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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 28, 2006.

  1. robdog
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    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a>

    <img width="253" height="223" align="left" alt="Shawne Merriman celebrates one of this three sacks." title="Shawne Merriman celebrates one of this three sacks." src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/061029rams/KC_ChargersRams189crop.jpg" />The Chargers embraced Shawne Merriman on Monday, the first day he was able to visit the team facility after testing positive for steroids.
    <p class="inside-copy">Merriman, the NFL defensive rookie of the year in 2005, was sidelined for four games after failing a drug test. Merriman had 8.5 sacks before being penalized and appeared on his way to his second Pro Bowl invitation in as many years.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Now that Merriman is back, one of the NFL's top defenses will be that much better as it heads for Buffalo this weekend.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "I always feel that I have 100 percent love for the game," Merriman said. "But when you are taken away from it, you are that much more hungrier, and it's hard to believe. I have more hunger than I did before because when they take away the game from you, you really understand what the game is about."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Merriman looked fit and fresh after a month off. The Chargers missed his game-changing presence, but the team did go 4-0 when he was sidelined.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"Not to say we didn't miss him, but we did all we could do," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We couldn't do anything more than win four, and we got that done.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"But he will certainly lend a hand in keeping this roll going and winning games. He's going to be fresh, that is for sure. He will be fresh and ready to go, and I'm sure his mind-set will be trying to make up for lost time, especially this week."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Merriman adds fuel to a defense that had five sacks in Sunday's win over the Raiders and leads the NFL with 41.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Merriman was docked about $73,000 in base salary and missed four of the most thrilling games the Chargers had played in recent memory.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"It's a hard less to learn, no doubt about it," Merriman said. "I took it on the chin, that's what I did, take it on the chin."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers were just 2-for-11 on third downs against Oakland, and WR Eric Parker was responsible for both of the conversions with catches.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-San Diego had a franchise-best 14 sacks in its two-game series with the Raiders.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers have won 10 consecutive November games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB LaDainian Tomlinson is two TD passes shy of Walter Payton's mark for a non-quarterback. Tomlinson threw the sixth of his career Sunday, a 19-yarder to TE Antonio Gates.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-For the first time this season, CBs Drayton Florence and Quentin Jammer had interceptions in the same game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-There's a new sack leader among the Chargers, and his name isn't Shawne Merriman. LB Shaun Phillips had 1.5 of the team's five sacks, giving him 9.5 on the year - a half-sack more than Merriman. "I honestly wish I could have gotten a couple more," Phillips said. "I felt we could have gotten a couple more as a unit. (But) Aaron Brooks is an illusive quarterback, and he was able to make a couple of good plays running around."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Here's what Schottenheimer was thinking in the wake of WR Vincent Jackson's spiking of the ball, which nearly returned possession to the Raiders. "What in the world are you thinking about?" he said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-QB Philip Rivers never did achieve a real comfort level in the pocket. "I was just out of whack, speeded up a little bit," he said. "I left the pocket a couple of times when I didn't need to. You hope you don't have this kind of game, (but) we still came away with a win."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Sunday's trip will be the final regular-season one for the Chargers away from the West Coast. The Chargers final road game on Christmas Eve is in Seattle.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Luis Castillo (ankle) could miss his fourth consecutive game. Coach Marty Schottenheimer didn't sound confident about Castillo playing on the artificial turf in Buffalo on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Keenan McCardell (calf) should be able to go this week after missing the Oakland game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LG Kris Dielman (ankle) is hopeful about practicing later in the week. He was a late scratch Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Backup CB Cletis Gordon was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence early Monday morning in San Diego.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-FS Marlon McCree (calf) should play this week after not being able to go Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB LaDainian Tomlinson now has 24 touchdowns, four off the NFL single-season record set last year by Seattle RB Shaun Alexander.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-If Michael Turner (hamstring) is fit, coach Marty Schottenheimer expects him to remain the kick returner over Antonio Cromartie.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">REPORT CARD VS. RAIDERS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASSING OFFENSE: C - Philip Rivers struggled more than he had at any time this season. He was jumpy in the pocket, and his normal accuracy was way off. He completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes and had no touchdowns and an interception. The day's best Chargers pass came from LaDainian Tomlinson, when he lofted a 19-yard scoring toss to Antonio Gates to tie the score. The Chargers also dropped a couple of passes, and Vincent Jackson had a bonehead move when he spiked the ball before he was down by contact. The pass protection was shaky early on but found its feet as the game progressed.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus - Tomlinson ran for 100 yards for the fifth consecutive game and produced two scores on the ground. But the run blocking was suspect, as nearly half of Tomlinson's running yards came on a 44-yard scamper. The Chargers line was missing LG Kris Dielman, and his absence was noted, as that is the direction San Diego usually runs.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASS DEFENSE: C - Quentin Jammer had a killer pass interference call that set up a Raiders touchdown and was beaten for another score. But he did have a key interception that helped turn the tide in the game. Drayton Florence also had a pick, which iced the victory. The pass rush was pretty good with five sacks, and it hassled Aaron Brooks for most the game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSH DEFENSE: A - The Raiders managed just 84 rushing yards, and No. 1 RB Justin Fargas averaged only 2.3 yards on 14 carries. The play of the inside linebackers was stout, as Randall Godfrey had a season-high 13 tackles with a sack, and Donnie Edwards added 11 tackles. The Raiders rushed for only 2 yards in the second half.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">SPECIAL TEAMS: D - The coverages were weak - all you need to know is K Nate Kaeding had a hand in two tackles. But the return game got a boost from rookie Antonio Cromartie, who almost broke one when returning it 91 yards. Nate Kaeding had an odd pooch kickoff that went out of bounds. P Mike Scifres had a typically good game, but the coverages were shoddy and need to be fixed.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">COACHING: A - Marty Schottenheimer's message is still getting across: one play at a time. That was obvious as the Chargers were flat the first half, but they didn't let that bother them in rallying in the second half. Wade Phillips gets some credit, as his defense was nails the second half. The offense was spotty with Rivers' game off, but offensive coordinator Cam Cameron made the perfect call at the perfect time on the halfback pass from Tomlinson to Gates.</p>

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