Chargers safety Derwin James starts practicing; eyes return to active roster

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The wait is over for Derwin James.

After starting the season on the injured reserve due to a stress fracture in his right foot that required surgery, the Los Angeles Chargers All-Pro safety returned to the field on Monday, his team's first practice since returning from bye week.

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said his team officially designated James to return from injured reserve, starting the three-week window to add the Florida State product to the active roster.

Undrafted rookie Roderic Teamer started the first six games of the year in place of James. However, Teamer has been slowed due to a groin injury, so versatile defensive back Jaylen Watkins has started at strong safety instead.

Lynn said that James will have to show this week he's healthy enough to play on the road against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, and that fellow safety Adrian Phillips, who was designated to return from IR two weeks ago after missing nine games with a broken forearm, is closer to getting back out on the field.

"I thought he looked pretty good," Lynn said about James. "But he hasn't been out there practicing, so we're going to take it slow, just to see how he moves around and see how he looks."

Lynn wants to see how James changes direction, along with a return of his trademark quickness and burst, before placing him on the active roster. For his part, James said he feels good and is ready to play.

"I'm a guy that if I start something, I always want to finish it," James said. "We've got five games, and I feel like we can finish the season off 9-7.

"It's been very difficult mentally because I want to be out there and I love this game. Anybody that loves the game of football would want to be out there. So it's been kind of hard, but to be back out there practicing, I'm fortunate and happy."

The Chargers appear healthier overall coming off the bye week. Along with James, offensive tackles Russell Okung (groin), Sam Tevi (knee), running back Justin Jackson (calf) and receiver Geremy Davis (hamstring) returned to practice.

James suffered a Jones stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot during a joint practice against the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 15.

The injury was a re-fracture of an initial stress fracture he suffered heading into his sophomore season at Florida State. Foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson performed surgery to repair the issue on Aug. 22 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Chargers placed James on the injured reserve to start the season, which means he must miss at least the first eight games of the year. The typical time frame for James' injury is three to four months, putting James' return to the field right on target for his recovery period.

Selected No. 17 overall in the 2018 draft, the Florida State product played in all 16 games last season. James led the Chargers in tackles (105) in 2018, also posting 3.5 sacks, three interceptions and 15 pass breakups, earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors as a rookie.