COSTA MESA, Calif. -- It’s usually bad news when one of your best players is out for an extended period of time with a significant injury.
That's certainly the case for the Los Angeles Chargers, with All-Pro safety Derwin James starting the regular season on injured reserve after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot.
However, when James returns to the field, he should be the same explosive playmaker that fell to the Chargers in the first round of the 2018 draft.
Defensive end Joey Bosa has been there. He missed the first nine games of the regular season last year with a bruised left foot but worked through his rehab and returned for the Chargers' second-half run, which included a postseason berth.
Bosa said he's been supporting James as he goes through the rehabilitation process, and believes his teammate also will make a successful return.
"He's just been asking me a few questions about the recovery process," Bosa said. "I'm sure more will come, and I'll be there to help him with it. It's a little different scenario with the surgery and everything, but pretty similar, I think.
"Right now, there's not really much he can do. He's in a boot kind of just trying to keep other parts of his body strong so once he gets out, I'll make sure I'm helping him through it a little bit."
What's the injury?
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 refracture 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. James' foot is in a walking boot for now as he begins to rehabilitate.
The Chargers placed James on injured reserve to start the season, which means he must miss the first eight games.
"We have a window to bring him back later in the season," Chargers GM Tom Telesco said. "Right now I don't have a good feel for that yet, but it's going to be pretty far down the line."
What's the prognosis?
ESPN injury analyst and licensed physical therapist Stephania Bell said when James returns, whether it's at the end of the season or in 2020, the Chargers can expect the playmaking safety to get back to his explosive ways.
"Knowing that he had this second procedure following a Jones fracture, I think his prognosis is excellent," Bell said. "It's a more robust procedure. It's more involved, which is why the recovery takes longer. But the return to activity rates are excellent, the return to play. There really are virtually no complications.
"When you talk about surgery and recovery, you don't want to speak in absolutes, but there's virtually zero refracture rates after these. It just hasn't happened, so he should be in good shape."
Bell said part of the recovery process for Jones early on is to make sure he doesn't have any setbacks, trying to do too much too soon.
"You have to protect it until that bone really heals," Bell said. "So as long as you are following what the healing guidelines are, the instructions from the surgeon and what the parameters are, he should be fine by just doing the rehab and progressing appropriately. There's no reason to think he'll have any issues going forward."
What's the timetable for James' return?
The typical time frame for James' injury is three to four months, which means he could be back at the end of November at the earliest.
"The actual time for return to play can vary," Bell said. "I think that's why they've kept the timeline a little bit loose. I think they'll see as he goes along if he looks like a candidate to return to play or not, but whether it takes him a little longer or a little shorter, he should be in great shape going forward for the rest of his NFL career."
Bell added that, given the option, it sounds like surgery was the best path to recovery for James.
"If they have had a prior procedure and there's a screw in place, they can refracture the bone, but the screw is there offering some stabilization," she said. "But again, it's unique to each individual because it depends on how it looks, what exactly was going on -- details that we don't have."
Bell also noted the importance of James selecting the right footwear when he returns to the field, although I'm told the Florida State product's selection of cleats did not factor into his injury.
"It's certainly one of the things that the NFL and the foot and ankle committee in the NFL has been looking at," Bell said. "There's been a pretty high incidence of these Jones fractures, and so they are really trying to educate players on what is the best footwear for their foot, their particular anatomy and their position -- kind of all the different variables -- and make sure they are in the best shoe that supports their foot.
"In some cases the shoe that they are wearing may have been part of the risk factor. It may have not been the only thing, but certainly a part of it."