COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill had a broad smile on Thursday, not just because of how his unit has performed over the past three games.
Hill was giddy because Joey Bosa returned to practice for the first time in three months.
Bosa took part in 15 practice snaps after he was designated to return from injured reserve. The seventh-year linebacker has missed the last 12 games after tearing his right groin on Sept. 25 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I have a big smile on my face any time somebody mentions Joey. I know what it brings to this team,” Hill said.
The playoff-bound Chargers (9-6) have 21 days to activate Bosa off injured reserve. It could happen by Sunday when they host the Rams.
“Feeling confident, feeling good,” Bosa said. “I’m going to take it one day at a time and let the coaches decide on that.”
Los Angeles wraps up the regular season on Jan. 8 at Denver. Bosa said he made it a point not to return until he felt confident that he could perform in a game instead of practice.
Bosa added that he had been dealing with groin and core muscle injuries the past two seasons, mostly on his left side.
The groin tear to his right side was due to him overcompensating. Bosa said the surgery repaired injuries on both sides. He added that the injuries made simple tasks difficult, like picking something up off the floor.
“I came in saying that I was feeling as good as I was in a long time, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to feel good and push things the way I want to,” he said.
While Bosa's conditioning isn’t in midseason form, having him and Khalil Mack on the field is a matchup problem for any offense.
In the Sept. 11 season opener against Las Vegas, Bosa and Mack combined for 4 1/2 sacks, 16 quarterback pressures and 10 QB hits, two of which resulted in turnovers.
Bosa returns to a Chargers defense that has allowed a total of 34 points over the past three games while posting 13 sacks.
“You know that he is going to be able to get to the quarterback with his pass rush, take some of the chips off of Khalil that he has been experiencing all year,” Hill said of Bosa. “He’s able to move guys around to different spots and try to free up some guys. He opens up a lot of things for different people on this defense. That’s when you want things clicking because you know they have to account for all 11.”
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