Chargers safety Derwin James closing in on starting gig

Despite missing the start of training camp due to a hamstring injury, Los Angeles Chargers first-round rookie Derwin James is in line to lock down a Week 1 starting gig.

"That's what we're looking at right now," defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said, via the Los Angeles Times. "We can't show our hand too much."

James inexplicably slid down draft boards to land in the Chargers' lap at No. 17 overall, a gift for the Los Angeles franchise that owned a glaring hole at the position.

"I see him as a natural leader," Bradley said of James. "I think he's finding his place. But, at times, he can't help himself. That's who he is. He leads. I love his personality. He's got a great spirit about him.

"As he gains confidence in what he's doing, it will be even more. He's already talking ... very animated. He's got a lot of energy. I think that personality will show more once he gains more confidence in the system."

James has flashed this preseason, including Saturday's interception of Drew Brees. The rookie has played 106 snaps through three preseason games, most of any L.A. defender, as the Chargers try to immerse their first-rounder.

"There is going to be a learning curve," Bradley said. "I think he'll go out and make a mistake here and there, but he'll also make some splash plays."

James has the talent to be a steal of the draft. A player of his caliber falling that far still seems inexplicable. The rookie can play all over the formation and owns the ball skills to create turnovers for a Chargers secondary that has the talent to be among the best in the NFL.

While starting seemed a foregone conclusion for James since he was drafted, the rookie isn't settling for that; he wants much more.

"I'm not just trying to start," James said. "I'm trying to make plays. It's more than just earning a starting job. Now, what are you going to do with it?"

A clear preseason Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate, James will have the opportunity and platform to do much more than simply be a starting safety.