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Division play begins Sunday

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Spelled out on the wall inside the Chargers’ weight room is a message the players see every day as they work to improve.

    “Winning championships starts in your own division,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said as he quoted the slogan verbatim. “We have to take care of our own division. We have to make sure, when it comes to these next three game, we have to be ready to play a complete game. We have to be ready to go the extra mile.”

    The Chargers begin a key three-week stretch Sunday in which they’ll face their three AFC West foes in successive weeks. It starts with a Chiefs team coming off an emotional win a week ago. After this week, the Bolts will travel to Denver and then come home to face Oakland. First and foremost, the Chargers’ focus is taking care of business against Kansas City in order to get on the right track in AFC West play.

    “We know how much this game weighs in getting to where we want to be,” Head Coach Norv Turner said. “It’s a divisional game. We all know how critical it is. It’s in the division and we’re coming back home after a couple weeks on the road. We’re playing a team that came back in the second half last week and won. They’re a hungry team, just like we are.”

    A big reason for the Bolts’ regular-season success over the last three seasons has been their play in the division. Since 2004, the Chargers are 13-5 against AFC West and are 8-1 at home against division opponents.

    “We always consider division games to count more like one-and-a-half games, so it’s very important to win your division games if you want to get to the playoffs,” defensive tackle Jamal Williams said. “We know that we have a lot of competition in the West, so we’ve got to step up our game.”

    The AFC West has long been one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. Since the league realigned in 2002, all four members of the AFC West have won at least one division title, but no team has claimed back-to-back crowns. This season the Chargers are looking to become the first team to do that.

    “No matter what else happens, if you win your division games you’re most likely going to be in the playoffs,” fullback Lorenzo Neal said. “We’ve got a tough one this week with the Chiefs, but we all understand how important it is. We’ve had a great week of practice and we feel ready to go.”

    Nice call
    When the Chargers’ plane landed in San Diego Sunday following their trip home from Green Bay, wide receiver Buster Davis had a number of messages on his cell phone, but one stood out.

    “(Chiefs receiver) Dwayne (Bowe) called to congratulate me on scoring my first touchdown,” Davis said. “He got his first one a week before me, but I thought it was real cool that he called me. I’m looking forward to catching up with him this weekend.”

    Davis remains very close friends with his former LSU teammate and fellow first-round draft pick. The two have chatted throughout the week, and Davis hopes Bowe will have time between Saturday evening meetings to see his new San Diego home. Davis is grateful for the friendly competition he and his former teammate shared during their time in Baton Rouge.

    “I know I’m a better player because I had someone like that pushing me through my college career,” Davis said. “We had a lot of great players (at LSU) and we all pushed each other. People always tried to compare me and Dwayne and try to figure out which one was better. We never got into that. We just wanted to play. That’s how it’s going to be on Sunday.”

    Both the Chargers and Chiefs have received early returns on their investments. Bowe has caught touchdown passes in each of his last two games and has 10 receptions for 135 yards on the season. Davis had a nice afternoon last week at Green Bay as he hauled in four passes for 33 yards and his first-career touchdown.

    “I think last week was a big step for (Davis),” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “He’s going to continue to get better and take off. I think that was a big step in his progression, getting some catches in a big-time game and in a tight game and really doing well. He looked like he’d done it a million times.”

    Wilhelm out, Castillo probable

    Defensive end Luis Castillo (foot) fully participated in practice for the second-consecutive day and is listed as probable for Sunday’s game. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson (back) also fully participated and is probably as well.

    Linebacker Matt Wilhelm (calf) is officially listed as out and will miss his second-consecutive game. Carlos Polk will start in his place.

    For the Chiefs, running back Larry Johnson (hamstring) practiced for the first time this week and is listed as probable. Starting wide receiver Eddie Kennison (hamstring) will miss his third-consecutive game as he is listed as out.

    Notable

    - Wide receiver Vincent Jackson posted career highs in both catches (six) and receiving yards (98) last week against the Packers.

    - Sunday will be Neal’s 212<SUP>th</SUP>-consecutive game, a streak that dates back to Week 1 of the 1994 season.

    - Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna’s father Frank played linebacker for the Chiefs from 1979-81.

    - Linebacker Carlos Polk was credited with three special teams tackles at Green Bay and now leads the team with six on the season.

    - Dick Enberg and Randy Cross will call the action for Sunday’s Chargers-Chiefs matchup on CBS.

    - The Chargers will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Sunday’s game.

    By Casey Pearce, Chargers.com
     

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