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Derwin James (foot) eyes post-bye return: 'Stay tuned'

With the Los Angeles Chargers' playoff hopes dwindling by the week, they need all the help they can get to stay relevant in the AFC.

It appears they'll receive just that when the Bolts come out of their Week 12 bye.

Derwin James, who has missed the entirety of the 2019 season while on injured reserve and recovering from a stress fracture in his foot, is expected to return to the team shortly. The three-month recovery timeline given at the time of his surgery in August is wrapping up, and the safety sounds like he's prepping for a late-season return to the field.

"I'm feeling well, feeling better, getting better every day," James told NFL Network's Lindsay Rhodes on Tuesday's edition of NFL Total Access. "Just taking it day-by-day. It's real close, real soon. I can say that. So just taking it day-by-day. Working hard to get back out there."

Asked whether he expects to be back on the active roster for Los Angeles' Week 13 game against the Denver Broncos, James responded with a smile, "Stay tuned."

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that James will play once he is medically cleared by team doctors regardless of the Chargers' record.

"If we got healthy players as good as DJ, if he can play, he's gonna play," Lynn said, per Southern California News Group. "We're not tanking, guys. We're 4-7. Last time I checked we have five games left."

The Chargers finish their 2019 campaign with games against Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Oakland and Kansas City, teams with a combined record of 28-24.

A Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro in his rookie season in 2018, James was supposed to be the secondary lynchpin of a Chargers defense already bolstered by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram in the front seven. His August setback was a disappointing development for all who enjoyed his play in 2018, but especially the Bolts. 

James' potential midseason addition to Los Angeles' middle-of-the-road pass defense would surely help. But whether his return, when it comes, is enough to propel a Chargers charge into the postseason is an entirely different matter.

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