Joey Bosa has been worth the wait.
The Chargers rookie defensive end, who engaged in an infamously long contract holdout during the offseason, finally played his first professional snaps in Week 5 after sitting out the first four games with a hamstring injury. Rest has done the rook good.
Since taking the field, the end has racked up four sacks and nine tackles in three games, rushing his way past tackles with an acceleration atypical to his position. Rookie pass rushers aren’t supposed to dominate NFL-sized offensive lines this early in their career, but Bosa presents a unique situation.
Having sat out much of training camp and the start of the regular season to get his contract and his body right, the third overall pick is both well-rested and healthy, a dangerous combination at this point in the season. Plus, the rookie defensive end says he isn’t straining his body like he was at Ohio State.
“I look back at Ohio State,” he told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “and I see I wasn’t flying around as much as I should have been. But it has partly to do with the fact that I was playing 80 plays (per game) almost.“
In college, the snaps come quicker, thanks to an absence of professional huddles and an offensive focus on wearing out defenses unable to adapt on the fly. In the bigs, that’s not necessarily the case, at least it hasn’t been for Bosa.
Bosa has played 27, 56 and 47 snaps in each of his first three games — that he recorded two sacks in his short first outing is nothing short of astounding. Even with those smaller snap totals, he’s still been the Chargers‘ workhorse — his 56 snaps against the Broncos on a short week was the most of any San Diego defensive lineman.
“During the game, I think, I definitely have better wind,” Bosa added, “and I’m giving 100 percent more on every single play.”
The rookie is churning at a different rate in the NFL. With less snaps and more time to rest and recover briefly on the sidelines, Bosa is reaching his potential and reaping the benefits.