Chargers safety Jahleel Addae is entering his fourth year in the league, and he hopes this one is his best yet.
"I feel a lot more comfortable out there," Addae said after Monday's practice. "The game has slowed down tremendously for me. It just feels good. I’m playing football at the most comfortable level I've played the last three seasons."
The hard-hitting safety, who entered the league as an undrafted rookie, is now a veteran in the locker room. With the maturity comes responsibility and leadership -- something Addae, 26, welcomes.
"A lot of the rookies come to me," Addae said. "They do lean on me. I just give them what I know. What I learned from [Eric] Weddle, what I learned from being in this system for going on four years. I think I'm helping them pretty well."
The 5-10, 195-pound Florida native totaled 151 tackles, seven passes defensed, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries throughout his 40-game career. With the departure of Weddle this past offseason, Addae is expected to start opposite newcomer Dwight Lowery, and joins a secondary that includes Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers, Darrell Stuckey, Craig Mager and Casey Hayward.
"We're all coming together and gelling as one and we're making this defense a whole," Addae said. "The group is so tight. From the DB's, to the linebackers, to the D-line. We're so tight. We hang out off the field and that’s the big thing. We don’t just hang out Monday through Friday or whatever it is and work out and practice and go home. We actually hang out.
"We've got love for each other," he added. "We're competing as one. We're competing on who has the most picks ... We get excited for each other. No one's hating on the next man. And when you compete against one another, compete against yourself, it brings out your A-game."
As Addae looks to embrace a starting role and a heavier workload, he also looks toward another goal: Playing all 16 games. The physical safety sustained multiple injuries throughout his career and is doing what he can to keep health on his side.
"I love contact," Addae said. "I love imposing my will back there. But I know I've gotta play smart. I've been hearing that since I came into the league. I've got to pick and choose my hits and my battles. My biggest goal is to play all 16 [games]. I've been working out, I've been lifting. I'm feeling good physically and I feel like I'll be able to do that."