Injuries lead Chargers to bring back Jahleel Addae as safety measure

Chargers safety Jahleel Addae celebrates as Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon is stopped short of a first down.
Chargers safety Jahleel Addae celebrates as Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon is stopped short of a first down during a game in 2018.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

In Week 3 a year ago, Jahleel Addae helped beat the Chargers on a day when he celebrated with glaring exuberance and gestured emphatically toward the sideline at his former teammates.

In Week 3 this year, he was back on that same sideline, now standing with those former teammates, who are his current teammates all over again.

Addae was signed to the Chargers’ practice squad last week, played special teams on Sunday and then was promoted to the active roster Tuesday.


His homecoming has been a rather stunning development that no one could have anticipated when the Chargers let him go with a thanks-for-everything news release in March of 2019.

“Just happy to be in the building and be with my teammates, coaches,” Addae said. “I appreciate the front office giving me a second chance. I’m happy. I’m excited.”

After going undrafted in 2013, Addae signed with the Chargers as a longshot defensive back out of Central Michigan.

Joshua Kelley has a fumble and fellow rookie Justin Herbert three turnovers, mistakes coach Anthony Lynn says the Chargers can’t endure if they expect to win.

Sept. 30, 2020

He earned a job based largely on his ability to play special teams and eventually worked his way into the role of starting strong safety. In his (previous) final season with the team, Addae moved to free safety to make room for then-rookie sensation Derwin James.

Addae struggled playing away from the line of scrimmage and was deemed expendable as the Chargers anticipated increasing the role of Rayshawn Jenkins. Addae signed with Houston, starting three games and finishing with two tackles in a 27-20 victory over the Chargers last September at Dignity Health Sports Park.

“If you’re a competitor like I am you’re going to be fired up,” Addae recalled of that afternoon in 2019. “That’s my game. I talk trash regardless of what team I’m on. … Everyone knows that. It’s all fun and games, all love at the end of the day. I’m just happy to compete wherever I am.”

A free agent once again, Addae went unsigned through the offseason. He said he worked out for Las Vegas and Minnesota but remained without a job. At age 30, he said he never doubted that his playing career would continue, even with all the additional uncertainty brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.


“I played good ball last year,” Addae said. “I’ve put out a lot of good film over the last seven years. I knew things were just going to be different this year, just in life. I knew I would take a little hit on the professional side. I stayed positive. I stayed ready. And here I am.”

The Chargers decided they needed Addae as their injuries continued to mount. They likely will play at Tampa Bay on Sunday minus 10 of the 22 players who were projected to start when training camp opened.

Having already lost James for the season because of a knee surgery, they also are without cornerback Chris Harris Jr. for at least four weeks because of a foot problem. He was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Nasir Adderley has replaced James and Desmond King will take over for Harris.

For now, Addae is expected to remain on special teams. But with the depth chart already stretched thin, his role could always increase out of necessity.

“I felt like this is the best place for me,” Addae said. “This is home for me. I’m familiar with it. I love it here. This is where I want to ball at.”

Out of line

The Chargers’ battered offensive line remained shorthanded Thursday when right guard Trai Turner (groin) and right tackle Bryan Bulaga (back) missed practice for the second consecutive day. Given their inactivity, it appears unlikely either will play Sunday.

Wide receiver Mike Williams (hamstring) also has not practiced this week, meaning he’s likely to be sidelined, as well. The Chargers will release official game designations for all their injured players Friday.

Defensive end Joey Bosa (triceps/ankle) returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis. Jenkins (groin) also was limited.

Offensive lineman Tyree St. Louis practiced in full after being evaluated for a concussion. St. Louis started Sunday against Carolina at right guard but left after three plays.

Chargers cornerback Chris Harris Jr. confirmed on social media Tuesday that he would miss at least a month because of a foot injury suffered against Carolina.

Sept. 29, 2020

No turnover rush

When the Chargers added defensive tackle Linval Joseph, a former powerlifter, in the offseason, the idea was that he could help the pass rush by pushing interior offensive linemen back into the quarterback.

That sort of pressure — along with Bosa and Melvin Ingram charging from the outside — would force hasty and ill-advised decisions that could lead to turnovers.

That was the idea, at least.

“We haven’t to this point made the quarterback make bad decisions because of how we’re affecting him,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “We’re getting pressure but have yet to see that part of it. We just gotta keep going at it.”

Bosa has a sack in each of the Chargers’ three games and the defense has produced 35 quarterback pressures, tied for fifth in the NFL. But their six sacks rank tied for 17th.

The Chargers also have forced only one fumble. A hit by Denzel Perryman knocked the ball out against Cincinnati and led to a key fourth-quarter turnover in a 16-13 win.


The Chargers have added linebacker B.J. Bello and offensive lineman Ryan Hunter to their practice squad this week. … All-time (including the postseason) against Tom Brady, the Chargers franchise is 2-9. Brady will start Sunday for Tampa Bay after spending two decades with New England.