Derwin James was named a first-team All-Pro as a rookie back in 2018. Since then, the Los Angeles Chargers' dynamic safety has been sideswiped by injury.
James played just five games in 2019. He didn't even make it to the starting line in 2020.
James suffered a torn meniscus in late August and was placed on season-ending IR before the start of the campaign.
"It was devastating because I went down the year before kind of in the same spot of the field, the same moment in training camp," James recently told Hayley Elwood of the team's official website. "It kind of hit me again like, no, not again ... I just dealt with it and took the approach of what's next? What do I have to do next? Just get better every day, one percent, and control what you can control ... I had just been through it and knew every part of the rehab process (like) how long it would be and the amount of work and dedication it would take. I just dedicated myself to doing it every day and if it was gonna make me better and stronger, let's do it."
After missing a full season, James is looking forward to getting back on the field in 2021.
"I think I'm about to starve, how hungry I am," he said. "I can't even lie to you. I feel like I just need to eat something. I'm hungry."
James is part of the Chargers core that makes L.A. the top destination among the seven clubs with head coach openings. When he's on the field, James is a ballhawk who can cover in space and flies to the football. When he's healthy, an already good defense becomes great.
The 24-year-old said watching his team in 2020, including rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, makes him excited for the prospects in 2021.
"I learned a lot through this process, just watching Justin Herbert and the amazing players we have on the team," he said. "Guys didn't quit, guys didn't let up and that's all you can ask for. I can't wait to get back out there to help them ... It's that not quitting (mentality that impressed me.) That, 'What's next? OK, we lost a game, let's bounce back. Just having that mentality of the past don't matter, it's what's in front of you."
After missing 27 games over the past two seasons, hopefully, James can finally stay on the field and be part of that quick turnaround in 2021 under a new coaching staff.