He started the first three games, missed Week 4 because of a knee injury and underwent what, at the time, coach Anthony Lynn described as “minor surgery.”
“It means everything to me,” White said of being back on the field. “It was a dream come true to be on an NFL team. So I’m just trying to take full advantage of it.”
A fourth-round pick in 2018, White won the starting job at outside linebacker as a rookie. In what would be his final game, against the Rams, he had nine tackles, including one for loss.
A week earlier, White had his first career interception, at Buffalo, as the Chargers received immediate dividends from a player who was rising quickly on a developing defense. Then, at least for White, it all ended so abruptly.
But reassurance was waiting, so close by that he had to make only one phone call. He turned to older brother Kevin, then a wide receiver with Chicago.
The Bears selected Kevin with the No. 7 overall pick in 2015. Over the next four years, he suffered a stress fracture in his shin, a broken leg and a fractured shoulder.
“He could definitely relate to what I was going through last year,” White said. “He was a big help for me.”
Kevin was limited to 14 games and 25 receptions during his time with Chicago. He now plays for Arizona, still looking to prove his NFL worth.
“He just pretty much said, ‘It’s life,’ ” White said. “You’re going to have some battles in life. Just keep fighting and don’t give up and you’ll be all right.”
White said he is fully healthy again and has upped his weight to 233 pounds. A former college safety, he was listed at 218 last season.
With the Chargers promoting versatility, particularly on defense, White has been playing some inside linebacker during voluntary workouts.
“I feel like I’m a lot better mentally,” he said. “I think last year I was thinking a little bit too much at times. This year, I feel way more comfortable just as far as my preparation. I know what I’m doing.”
Lynn has explained that the team is asking players to learn multiple positions as a means to increase roster flexibility and lessen the impact of injuries.
Last season the Chargers were decimated at linebacker and eventually had to go to a starting lineup that featured seven defensive backs.
Lynn also said he plans to rest starters more during the 2019 preseason with the hope they will be stronger later in the year.
He said he studied the way several teams — including the Rams, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans — treated the 2018 preseason and is convinced there is an advantage to deemphasizing exhibition games for the starters.
“I did my research and the results speak for themselves,” Lynn said. “I think all those teams were in the playoffs at the end of the season. I think they were playing their best football at the end of the season. I think we’re going to do some things differently this year.”
The Chargers have joint practices scheduled with New Orleans in advance of the teams’ preseason game in Carson on Aug. 18.
Lynn also said Monday that the Chargers and Rams will practice together during training camp, something the teams did two years ago.
On that occasion, there were a couple exchanges that boiled over into what qualifies as brawling in football. Among the main combatants were Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen and Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman.
Still, Lynn said the shared practices can be an effective way to evaluate players, particularly at a time when commissioner Roger Goodell is talking about shortening the preseason schedule.
“You’re going to see them against good competition,” Lynn said. “You’re going to see them against another opponent, which is going to take it to another element. … You can get good evaluations during that week of practice, for sure.”
The Chargers are entering the final phase of their voluntary workouts, with their mandatory three-day minicamp set to begin June 11.
The only veterans who have been absent throughout the offseason are edge rusher Melvin Ingram and running back Melvin Gordon. Both are expected to report to Costa Mesa next week.
Lynn joked that he hasn’t seen Gordon in so long that he can only “vaguely remember what he looks like.” Lynn also indicated he did not think either player will have trouble catching up to the rest of the Chargers.
“The ones that are not here, it’s not that I’m pissed at them or they have bad character,” he said. “I’m not saying that at all because they’re working. I guarantee you Melvin Ingram and Melvin Gordon are working.”