Joey Bosa's replacement Darius Philon thriving in first days of Chargers camp

SAN DIEGO – Make the most of your opportunities.

That’s Darius Philon's motto this year. Selected in the sixth round of the 2015 draft by the San Diego Chargers, Philon was considered more of a developmental prospect as a defensive lineman.

But with San Diego’s first-round pick from this year, Joey Bosa, not reporting to camp due to a contract dispute, Philon is getting first-team reps at defensive end and so far has played well.

“Joey is not here, but we’re going to go out there and work extremely hard,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “And someone has to step into his spot and make the most of it.

For the first three days of camp, that someone has been Philon.

“Whether I’m with the starters or the 3s, I’m going to always work at it as I’m taking my last rep,” Philon said. “It doesn’t matter where I go or where I practice, I’m just here to help the team in any way possible.”

During his rookie season, the University of Arkansas product suffered a significant hip injury that required surgery, leaving him in a hospital bed to recover for two weeks.

“It gets to you a lot when you’re lying on that hospital bed,” Philon said. “That’s not what you’re used to doing in the NFL. You want to go out and help those guys out as much as you can. It motivated me a lot.”

Philon was placed on the injured reserve, designated to return by the Chargers on Oct. 17.

Determined to get back on the field, Philon was diligent in his treatment and rehabilitation. He missed seven games, but the result was his healthy return to the field in Week 14.

Philon had a sack in his first game back against the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 13, although it was negated due to a defensive holding penalty.

In eight games Philon did not put up jaw-dropping numbers, with five combined tackles -- including two tackles for loss -- three quarterback hits and a pass blocked.

However, he averaged 21 defensive snaps a contest since his return from the injury, showing steady progress that should lead to continued improvement in his second season.

“It just gave me much more confidence because I knew that I could come back from an injury like that,” Philon said. “It gave me more confidence to go out and get better.”

At 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds, Philon is a much different player than the 6-5, 280-pound Bosa. But in the right system, the quick-twitch Philon could earn a role as a starter. And at 22 years old, Philon still has room for growth.

“I’m very pleased with the way he worked,” McCoy said. “We really liked him last year, but unfortunately he had a very unique injury that you don’t see very often.

“As soon as he had his surgery done last year, about halfway through he said he was ready to go, and I looked at him, smiled and said, ‘C’mon, you can’t play with what you have right now.’

“And then as soon as he came out for the first day of practice from the injury, he said he’s ready to go. And that’s always been his mentality. He had a nice offseason for us, and I’m very pleased with where he’s at today.”