The Los Angeles Chargers safety will undergo surgery on his foot following evaluations of the stress fracture in his fifth metatarsal, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported, via sources informed of the situation. James is expected to be sidelined a minimum of three months and will be operated on by noted foot and ankle specialist Robert Anderson.
A firmer timeline will be determined after surgery but a return in mid-November is considered a best-case scenario, Garafolo added. That would leave the door open for James to return before the end of the 2019 season, and after a stay on injured reserve.
His absence is still a crushing blow for one of the league's most promising safeties and darkhorse Super Bowl contender.
The Chargers claimed James with the No. 17 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and he immediately became a defensive anchor. James recorded 105 tackles, three interceptions, 13 passes defended and 3.5 sacks to earn Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. The latter made him one of eight rookie defenders to make first-team All-Pro since the 1970 merger, per NFL Research.
Los Angeles will likely lean on utility defender Adrian Phillips to fill the void at strong safety. The sixth-year veteran was third on the Chargers in tackles last season, playing at various spots in the secondary and linebacker. The Chargers are already breaking in a new starter at free safety with third-year veteran Rayshawn Jenkins.