On a star-studded defense that includes the likes of Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Melvin Ingram and Casey Hayward, a little-known safety for the Los Angeles Chargers could be the key cog that helps slow down an explosive Kansas City Chiefs offense led by Patrick Mahomes.
Versatile safety Adrian Phillips’ unique skill set allows the Chargers to play a smaller, speedier personnel group that helps contain potent passing games, yet still holds up against the run.cheap nfl jerseys china nike
Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said Phillips is one of the most cerebral players that he has coached — high praise considering that group includes Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Derrick Brooks.
That intelligence allows the University of Texas product to play several positions on the field.
On Thursday, the Chargers will need Phillips and the rest of the defense to help slow down a Kansas City offense that has recorded a league-high 87 explosive plays (runs of 16-plus yards or passing plays of 20-plus yards).
“First of all, he’s extremely intelligent,” Bradley said. “He can play strong safety, free safety, dime [linebacker] and nickel [linebacker] for us, and we’d feel extremely comfortable if he was in any of those positions.
“So that intelligence, he’s got a football IQ that is, to say compare him to anybody, he’s just one of the most elite guys in that area that I’ve ever been around.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
Phillips, 26, got an opportunity to play last year because injuries at linebacker forced Bradley to think out of the box, using a 5-foot-11, 210-pound backup safety as a linebacker in obvious passing situations.
By happenstance the Chargers turned a weakness into a strength, creating a hybrid safety-linebacker in Phillips.
The fourth-year pro has totaled 63 combined tackles, eight pass breakups and an interception in 474 defensive snaps this season.
“When I sit back and think about where I’ve been and how far I’ve come, it’s just all been a blessing,” Phillips said. “It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t smooth sailing. There were a lot of nights that I was frustrated and trying to find my way.
“But to be where I’m at now, I wouldn’t change any of that because it made me the player and person I am now.”