Joey Bosa explains why Derwin James shouldn’t be on field and why Chargers need him on it

Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa is flanked by Jamal Davis II and Carlo Kemp during practice on Thursday.
Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa is flanked by Jamal Davis II (44) and Carlo Kemp (54) during practice at the Chargers’ training facility in Costa Mesa on Thursday.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Two years ago, Joey Bosa agreed to his contract extension on the day veterans reported to Chargers training camp.

Now, he’s watching as teammate Derwin James Jr.’s situation is unsettled two days into practice.

James was on the field again Thursday in Costa Mesa but remained a nonparticipant in drills.


“He’s, I think, doing the right thing,” Bosa said. “He obviously deserves whatever he’s gonna get. He puts in 100% every single day. He’s just making the best decision for him right now.

“But the fact that he’s out here coaching the guys, fully involved, 100% locked in every day, it obviously means a lot to all of us. I’m sure the coaches see it and really appreciate it.”

Chargers star safety Derwin James, who has one year left on his contract, will not practice until he receives a contract extension.

July 27, 2022

Seeking an extension, James is set to make slightly more than $9 million on the option year of the rookie deal he signed after the Chargers drafted him No. 17 overall in 2018.

Coach Brandon Staley said Wednesday that James will not practice until the issue is resolved. Staley sounded optimistic that an agreement could be reached soon.

Also in 2020, not quite six weeks after Bosa secured his extension, wide receiver Keenan Allen agreed to a new deal.

“I’m pretty sure they’ll get that handled,” Allen said of negotiations between the Chargers and James’ representatives. “That’s a guy that we definitely need. He’s the heart of the defense, heart of the team pretty much.”


Mack trucking

Chargers linebacker Khalil Mack (52) stands on the field before a drill at practice Thursday.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

It’s early, but veteran edge rusher Khalil Mack has looked sharp in his new surroundings.

Coming back from a foot injury that limited him to seven games in 2021, Mack has been quick and disruptive during 11-on-11 drills.

He and Bosa are expected to provide the Chargers with a dynamic punch in their pass rush.

Bosa predicted that he and Mack are “definitely going to have a close bond by the end of this year. We kind of are together all practice talking football the whole time.”

Following Thursday’s on-field session, Bosa said he and Mack planned to study tape of Bosa’s younger brother, Nick, who is an edge rusher for San Francisco. Joey Bosa said the pair plan to break down other pass rushers regularly, looking for techniques or moves they could use.

Since Bosa and Mack employ different styles in attempting to get to opposing quarterbacks, Bosa said both their games could expand this season.


Khalil Mack was considered “soft” and was deemed only a two-star recruit out of high school. Here’s how the Chargers linebacker changed his reputation.

July 26, 2022

“I think sometimes those are the best people you can learn from because it’s such a different feel,” Bosa said. “They see things that you don’t see. They use technique that maybe you haven’t learned or used before.”

Defense dominates

For the second consecutive day, the defense had a decided edge over the offense during the full-team portions of practice. Cornerback Michael Davis, linebacker Damon Lloyd and safety Alohi Gilman made notable plays.

“It’s been tough already,” Allen said. “They kicked our [tail] today, which is a good thing. Hopefully, we can just keep building on it.”

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco revamped his defense during the offseason, trading for Mack, spending up to $126 million in free agency and drafting four players.

Years before standout NFL cornerback J.C. Jackson signed with the Chargers, his life in a small Florida town was nearly derailed by armed robbery charges.

July 25, 2022

It is not unusual for defenses to be ahead of offenses this early in camp, offenses typically relying more on timing and precision.

Quarterback Justin Herbert struggled to find many open receivers, including during seven-on-seven drills. He often was left holding the ball for what likely would have been coverage sacks.


Going fourth

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws at practice on Thursday.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

During his rookie season as an NFL head coach, Staley gained immense attention for his fourth-down decisions. The Chargers went for it on fourth down 34 times. Only Detroit and Chicago had more attempts.

They were successful 22 times, which led the league. The Chargers’ success rate of 64.7% tied for fourth overall.

With a new season dawning, Staley said his philosophy about being aggressive in such situations hasn’t changed. But he also said that doesn’t necessarily ensure that the Chargers will be among the leaders in going for it on fourth down again.

“We have a brand new team,” he said. “So to say we’re going to do it exactly like we did last year, that won’t be the case.”

One factor that could affect Staley’s decisions is an improved defense. The Chargers struggled, especially in getting third-down stops, for much of 2021.


Chargers standout Derwin James Jr. is one of the NFL’s top safeties, following through on a strong football legacy established by his father in Florida.

July 27, 2022

If this defense proves to be more reliable, Staley might be inclined to lean more in that direction at times.

Then again, with Herbert, Staley figures to remain comfortable keeping the ball in the hands of his Pro Bowl quarterback.

“All of those decisions are about feel,” Staley said. “They’re about mindset. And then there’s the math that’s also a part of it. But it’s more mindset than math. I can assure you of that. It’s the way that we want to play as a team.”

Practice observations

  • With Kenneth Murray Jr. (ankle surgery) out, Kyle Van Noy has been playing inside linebacker, which he did with Murray unavailable during the offseason program too. Van Noy can also play on the edge.
  • Larry Rountree III was given more premium snaps Thursday after those went mostly to Joshua Kelley on Wednesday. The two are battling rookie Isaiah Spiller for the No. 2 running back spot.
  • One of the few positive plays for the offense came when Herbert hit tight end Donald Parham Jr. along the seam for a touchdown in seven on seven.