Chargers' Secondary Prepares for Michael Davis' Suspension, Impending Return of Derwin James and Adrian Phillips
COSTA MESA, Calif. -- As the final month of the NFL's regular season approaches, the Los Angeles Chargers prepare for several changes in their secondary. This week marks the beginning of Michael Davis' two-game suspension, forcing an already undermanned group to operate without one of its starting cornerbacks. But while Davis' absence will hurt the defense, reinforcements should arrive shortly.
The NFL suspended Davis last Friday for a violation of its substance-abuse policy. According to a statement issued by the Chargers, Davis "made a significant mistake this past offseason, a mistake for which he must be held accountable." The third-year corner will serve his suspension over the next two weeks, becoming eligible to return to the team following Week 14's matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
To account for Davis' absence, the Chargers promoted cornerback Tevaughn Campbell from the practice squad. Campbell spent time on the 53-man roster earlier this season. Campbell will presumably back up Brandon Facyson, who started the two games Davis missed to a hamstring injury in September.
But while Davis will remain out of the picture for the start of December, the Chargers expect two starting defensive backs make their return from serious injuries in the near future. On Monday, All-Pro safety Derwin James practiced for the first time since fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during training camp. James expressed confidence that he could play Sunday if called upon. Whether or not he returns this week, James should make his 2019 debut shortly.
And he might have company. Fellow starting safety Adrian Phillips, who has spent most of the season on IR with a fractured forearm, returned to practice last week in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Head coach Anthony Lynn said Phillips looked good in practice and didn't need much additional time before returning to the active roster. Phillips originally suffered the injury in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions.
Injuries have ravaged the Chargers this year, hitting them especially hard in the secondary. Davis' suspension only adds to the issues, forcing another young player into an important role. However, barring a setback, the unit should finally have all of its preferred starters on the field together before the end of the season.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH