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Rivers rolls on as Chargers' No. 1 QB

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, May 15, 2006.

  1. robdog
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    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: Associated Press
    <img width="292" height="147" alt="Philip Rivers" id="image2067" src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/03/343_philip.jpg" />
    By Bernie Wilson

    SAN DIEGO – Monday marked a milestone in Philip Rivers' NFL career, even if it was just glorified touch football.

    Rivers was finally in charge after two years as a bench warmer, leading the San Diego Chargers through their first workout since he became the starting quarterback.

    "I've been kind of eager for this day to get here just to get back out on the field knowing the last organized play I ran left a bad taste in my mouth," Rivers said after the first of 14 "voluntary" offseason workouts, conducted in shorts, jerseys and helmets.

    "I thought it was a good first day for all of us. The tempo was good, the attitude was great and we threw the ball around pretty good," Rivers said.

    The last time Rivers was under center he was mopping up for Drew Brees, who was hurt in a loss to Denver in a meaningless season finale. Brees needed surgery for a dislocated throwing shoulder, became damaged goods in the eyes of the Chargers and was allowed to leave as a free agent, signing with the New Orleans Saints.

    After making an NCAA-record 51 starts at North Carolina State, Rivers sat behind Brees the last two years. Rivers appeared in four games, with zero starts.

    Being No. 1 on the depth chart "feels a little different," Rivers said. "These last two years, a part of me was missing a little bit because you had to take a little bit of a back seat, and rightly so, in certain areas."

    To say that Rivers has some work to do is an understatement. He's thrown one career touchdown pass, which puts him three behind Pro Bowl running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Rivers has thrown just 30 passes as a pro, or about one for every trade rumor that surfaced during the last two seasons.

    And he takes over a team that fell far short of expectations last year. After winning the AFC West with a 12-4 record in 2004, the Chargers collapsed in December and finished 9-7, missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons.

    Coach Marty Schottenheimer recounted how wide receiver Keenan McCardell stood up at a team meeting on Sunday night to say that the players have confidence in Rivers.

    "He's a guy that I think everybody around here feels like he's one of the guys," McCardell said Monday. "At that position, you can kind of be a guy who distances yourself from your teammates and be a prima donna. You've heard about some quarterbacks being that way. But Philip's not that type of guy. He realizes that he's one of the guys. Everyone in the locker room feels that, and it makes for an easy transition."

    Said Rivers: "I still feel like I have some respect and trust to earn these next couple of months. I don't want anything to be handed or given to me in that respect. But to already know that they feel that way, it means a lot. When you hear a guy like Keenan say that, it does nothing but add to the confidence."

    Tomlinson said Rivers won't have to take everything on his shoulders this season.

    "I really believe we have enough veterans on this team to be able to take some of the pressure off Philip where he doesn't feel like he has go in and pass for 300 yards a game," Tomlinson said.

    Rivers will have to make his biggest strides when other teams force the Chargers to pass, Tomlinson said.

    "You know, where they're going to put nine men in the box and say, 'You know what, you're not going to run the football.' We're still going to have to throw the football, but that's where Philip's going to have to make some plays for us. And he's going to be able to do that.

    "I'm telling you, The guy is smart," Tomlinson added. "He knows where to go with the football, and at times like that, if people do that to us, then they are going to be surprised at the way Philip is able to hurt them. It all balances out. If they do, then we start to open up things in the passing game, then they back up, then we start back running the football."

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