels amazing. It feels like Christmas," James said Thursday. "I can't wait to play. I can't wait until September gets here."

As a team captain, James has been in the thick of things every day this offseason.

And it became very apparent to Chargers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh early on that James is simply a standout at, well, everything for the Bolts.

"One and a half practices in way back in April, it was clear to be like, 'Derwin James, Jr. Okay guys, do whatever Derwin James is doing,'" Harbaugh said about James on Thursday. "However he approaches the training environment, the way he approaches the meetings, the way he approaches the practices, what he wears, what he does, what he says, the way he goes from meeting to meeting, the way he communicates. Everything he does.

Harbaugh later added: "Just look at No. 3 and do everything that he is doing and it's going to be really good for you."

James had high praise of his own for his new head coach, especially when it came to Harbaugh's leadership style.

"Every day, I just try to be the example, set the standard, be here every day and be present, not just be here," James said. "Working hard and pushing guys.

"The relationship has been amazing. Every day he's been pushing us," James added. "He's the most powerful leader I've seen."

What makes Harbaugh's leadership different? James elaborated.

"I would say his voice, the way he gets the message across to the guys," James said. "Everyone follows behind him."

James later added: "Ever since he's been here, every day has been fun and it's been exciting to come to work with guys like that."

The Bolts safety has embraced the messaging from Harbaugh and the new staff so far and mentioned how much he's enjoyed not only having Harbaugh as a head coach, but also the defense he's been able to play under Defensive Coordinator Jesse Minter.

Minter spoke Wednesday about talking with James and getting him to "retake the claim" as one of the best safeties in the NFL.

James is right on board with him, as the relationship has continues to grow between the safety and the playcaller as they continue to build out the plan for him on defense.

"Just looking at who I am as a player, day in and day out, how he sees me in his scheme ... every day he just reminds me of who I am," James said about his early conversations with Minter. "Like I said, I just been getting better every day and he's a straightforward guy.

"Love going to work with him, and I can't wait to see what we do this year," James added. "I know it's going to be very exciting because he's a very confident guy, he trusts in his plan and he's well prepared."

Before the Chargers' team practice at Camp Pendleton, the team hosted a free clinic for children of military personnel. Chargers legend Corey Liuget was on hand as the event welcomed 150 boys and girls ages 5-14 and focused on teaching the fundamentals of flag football.

A lot has been said about this defense under Minter, including how it allows players to play a lot off of instincts and giving them leeway when they're on the field.

That's music to James' ears, as he thrives in those situations where he can react naturally.

"That's the type of player I am. I feel like I could read, react and I see it," James said. "Thinking less and not thinking as much, trusting what I see and going to go play."

James later added: "Every day I've been here working, grinding and like I said, I can't wait to play because I really believe it's going to be special."

The first major portion of the offseason is done with minicamp wrapping up Thursday.

Next up? Training camp in late July.

There's still a long way to go until the regular season comes in September but just like other players have stated, James is a big believer of this current team and what they can accomplish.

"Every year, you're going to feel like you're going to attack it, you're going to feel like you're the team to beat, you feel like you're going to win a Super Bowl," James said. "But this year, it just feels right. Coach Harbaugh getting the message across to everybody.

"The team feels his leading right behind him, he's leading the team and everyone is following his suit," James added. "It feels good and he's getting his every message that we need across to the team."

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