LA Chargers News

Could Jahleel Addae emerge as a leader in the secondary?

Dec 24, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) is sacked by San Diego Chargers strong safety Jahleel Addae (37) during the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 24, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) is sacked by San Diego Chargers strong safety Jahleel Addae (37) during the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
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Jahleel Addae calls himself “The Hitman.”

If you’ve seen the way he plays, you’ll understand why. He’s the hard-hitting safety who makes those lightning-like hits (pun was intended).

You need a guy like that on defense, one who will strike fear into opposing offenses. Addae is that guy, but can he be more than that?

Longtime Charger Eric Weddle is long gone. He was the leader in the secondary. Cornerback Jason Verrett is the upcoming star, but the energetic Addae could take over the role as head honcho in the back-end. Ex-Colt Dwight Lowery was signed in the offseason to replace Weddle, and while the 30-year-old journeyman is the oldest of the gang, Addae is a familiar face.

An undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan in 2013, Addae worked his way into the starting lineup early on (two starts his rookie year and five starts his sophomore year). In 2015, he had the most starts (12) at safety among those still on the roster, which include Darrell Stuckey and Adrian Phillips.

Addae, 26, has the passion and work ethic that coaches love. Unfortunately, his play on the field has been underwhelming. According to Pro Football Focus, Addae finished as the fourth-worst safety last season.

Health and inconsistencies in tackling and covering have been a problem. Even though he finished with a career-high 64 total tackles (his 54 solo tackles ranked third on the team) last season, Addae’s style of going shoulder/head first has led to injuries as well as missed tackles. He comes in as hot as a superhero landing. Also, he did not have an interception or force a fumble.

The Chargers believe in Addae. They gave him a second-round tender and then signed him to a one-year, $2.553 million contract in March. He’s already a vocal player who brings a much-needed aggressive attitude to the team. With a revamped front seven, his play should improve. But whether or not he becomes an above-average safety is truly up to him.

But it’s now or never for the four-year veteran. Addae will likely be at the top of the depth chart come training camp, but new players like CFL-standout Dexter McCoil and 2016 undrafted free agent Adrian McDonald will be looking to take over should Addae fail to perform at a high level.

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