COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Derwin James remains involved with the Los Angeles Chargers defense despite being injured.
The All-Pro safety attends meetings and walkthroughs while he rehabs from surgery to repair a stress fracture on his right foot. James suffered the injury during training camp and had surgery Aug. 22. He is on injured reserve but the hope is that James can return for the final five games of the regular season.
"I'm Coach James right now," he said. "I still need to be involved in the mental part of the game. I don't want to be all the way out."
James' second seasons in college and the NFL have been marred by injuries. He first suffered a stress fracture on the foot the summer before his sophomore season at Florida State. Then two games into the 2016 season, he tore the meniscus in his knee during the fourth quarter of a blowout victory against Charleston Southern.
He didn't play the rest of that season and redshirted. The one valuable lesson James learned is that you can't rush the rehab process.
"It is very important with any fractures to make sure the bone heals on its own. With a hamstring or some soft tissue injuries you might be able to push it but with bones you can't," he said.
James became an integral part of the Chargers defense last season after being drafted with the 17th-overall pick. He led the team with 105 tackles along with four interceptions, 3.5 sacks and 13 passes defensed. He also had two sacks and an interception in the first three games, becoming the first rookie in a non-strike year since Dallas' Bill Bates in 1983 to accomplish that.
James said he knew something was wrong with his foot after making an interception during a joint practice with the Saints on Aug. 15.
"I knew but I didn't want to know. It felt the same way it did in college," he said. "I was very disappointed because I wanted to continue the momentum I had last year. It kind of stinks. The rehab process is tough and long but it makes your game better."
Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said James has done a good job remaining engaged in meetings while rehabbing, including breaking down the defensive game plan for Sunday's game at Detroit before Thursday's practice.
Adrian Philips is starting in James' place and had six tackles in Sunday's 30-24 win over Indianapolis.
James is among a growing number of injured Chargers. Cornerback Trevor Williams was placed on injured reserve earlier this week due to a nagging quad injury and tight end Hunter Henry is out for an extended period due to a knee injury.
Wide receiver Mike Williams (knee), kicker Michael Badgley (groin) and linebacker Denzel Perryman (ankle) are among seven players listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Detroit. The Chargers are aiming for their first 2-0 start since 2012 and have won eight of their last nine regular-season road games.
"It's all over the league. From week to week sometimes you never know what roster you're going to have. As coaches, it's our job to figure out how to win with the personnel that we have," coach Anthony Lynn said.