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Chargers DC Jesse Minter wants to 'unleash' Derwin James in 2024 

New Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Jesse Minter plans to employ a versatile scheme that will coax the best out of his players.

When hearing Minter discuss his concepts, one name that immediately jumps to mind is Chargers' do-it-all safety Derwin James. The 27-year-old is coming off a down season after back-to-back Pro Bowl nods. Like most of the Chargers' defense last season, James uncharacteristically missed opportunities and didn't have nearly the number of splashy plays we're used to seeing.

Minter, who joined Jim Harbaugh in L.A. after two seasons as Michigan's defensive coordinator, said he's looking forward to deploying the multifaceted James.

"I'm really, really excited about Derwin and I've gotten a chance to get to know him a little bit, just an unbelievable person, unbelievable leader," Minter told the team's official website. "The type of mindset that we want to have here on defense is really kind of how he plays already. I'm excited just to sort of try to try to unleash Derwin."

Minter believes the key to unleashing a player like James is allowing him to play on instinct and not overloading concepts. He noted that sometimes, with a versatile player, coaches can go overboard with how they use the chess piece.

"No. 1, put him in positions to best utilize his skills and -- he can do a lot of stuff -- but I also think there's a fine line," Minter said. "Like, 'Let's try to maximize Derwin and allow him to do the things that he's really, really good at as much as possible.' Sometimes you can get a guy like that and you can almost do too much with him and move him around too much. I want him to understand the concepts of the defense so that there's certainly times that we can maximize his skillset. I think he can really affect the game in a lot of ways. He's a dynamic blitzer, he's dynamic close to the ball. An elite cover guy, particularly on tight ends. And then he's a physical presence over the middle of the field at the safety position."

The Chargers enter the offseason with a host of questions on defense, where they've spent money in recent seasons with little success. Getting James back on track is critical to answering those queries as the big-money safety enters the second year of a four-year extension signed in 2022.

"We want to put him in a position to use his strengths and do all that stuff to the best of his ability," Minter said. "But really just most excited about his leadership skills, his eagerness. I feel like he stopped by my office every day the first couple of weeks I was here. He just wanted to talk and wanted to kind of get to know me and what we were trying to build. I like to look at it as a partnership with these guys. Now we're in this thing together, we're building this thing together. Really excited about Derwin and the capabilities he has."

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