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Beat up Joey Bosa not complaining about surprise week off. Chargers need healing too

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (97) grimaces after jumping offsides.
Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (97) has had his frustrations this season.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

As the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, Joey Bosa is enjoying a $135-million slice of it.

Yet, even with $102 million of his five-year deal guaranteed, the pass-rushing defensive end admitted the money isn’t as freeing as he anticipated.

“I kind of expected it to take pressure off me,” Bosa said Wednesday. “Like, ‘Oh, man, I got the contract. Now, I just play.’ But, no, it kind of is even more pressure, it feels like. I just don’t want to let people down. I want to live up to the expectations and to the expectations that the team has for me.”

Bosa signed his record extension Aug. 1 and began the season with sacks in each of the Chargers’ first three games. He added a fourth sack Monday in a 30-27 overtime loss at New Orleans.

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Because of multiple injuries, Bosa almost didn’t play. He has been dealing with triceps and knee issues, but it was a sprained ankle that had him questionable until shortly before kickoff.

Had the game been played Sunday, Bosa said he likely would have had to sit out. As it was, he played mostly on third downs and was limited to 28 snaps.

The Chargers have a problem with giving up points in the second half of football games, and it’s a big culprit behind their four-game losing streak.

“For Week 5, I’m definitely pretty beat up,” Bosa said. “But it’s all things that are manageable and, luckily, just dings here and there.”

He was one of the Chargers who received a break Sunday when the NFL was forced to reschedule several games because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One change moved the Chargers’ week off from mid-November to now.

This team has been riddled by injuries. When Sam Tevi had to sit out five snaps against the Saints after an apparent poke in the eye, the left tackle became the 14th preseason projected starter to miss time.

Coach Anthony Lynn said at one point Monday he looked out and saw his entire defensive line made up of players who were on the scout team a week earlier.

“Selfishly, I need [the break] right now,” Bosa said. “It’s huge for a lot of guys. Of course, once Week 10 rolls around, we’re going to be bumming that we don’t have a week off.”

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Bosa said the extra time should allow him to do more weightlifting and running, permitting him to focus on the “usual things that keep me in my best shape.”

The injuries have forced him to miss practice, something Bosa hates to do because he loses sharpness. “I really value my practice” is how he put it Wednesday.

Even at home, Bosa can’t fully escape the reality of NFL injuries. His little brother, Nick, has been staying with him while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that ended his season with San Francisco.

The Chargers had their fourth consecutive loss Monday against the Saints, but coach Anthony Lynn is hopeful the team can start winning again.

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The Bosa boys’ parents have been taking turns visiting to help. Their father, John, is scheduled to arrive this week.

“He’s coming to be the nurse for Nick, not for me,” Bosa joked. “[Nick’s] getting the full treatment from those two.”

In his fifth season, Bosa has seen plenty of injuries. He sat out the first four games of his rookie year because of a hamstring problem. In 2018, he missed nine games after suffering a foot injury in training camp.

Despite all the ailing Chargers today, Bosa said he doesn’t feel as if this season is much different from the others.

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“Honestly, no, because we’ve kind of always dealt with this,” he said. “I honestly lose track because it’s been kind of like this, I feel like, almost every year.”

Amid all the damaged body parts and a 1-4 start, the Chargers might have discovered their next franchise quarterback, Justin Herbert becoming a sensation.

Bosa has praised the rookie since early in training camp and said Monday that he continues to be impressed by Herbert’s development.

The Chargers lose another close game, this time to the Saints in overtime. Meanwhile, the Rams keep delivering in clutch.

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He explained that Herbert approached him after the loss to the Saints and apologized, in particular for missing wide receiver K.J. Hill on a crucial third-down pass in overtime.

“I told him, ‘Justin, after all the amazing throws you made today, it’s OK. We all made mistakes. It’s all of us,’ ” Bosa said. “He’s doing a good job as a leader. I’m proud of how he’s moving along right now.”

Etc.

Lynn said he expected wide receiver Keenan Allen, cornerback Casey Hayward and pass rusher Uchenna Nwosu to be fine. All three were injured against New Orleans. Allen had lower-back spasms and Nwosu suffered cramps. Hayward’s injury has not been disclosed.


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