Most people say preseason games don’t matter in the NFL, and this is largely true. However, some preseason situations are serious. One scenario is when key players get injured. A recent instance involved Texans RB Lamar Miller, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 4 of the preseason.
Multiple injuries heading into the season
Last season, Chargers third-year DE Joey Bosa missed more than half of the season with a foot injury. He’s still dealing with foot soreness as we enter the 2019 regular season. WR Keenan Allen missed all four preseason games with a minor ankle injury, though he should be ready for the Chargers’ game against the Colts. OL Russell Okung is being treated for a pulmonary embolism, which will sideline him indefinitely — a serious health concern that goes beyond football.
Injury strikes a second-year safety with great potential
Perhaps the most significant injury the Chargers faced this preseason happened to S Derwin James. The 2018 first-round draft pick grabbed 30 interceptions in his rookie season, along with 3.5 sacks and 105 tackles. He was expected to play a big defensive role this season, but that won’t happen now.
James had a screw inserted into his foot when he was in high school, and he bent the screw and reinjured his foot during a joint practice with the Colts after he took a false step.
How long will Derwin James be sidelined?
Initial hopes were that James would miss just a few weeks, but the team since announced he will miss three to four months. As a result, the Chargers placed James on injured reserve, meaning he’ll miss at least the first eight weeks of the season. Given the estimated timeframe for his return, it will be longer than that.
With a long career ahead of the 23-year-old safety, the Chargers will likely play it conservatively with the defender in hopes of ensuring his foot heals and he is healthy long-term. This means they’re sacrificing the majority, if not all, of James’ second season in the league.
What should the Chargers do without James?
In James’ absence, the Chargers will rely on bigger performances out of safeties Rayshawn Jenkins, Adrian Phillips, and Nasir Adderley. Jenkins has only started one game in his first two seasons in the NFL. Phillips started seven games last season, pulling down an interception, forcing a fumble, and racking up 94 tackles (four for a loss). Adderley is a rookie who the Chargers selected with the 60th overall pick in this year’s draft.
The Chargers’ defense seemed to catch a break when Colts QB Andrew Luck announced his retirement. The team will face a Colts team in Week 1 that will have had just a couple weeks to change their playbook. They’ll have to focus on QB Jacoby Brissett’s playing style rather than Luck’s.
In the rest of September, the Chargers play the Lions, Texans, and Dolphins. The Texans are the only one of the three teams expected to have an offense that could be one of the better ones in the NFL.