http://www.chargers.com/news/headline_detail.cfm?news_key=2381 Earlier this week, the Chargers rewarded offensive tackle Roman Oben with a two-year contract extension. When the deal was announced, Oben wasn’t the only one grinning ear to ear. “At that left tackle position, he’s my best buddy,” said quarterback Drew Brees. “He’s big. He’s a tough cookie. He’s a guy who is dependable. I’m extremely pleased in the organization’s decision to keep him around.” Brees’ comment about his admiration comes from the fact that Oben has provided a pillar of stability while protecting the quarterback’s backside over the course of the last season and a half. Ask many personnel directors around the NFL and they’ll most likely tell you that next to the quarterback, the left tackle is the most important position in an offense. “A high percentage of the time, the quarterback doesn’t see what’s happening right behind him,” Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil said. “When you have a left tackle that can block somebody one-on-one consistently through the season, not just in one game, it gives the quarterback a sense of security that he can focus and concentrate downfield.” Not only are left tackles routinely asked to win one-on-one match ups in the passing game, they’re also asked to do so against some of the game’s elite defenders. Top-notch ends such as Miami’s Jason Taylor, John Abraham of the New York Jets and Philadelphia’s Jevon Kearse all play on the right side of the defensive line against left tackles. “Many times you have your best pass rusher at defensive right end,” Vermeil said. “When he is nullified, that’s an advantage to the offense.” Oben has provided the Chargers with that protection since coming to San Diego last June. He’s started all 23 regular-season games as well as January’s playoff contest against the Jets. In addition, he’s never missed a practice during the regular season as well. His drive is one of the things that has helped him enjoy 10 productive seasons in the NFL. “It’s just a personal pride thing,” Oben said. “I don’t think I’m good enough to go out there and play well without practicing. Preparation is the number one thing that has allowed me to be successful.” If you want evidence on how important a reliable left tackle is to an offense, look no further than the Chiefs, the team the Chargers host at Qualcomm Stadium this weekend. Kansas City left tackle Willie Roaf is a 10-time Pro Bowler. This season the 320 pounder has missed some time due a hamstring injury. When Roaf is in the lineup, the Chiefs are 3-0. Without him, they’re just 1-2. “He’s been one of the best in the league for more than a decade,” Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer said of Roaf. “They run that sweep where Roaf is out in front, and he’s knocking people on the ground all day. He obviously does a remarkable job in the passing game as well.” The Chargers have prioritized locking up their players. Guys like Jamal Williams, Keenan McCardell, Steve Foley, LaDainian Tomlinson and others have received also received extensions in the past 18 months. “A.J. (Smith) believes in taking care of guys who take care of him,” Oben said. “I’m grateful for that.” Added Brees, “Especially considering what Roman does and the position that he plays, I’m so grateful to know that he’s going to be here for a while. He’s a great leader. He’s a great guy to have around. He’s a veteran guy who has won a championship and knows what it takes.” Still Special Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer spent 10 years as the head coach in Kansas City and although he’s played the Chief eight times since leaving the Midwest, it’s still a special match up for him. “They have a lot of people there that I consider close friends and people that I have a lot of respect and admiration for,” Schottenheimer said. “You enjoy seeing those people. Obviously throughout our preparation here and game day, it’s clearly about enjoying the day and prevailing if you can.” Schottenheimer is 3-3 against his old club since joining the Chargers. Injuries Tight end Ryan Krause (foot) did not practice Wednesday and will miss another week of action. Linebacker Donnie Edwards (knee), linebacker Steve Foley (abdominal), linebacker Randall Godfrey (neck), center Nick Hardwick (ankle) and guard Mike Goff (ankle) all missed practice Wednesday and are questionable. Tight end Antonio Gates left practice with a thigh bruise and is also questionable for the Chiefs. Cornerback Sammy Davis (ribs), cornerback Drayton Florence (ankle), kicker Nate Kaeding (back) and offensive tackle Shane Olivea (back) are also questionable but did practice Wednesday. Close Call If recent history repeats itself, Sunday’s contest should be a close one. Eight of the last nine games between the Chargers and Chiefs have been decided by seven points or less.