Chargers’ Derwin James explains ejection; Joey Bosa reveals unnoted illness

He declared himself 100% healthy, Derwin James Jr. having cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol and now fully back with the Chargers.

The three-time Pro Bowl safety offered another emphatic declaration Thursday:

“I’m not a dirty player,” James said. “If you look at how I play every week, I’m not out to hurt nobody. I don’t play the game that way. I wasn’t taught the game that way.”

James, speaking for the first time since he was ejected for a high hit on Indianapolis wide receiver Ashton Dulin on Dec. 26, said the incident was the result of the play unfolding quickly.

Flagged for a 15-yard penalty, James was then kicked out after a consultation among game officials. The league later issued a fine but opted to not suspend James.

“I was just trying to play fast, aggressive for my team and make a play,” James said. “Unfortunately, that happened … but I’m not out there trying to be dirty. I’m playing fast, and the guys know that.”

James, a team captain and the Chargers’ nominee for the latest Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, said he was “definitely surprised” by the ejection, echoing a sentiment coach Brandon Staley shared after the game.

James and Dulin each suffered a concussion and missed Week 17. Both players have resumed practicing in full with their teams this week.

Also having dealt with a quadriceps injury, James has played only 25 snaps over the last four games, each a Chargers victory.

On Sunday, the team will visit Denver for its regular-season finale, a game that might be meaningless for the playoff-bound Chargers.

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If Baltimore loses in the NFL’s early window of games, the Chargers will clinch the fifth seed in the AFC no matter how they do against the Broncos.

So, until right before kickoff Sunday, it will remain unclear how much James and the Chargers’ regulars will play.

For his part, James said he’s preparing as if the Chargers will need to win and with the intention of playing as many snaps as possible.

Edge rusher Joey Bosa is in a similar situation having just come back after missing 12 games because of a core-muscle injury that required surgery.

A four-time Pro Bowl player, Bosa played 24 snaps Sunday in his return against the Rams. And that almost didn’t happen.

Bosa on Thursday revealed that he began feeling the effects of food poisoning Saturday, saying he was “about six hours from not being able to play.”

He said fish was the likely culprit, adding, “My girlfriend’s not going to be my chef ever again.”

Because he was feeling physically drained, Bosa said it was difficult to gauge his level of conditioning against the Rams.

“I was really just kind of focused on getting through the game, getting the win and staying healthy,” he said. “There was a lot going on in my head that day. It was rough.”

Chargers defensive stars Joey Bosa, left, and Khalil Mack talk before their game against the Rams. Bosa revealed he was dealing with food poisoning going into the game.

(Robert Gauthier / VFAB)

Bosa indicated that he expects to play against Denver, never mentioning any caveat about the game’s significance. He also said he believes he’ll “definitely be good to go” conditioning-wise for the start of the playoffs.

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Having missed so much time and now feeling better than he has in two years after his surgery eased chronic core-muscle pain, Bosa said he’s eager for the postseason.

“I’m talking to my brother [Nick, who plays for San Francisco] yesterday and he’s just worn down from a full season of grinding,” Bosa said. “I’m like, ‘I don’t feel too bad. What’s the big deal?’ It’s definitely a unique thing being kind of fresh [at this point of a season].”

Despite being mostly without James and Bosa, the Chargers’ defense has strung four strong performances, allowing only 44 total points in wins over Miami, Tennessee, Indianapolis and the Rams.

“It’s the ultimate team game,” defensive lineman Morgan Fox said. “One guy goes down you can’t let the whole machine fall apart. When one guy goes down, you have 10 guys rallying around the next man. Those 10 guys make everyone’s job easier.”

Against the Broncos, the Chargers will face an offense that ranks last in the league in points and 24th in yards. Having lost seven of eight, Denver has topped 25 points once all season.

But the Broncos are coming off a loss during which they led at Kansas City entering the fourth quarter before falling 27-24.

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