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What Derwin James' Return Means to a New-Look Chargers Defense


NFL Network's Omar Ruiz joined the latest episode of "Chargers Weekly" to discuss the return of All-Pro safety Derwin James and the current landscape of the AFC West.

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Here are a few highlights with Ruiz.

Takeaways from Monday's OTA and James' presser

"I think what's more telling about his participation on Monday is when we were watching him, Chris, I noticed that he didn't sit out any plays. In all the plays that we were able to watch that were open to the media, he participated in every single play for the defense. And usually, for the fans that might be unfamiliar, usually a big star like that will sit out and be substituted for every now and again, but Derwin was there. And that was before we found out that he had been officially medically cleared, and then after practice Brandon Staley said that he had been in fact cleared.

"So getting back to your question here, what stood out to me is when Derwin said [paraphrasing], 'Hey, I know I had some bad luck the last couple of years. That's all I'm going to label it as. I am still going full bore in this. I am not going to scale back myself. I need all the reps I can get.' Essentially what he's saying is, 'I am a great player because I work at it and I don't take reps off, and I need all the reps I can get in practice,' and that was very clear to us in watching him take every rep at that practice on Monday. And I think Brandon Staley, for his part, and the coaching staff and the medical staff and the sports performance [staff] -- everybody coming together -- to collectively scale back some of the workouts and not go full bore in one-on-ones or in 11-on-11 competition make it more of a mental camp. So that way Derwin doesn't have to reign it in if he feels he has to. He can just go 100 percent mentally, get to where he needs to go, get all those reps on the field physically as hard as they are allowing, and recover to 100 percent come Week 1."

On the game slowing down for James

"And I think another takeaway from his press conference was the fact that he said that he feels he's a smarter player, and obviously being on the sideline all of last year, he had time to go through those mental reps from the sideline and take the game more from a cerebral approach. Not that he didn't before, but obviously last year he was forced to in a way that he had never had, and so I think he came out feeling like he was a better player for that experience. And he said the game has slowed down for him, and so when you have a player, who you said, is as tone-setting as it gets in the NFL -- already one of the best players. When he's been healthy, he's been just so electrifying and he's just one of those players even out at practice on Monday, one of those guys you just can't help take your eyes off of because of the way he moves and the way he anticipates, the way he reads the play and all of that. If he's even smarter and the game has slowed down for him, look out for Derwin James in 2021."

Check out some photos of the Chargers in the weight room during the off-season program.

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