Versatile Derwin James Is a Prototypical N.F.L. Defender

As offenses have grown increasingly complex, teams have looked for defensive players who can do a little bit of everything.

COSTA MESA, Calif. — As Derwin James recovered from his second significant injury in back-to-back seasons, the Los Angeles Chargers safety found an unexpected way to help him remain one of the most versatile defenders in the N.F.L.

He played video games.

For two hours a day last season, James played “Madden 21,” the N.F.L. video game developed by EA Sports. Playing the game was fun, he said, but it also helped him see what his job is all about — flexibility.

“It really carried with me,” James said in an interview. “Things

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