Jahleel Addae hadn't seen the field since September 28.
One of San Diego's hardest hitters, the safety had a tangible impact in what was one of the team's most dominating defensive performances on Sunday. It had been a long time coming for Addae, who injured his clavicle late in Week 2's win over the Jaguars.
"It's been tough," the safety admitted. "I'm the type of guy that plays with energy. I love the game, I love my teammates and the only thing I could do was be a third coach in the secondary. Let the guys know what I'm seeing, pointing out tips and pointers. Being out there today, it's a blessing and I thank God for allowing me to get back from the injury that I had and being able to contribute to a win."
Addae was up to his usual tricks, ranking second on the team with 10 tackles. He showcased his trademark bone-rattling hits in run support, and also helped keep C.J. Fiedorowicz out of the end zone by rallying to the tight end.
"Being back out there meant everything," he continued. "I just want to thank God for getting me through the situation. It was tough on me mentally and physically not being out there with my teammates. Being able to be out there and play the game with passion and energy and not second-guessing the injury on my shoulder and just playing free, the way I play and contributing on a win. It feels awesome."
Equally important, Addae's teammates fed off his energy and passion. While talking about how hard it was to see the safety miss an extended period of time, Head Coach Mike McCoy pointed out the enthusiasm "The Hitman" brings to the Bolts. It's that type of infectious personality that makes Addae one of the most popular Chargers, and the way he celebrates himself and his teammates is contagious.
"Unfortunately, in the Jacksonville game Jahleel went down. He's one of those players that just shows up every day, doesn't matter what day of the year it is (and) he works his tail off. When you do it the right way, good things are going to happen. Unfortunately, he had the injury in Week 2, and I just kept on telling him as he started getting closer a couple of weeks out, 'Just remember this, buddy, you're one day closer. I can't wait for you to get out here. I love you, buddy. I want you on the field with us, but you've just got to keep on going. Things happen for a reason, and you've just got to keep on fighting.' It's great to get his fire and passion for the game back out on the back end for us."
"Having him out there was a big difference," added Dwight Lowery. "Jahleel coming back after not having him for that large portion of the season was huge because I feel like our games complement each other. I understand the style of play. He's been in this defense so long that he's someone that I can lean upon because he's been in this defense and made plays. The comfort level is higher and I think that all those things combined play a role."
Addae wasn't the only Charger whose return sparked the defense. Denzel Perryman had been out of action since the end of October, but made an impact with eight tackles (third most on the team).
"I love watching Denzel play," Joey Bosa said. "Just running through (and over) people. Getting two starters back who were big time players for us earlier in the season, just having them back, you saw (the impact) today. We were (feeding) off those guys."