The Los Angeles Chargers have lost arguably the best player on their defense for a while. Derwin James, a first-team All-Pro safety in his rookie season, is out for a significant amount of time after suffering a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. James was spotted in a boot Friday.
The Chargers have no timetable on his return, and in fact it sounds like Anthony Lynn isn't ruling out the possibility of James missing the entire season.
James has emerged into one of the NFL's best safeties after just one year in the league. The 2018 first-round pick out of Florida State finished with 105 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three interceptions and 13 passes defensed while starting all 16 games. James had 19 quarterback pressures on just 68 pass-rush snaps, which was second in the NFL at his position. His 7.1 yards per reception allowed ranked fourth among all safeties who spent at least 200 snaps in coverage. James tied Antoine Bethea as the only two safeties to see more than 33 targeted passes and not allow a reception longer than 21 yards.
James is the latest devastating injury for the Chargers this summer. Starting left tackle Russell Okung suffered a pulmonary embolism and doesn't appear close toward making his return, while No. 1 wide receiver Keenan Allen is out for the remainder of the preseason with an ankle injury.
Running back Melvin Gordon is holding out, seeking a new contract. The Chargers have an offer on the table that would pay Gordon around $10 million per year, but Gordon is looking to be paid amongst the top backs in the league. Chargers general manager Tom Telesco has not given permission for Gordon to request a trade.
The Chargers will turn to Desmond King II or Adrian Phillips to fill the void at safety while James is out. Phillips, a first-team All-Pro special teamer in 2018, has been working with the first-team defense. He had 94 tackles, one interception, a forced fumble and nine pass deflections in seven starts at three different positions last year (16 games). King had a breakout season in year two in the NFL, finishing with 62 tackles, three interceptions and one forced fumble.