COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Joey Bosa has been one of the NFL’s best in at least two areas during his six-year career — chasing down quarterbacks and talking trash about them. He’s done plenty of both to Las Vegas’ Derek Carr.
The Chargers outside linebacker and Raiders QB will renew their rivalry on Sunday night with an AFC playoff spot on the line. Bosa is looking to help the Bolts into the postseason for the second time in four years.
“These are the kinds of games that you wish you were playing this time of year — and we are this year. It’s just a great opportunity for both sides. I think we all grasp that, for sure,” Bosa said.
Of Bosa’s 57 sacks, seven have come against Carr, including one in the Chargers’ 28-14 victory on Oct. 4. Bosa said after the game that Carr “was pretty much curling into a ball” during one of Los Angeles’ four sacks.
Bosa tried to clarify his Week 4 remarks on Thursday by noting he has plenty of respect for Carr.
“He’s one of the top passers in the league. I wouldn’t really like somebody that plants their shoulder into me for a living, so I don’t see how he would really like me,” Bosa said. “I wouldn’t if I was him, but I think we both have respect for each other and we always like competing against each other.”
Carr, who goes into Sunday night with a 7-8 record against the Chargers, said he respects Bosa, too.
“He’s one of the best in the world. And it’s the nature of the defensive line position to be aggressive. And that’s how he is. I’ll probably trash talk with him more,” he said. “But I think the world of Joey. I think the part we missed, he said I was a great player and a great dude. I think we should talk about that stuff instead of the negative stuff because I think the world of him.”
Bosa, who was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time, is having another stellar season despite having to adjust to first-year coach Brandon Staley’s 3-4 scheme. Bosa has remained healthy, only missing one game — Dec. 26 at Houston after he tested positive for COVID-19.
While Bosa feels as if he is in the best shape at the end of a season since his rookie year of 2016, what pleases his more is his mastery of his role. He has even adjusted to dropping back into pass coverage a couple times per game.
“To make it this far and be productive and still be healthy — playing hard, working hard at this point of the season, I’m honestly really proud of what I’ve accomplished this year,” he said. “It’s not the best thing I’ve ever put on tape all-around, but I think I’ve had some really, really good games and rushed really well.”
Despite being out for nearly two weeks, Bosa played 51 of the Chargers’ 60 defensive snaps in last Sunday’s 34-13 win over Denver.
Bosa said he was winded at times, but still wasn’t going to let a quarterback’s trash talk get the best of him. Denver’s Drew Lock looked right at Bosa following one play during the third quarter and said, “He’s tired. He’s tired.” The Broncos tried running directly at Bosa the next play and he stopped Melvin Gordon for a 4-yard loss.
Bosa goes into Sunday’s regular-season finale seventh in the AFC with 9 1/2 sacks and ninth in quarterback hits with 20. He has a league-leading six strip-sacks after having five in his first five years combined.
“It takes time for that muscle memory to get there,” Bosa said. “For me, getting sacks, I guess earlier on in my career, I was too nervous to let the guy go, so I’d just wrap them up and try to get them down and forget going for the ball. Now, I think more than anything, it’s just a mindset — always thinking about it. It’s how you really change the game, if you’re able to get those turnovers.”
NOTES: Center Corey Linsley was a full participant in Thursday’s practice. He left last Sunday’s game during the first quarter and did not practice on Wednesday.
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