Roderic Teamer’s struggles against Texans highlight Chargers’ secondary challenges

Chargers defensive back Roderic Teamer, left, tries to strip the ball away from Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde on Sunday.
Chargers strong safety Roderic Teamer, left, tries to strip the ball away from Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde on Sunday.
(Getty Images)

Sometimes in football, the tape shows the same thing that was suggested in real time.

That was the case for Chargers strong safety Roderic Teamer.

“He looked like a rookie in his first start,” coach Anthony Lynn said Monday. “That’s what he looked like. But we have a lot of confidence in Roderic. I know he’s going to get better. ... He’ll be OK.”

Teamer, an undrafted free agent filling in for the injured Adrian Phillips, finished with seven total tackles in a 27-20 loss to Houston, tying linebacker Thomas Davis for the team lead.


But he also struggled at times, particularly in pass coverage as the Chargers allowed Deshaun Watson to throw five completions that gained 30 or more yards. Watson ended up with 351 passing yards total.

Keenan Allen was virtually unstoppable for the Chargers against the Texans, but no one else in the receiving corps made an impact during the loss.

Teamer was making his NFL debut after missing the first two games because of a hamstring problem. The Chargers are thin at strong safety with All-Pro Derwin James also sidelined after having foot surgery in August.

Last week, Lynn suggested that moving Rayshawn Jenkins from free safety was an option, but the Chargers decided not to do so Sunday. Teamer played all 60 defensive snaps.

“Rayshawn is a heck of a free safety right now,” Lynn said. “That’s what this is all about. You got a guy that’s playing at an elite level at one position. You don’t want to make two moves.

“I think right now we’re looking at Roderic being our strong safety. Anytime we feel like he’s not that guy, we have the flexibility to move him. It could be this week. You never know.”

Jenkins had his first career interception Sept. 15 against Detroit. He intercepted a pass by Watson in the fourth quarter Sunday, but the play was nullified by offsetting penalties.

One move the Chargers won’t be making is putting 2019 second-round draft pick Nasir Adderley at strong safety. The 6-foot, 195-pound rookie is better suited for free safety.

Lynn said he is interested in finding ways to play Adderley more. All 11 of his snaps against the Texans came on special teams.

“We definitely want to work to get him on the field,” Lynn said. “Just not sure how yet. ... But Nas will work his way in there. With his skill set and the way he’s working right now, I have no doubt he will work his way in there.”

One issue the Chargers’ defense is dealing with is communication. With the changes at strong safety and with starting cornerback Michael Davis out with a hamstring injury, the secondary has been in flux.

The Chargers also have Thomas Davis as a 2019 newcomer and, on Sunday, welcomed back linebacker Denzel Perryman, who had been limited because of an ankle problem.

The Chargers blamed penalties, turnovers and other mistakes as the primary culprits for their loss to the Houston Texans, but they remain confident.

“It’s hard, but it’s doable,” Lynn said of establishing good communication with so many moving parts. “We have to get it done. Definitely when you have a young cat in there like Teamer, he was out of position a couple times. ... The communication is important right now on defense.”

Lynn said he liked what Perryman provided. The veteran, who played only three special teams snaps the first two weeks, played 38 snaps on defense and was credited with six tackles Sunday.

“[There was] a little rust as far as his angles because of the speed of the game,” Lynn said. “But [I] love him [going] downhill. We’ve always been a better run defense when Denzel’s in the game. He’s a downhill thumper.”

Virgil Green injury update

Lynn offered no update more specific than “he’ll be day by day for right now” on tight end Virgil Green, who left the game because of a groin injury.

He said kicker Michael Badgley did not suffer a setback over the weekend and was inactive simply because he “wasn’t right.” Badgley has yet to play this season because of a right groin issue.

The Chargers had hoped he would be ready to return Sunday, but his status was downgraded to doubtful Saturday.

“He kicked last week, and he kicked well,” Lynn said. “But he just wasn’t himself yet. We decided to hold him out another week and see where he’s at this week.”

Travis Benjamin also suffered a quadriceps injury. Lynn said he wasn’t sure yet whether the wide receiver would be available to play Sunday at Miami.

Offensive line struggles

The Chargers permitted five sacks, including one that resulted in a fumble by Philip Rivers.

Lynn explained that the offensive line was responsible for four of those sacks, with the Texans ramping up their rush in the second half.

“The protection could have been better in some cases,” Lynn said. “Overall, when we helped those guys and we chipped and we got down the field with the ball, I thought it looked good.

“But there were a couple times when we left the guys on an island with [J.J.] Watt and, hell, that happens with a lot of tackles in this league. Definitely room for improvement.”

Lynn said there was no plan to make any changes among the five starters along the offensive front.