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With Week 1 Approaching, Chargers to Rely on Secondary Depth 


Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said Monday that it's too early to provide an extensive update on safety Derwin James, who suffered a right knee injury in Sunday's practice.

According to a team statement, the third-year All-Pro safety will continue to be evaluated and a timetable has not yet been determined for his return to the field. Should James miss time during the regular season – which kicks off for Los Angeles on September 13 – there are a few different candidates to replace him that Lynn said they'll look at this week.

"I like the depth that we have in our secondary," he said. "So, we have to make some different combinations, but we have some good players in the secondary."

Lynn pointed to a pair of defensive backs whom the Chargers drafted in 2017. Safety Rayshawn Jenkins played strong before moving to the team's full-time free safety in 2019. Defensive back Desmond King has also been getting reps at strong safety, according to Lynn.

"I've never considered Desmond a corner," Lynn said. "He's always been a nickel guy and pretty much a safety for us."

King was a 2018 First-Team All-Pro at defensive back. In 47 games with the Chargers, he has 189 total tackles, 6.5 sacks and four interceptions – two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Jenkins started all 16 games and played 99 percent of the defensive snaps in 2019. He also led the team in interceptions last season with three.

The Chargers drafted Notre Dame safety Alohi Gilman in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. After Monday's practice, the rookie said it's been "a learning process" throughout training camp.

If called upon, though, Gilman will be ready to step in for James, whom he called "one of the best athletes I've been around."

"This is a great opportunity for me to step in a role where I can play a little more early on in my career," Gilman said. "I've got a lot of room to grow, a lot of [things] to work at, but that's a day-by-day process and when my number's called I'll be ready for sure."

Check out some photos from Sunday, August 30th's Blue & White scrimmage at Chargers Training Camp 2020, presented by SoFi.

Then there's last year's second-round selection Nasir Adderley, who missed a majority of the 2019 season with a hamstring injury. Now healthy, Adderley has been practicing at multiple spots.

"He's been playing free safety," Lynn said. "He's been playing nickel. He's [played] a little bit in our dime package. He's a versatile athlete. He can do a lot of things. I like his range, and we'll see. We'll see if he's gonna be tested here real soon."

Last Wednesday, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said he's seen improved focus and confidence from Adderley, noting that the flashes he showed in the 2019 preseason finale have transferred over consistently during this training camp.

Much will need to be decided with 13 days until Cincinnati. The Chargers need to get their roster down from 80 to 53 by this Saturday at 1 p.m. Pacific. Game planning for the Bengals will be the primary focus shortly after.

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