Before the pandemic, Chargers reporters found Derwin James in the locker room under the number 33, sometimes playing with his dreads and always smiling.
When reporters were allowed back in the locker room Monday for the first time since 2019, some things had changed. No. 33 had been replaced by No. 3. James’ smile was still there, but the dreads were gone.
“I just wanted to get it a little cleaner,” James said. “I want to go back to the real DJ3.”
By the “real DJ3,” he means back to his college days when he had short hair and wore No. 3, which he also changed during the offseason.
After deciding to cut his hair, he decided to reach out to his coach.
“He FaceTime’d me over the weekend,” Staley said. “I’m in full support of that. He looks handsome. I told him, as long as your wife is good with it, that’s the main thing [laughter]. I said, ‘I’m going to be good with whatever you do.’”
James is the quarterback of the defense and a crucial part of Staley’s plans. From the moment he walked through the door, Staley said he wanted to build the defense around James.
Even though James changed his look, his intensity is still there, and his love for competition is still there. The AFC West made several additions to the division to make it one of the most competitive in the NFL.
“A blessing,” James said. “If you consider yourself the best, why not play against the best? It’s a blessing to be able to go out there, play them two times a year. It’s going to be fun.”
This weekend the Chargers will be facing the Raiders and one of the division’s biggest additions, receiver Davante Adams.
“I was excited,” James said. “Any time you can add players like that, it makes the game that much more fun.”
There are questions on whether cornerback J.C. Jackson will play on Sunday, so there could be a chance that James defends Adams.
“He’s one of the best at what he does,” James explained. “You have to be ready for kind of everything. One of the best receivers we’re going to go up against this year.”
During training camp and on The Pat McAfee Show, James keeps saying how hungry he and the team are going into this season. He had his hold-in during most of training camp, which could be a positive.
The legs are fresh, and the mind is clear for the most important player on the defense. James is just ready to hit the field on Sunday.
“I’m healthy, ready to go, and like I said, I got my hair cut!” James said. “I can’t wait to go. I’m ready. It’s like the first day of school. I can’t wait.”
Chargers CB J.C. Jackson off walking boot
There was a report from NFL Network on Wednesday morning that Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson would not be playing on Sunday against the Raiders. That was the first thing that head coach Brandon Staley was asked about when he stepped up to the podium.
“I can’t confirm that. J.C.’s boot is off, he was running yesterday, and he is day-to-day,” Staley said.
So, there is a chance that Jackson can play, but will he practice?
“I don’t know if he will, but he is out of his boot, and he ran yesterday,” Staley said. “He is on the road to recovery.”
Jackson is two weeks removed from ankle surgery. He was reportedly going to miss two to four weeks, so this is his second week and a half. Staley thinks it will be a game-time decision.
“Yes, I do,” Staley said. “But things are very positive.”
The Chargers cornerback was a big-time addition to the team in the offseason and brings versatility to the defense. He is a ball hawk and will help when he returns.
If he doesn’t play on Sunday, the Chargers are confident in Michael Davis, Asante Samuel Jr., Bryce Callahan, and their secondary.
“We know how to use the players that are going to be out there, so we have a lot of confidence in everybody that’s going to go play out there in that game of, whoever it is and make sure that they’re in the right role to do so,” Staley said.
Chargers vote on team captains
The Chargers players voted on their team captains this week. They decided on eight players: James, quarterback Justin Herbert, running back Austin Ekeler, receiver Keenan Allen, center Corey Linsley, defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, edge rushers Joey Bosa, and Khalil Mack.
“Those eight guys will be captains on this football team,” Staley said. “They will be wearing that ‘C’ on their jersey, but as I told the group, everyone on our team is going to have a hand in leading our football team. I’m really proud of the eight of those guys. I think they’ve certainly earned that mantle of having the ‘C’ on their chest. I’m excited for them to represent us this year in 2022.”
Injury report for Wednesday
Did not participate: CB J.C. Jackson (ankle), TE Donald Parham (hamstring). Full participant: RB Isaiah Spiller (ankle).