The injury bug has been eating at the Los Angeles Chargers defense heavily; in fact, out of the seven players on injured reserve, only one of them is from the offensive side of the ball (center Mike Pouncey). Granted, some of these injuries aren’t season-ending, like in the case of Chris Harris or Melvin Ingram. But others, like Derwin James and Drue Tranquill, are season-ending. And there’s a few non-IR players that are still a bit banged up right now. This means we’re going to be seeing some different and new faces out there; most of them actually familiar, such as the return of Jahleel Addae, who’d spent six years with the Chargers from 2013 to 2018. But some of the replacements are still better than others.
Jahleel Addae Among Los Angeles Chargers Defense Injury Replacements
The Safeties and the Return of Jahleel Addae
Since Jahleel Addae is the featured player here, we’ll just go straight into his situation and what brought him back. Fans probably remember him as a safety who was a hard hitter and did make good stops sometimes. But he also took some poor angles on other plays that allowed big plays to be given up.
Oddly enough, Addae’s signing (or rather, activation to the active roster) was actually a response to Chris Harris getting injured, even though they play different positions entirely. But perhaps that’s because Desmond King (also a cornerback normally) had been getting rotated in and out with Nasir Adderley at safety opposite Rayshawn Jenkins. With Harris out, King will go back to his usual slot corner spot. Adderley has been a bit hit-or-miss himself, so this is probably to give them a bit more flexibility at safety – especially since Jenkins is a bit banged up himself right now. Still, even if Addae remains a rotational backup to Jenkins and Adderley, this still shows that they really don’t think rookie Alohi Gilman’s ready yet.
Cornerbacks Without Harris
Without Chris Harris, the cornerback lineup reverts primarily to the same general lineup we saw last year. As mentioned earlier, Desmond King will go back to being the starting slot corner. That ought to temporarily satisfy his complaints about his lack of snaps. And Michael Davis becomes/remains the primary corner opposite Casey Hayward. That’s actually a pretty good lineup, as Davis has improved into a fairly good corner himself. Out of all the injuries, Harris’s might actually hurt the least in terms of the quality of the backup plan.
Defensive Line Without Ingram
This one we’ve already seen in Week 3, as this replacement occurred before that game. However, with Ingram on short-term injured reserve, that’s allowed the Chargers to put an experiment into play that they had planned if Ingram had continued his brief holdout during the off-season. That experiment was moving linebacker Uchenna Nwosu to defensive end and have him be Ingram’s backup. He didn’t show anything dramatic, as he only had three combined tackles and no other stats – though there’s still reason to hope for better. Still, even if Nwosu doesn’t reach Ingram’s level, Joey Bosa can still do some things by himself, as shown when he got a critical late sack in Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers on their final drive to give the Chargers a chance.
Nwosu’s switch to defensive end doesn’t affect the linebacker lineup much, as Nwosu had just been a depth piece there lately with the Chargers running primarily two-linebacker sets with Kenneth Murray and Kyzir White (the latter starting after Tranquill got hurt).
As shown, the Chargers have lost some key players – whether temporarily or not. Some of the backup situations look better than others. In particular, the safety situation seems shaky right now, but Adderley will hopefully start playing more consistently better. It will also be interesting to watch and see if Uchenna Nwosu can become an impact player as a defensive end. Hopefully, there won’t be many more injuries. There can be only so many decent veteran backups or position switches before you start running out of options.
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