SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports activities’ Lorenzo Reyes discusses NFL contract disputes, positional battles and the way avid gamers recuperating from damage glance as minicamps ramp up.
USA TODAY Sports activities

COSTA MESA, Calif. – There was no easing into his rookie yr for Los Angeles Chargers first-round pick out Derwin James.

If anything else, the Chargers have put the previous Florida State protection whom they drafted with the No. 17 pick out on an sped up program. No participant has taken extra defensive snaps all the way through the previous couple of weeks of voluntary exercises or all the way through this week’s minicamp, as James has labored at protection with each the first- and second-team devices.

He’s performed maximum of his snaps at sturdy protection, however has additionally covered up as a deep loose protection and close to the road of scrimmage, all a part of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s plan to only see what number of techniques he can use his latest flexible defensive again.

It’s mentally and bodily hard, and James loves it.

“They’re simply seeking to see what I will do, and it’s all beginning to make sense to me,” James informed USA TODAY Sports activities on Wednesday. “They picked me within the first around, so the expectancies have been prime coming in. I do know what sort of participant I’m. I mentioned it the entire approach popping out of faculty that I felt like I used to be the most productive participant within the draft, and I simply wish to truly exhibit what I will do, and truly agree with the training and agree with my teammates round me.”

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James is already appearing he might be the lacking piece for a Chargers protection that ranked 3rd in passing yards allowed however wanted assist at protection. In Wednesday’s minicamp, he ended follow with an finish zone interception of quarterback Philip Rivers.

Rivers knew James can be on alert to hide the seam path, however he attempted to zip a move to the again of the zone anyway. James learn the play and performed his project completely, jumping into the air to clutch Rivers’ move sooner than finishing up at the backside of a canine pile of defensive teammates. Such performs in follow have turn into regimen for James this spring, teammates mentioned.

“He’s been doing what he does highest, out right here making performs. He hits beautiful onerous, so I’m excited to look him in pads,” receiver Mike Williams mentioned.

And now James might be the easiest supplement to a secondary that comes with cornerback Casey Hayward, who has 11 interceptions previously two seasons and signed a freelance extension previous this yr, and Jason Verrett, a former first-round pick out who has performed simply 5 video games previously two seasons on account of an ACL damage that required more than one surgical procedures.

The Chargers were expanding Verrett’s workload this offseason, every now and then having to carry him again for his personal just right, head trainer Anthony Lynn mentioned. Wednesday marked Verrett’s first day he’s practiced totally in group drills since Week 1 of closing season.

“Having the ability to get again to how I used to play, and including directly to what they did closing yr, we might be particular,” Verrett mentioned.


Apply Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones


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