COSTA MESA, Calif. — Speaking to reporters on Thursday for the first time since he was ejected from a Week 16 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts for a hit that sent him and Colts wide receiver Ashton Dulin into concussion protocol, Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. was insistent that he is “not a dirty player.”
James was ejected in the second quarter of the 20-3 victory after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Dulin, who went into the locker room following the play and was ruled out because of a concussion.
“I was kind of trying to line him up and turn my shoulder in that moment, and it was happening so fast that I ended up catching a little bit of his shoulder with my face,” said James, adding that he felt “surprised” by his ejection.
“I feel like the flag was OK, but ejection — that’s different,” James said.
As part of its internal review of plays, the NFL agreed with the personal foul call on James for unnecessary roughness due to forcible contact with the helmet and considered suspending him but opted against it, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
“I’m not a dirty player,” said James, who before the season signed a four-year, $76.5 million contract extension to become the highest-paid safety in NFL history. “If you look at how I play every week, I’m not out to hurt nobody. I don’t play the game that way. I wasn’t taught the game that way. I’m trying to play fast and aggressive for my team and make a play.”
James, who also was placed into concussion protocol following the play, said that he has felt “100 percent” since the hit.
He is expected to return to the lineup Sunday for the 10-6 Chargers, who have secured their first playoff berth in four seasons and could clinch the No. 5 seed with a victory over the 4-12 Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium.
“I’ve been good,” said James, who was inactive in a Week 17 31-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. “I just have been taking my time and following every step of the protocol.”
In 13 games this season, James has 109 tackles, five pass deflections, four sacks and a pair of interceptions and forced fumbles. He was voted to a second consecutive Pro Bowl, the third of his career.