The Chargers had safety Derwin James back on the field for the start of organized team activities on Monday and James faced questions about staying on the field after the workout.
James missed the first 11 games of the 2019 season after hurting his foot in an August practice and he missed all of last season after injuring his knee in an intrasquad scrimmage. That led to a question about whether he’d play it safe in practices this year in order to make it to Week 1.
James said he’ll find ways to work smarter, but his long layoff means that he needs the practice time too much to put injury avoidance at the top of the list.
“I need my practice,” James said, via Gilbert Manzano of the Los Angeles Daily News. “I can’t sit up here and say I can just go out here and play a perfect game. I need my practice reps. I cannot play this game and not practice, so I need my reps. I can’t simulate a game on how I’m going to be able to make the tackle, so I need to be out there in practice to make the tackle, to make the play or show myself that I can put myself in position to make the plays that I know I can make. I’m not really looking at it as [trying to avoid injuries]. Of course, I can be smarter here and there, but I’m here to play football.”
Balancing preparation and preservation will be a fine line for the Chargers and James to walk in the coming months, but doing so successfully should have great benefits for their hopes in 2021.