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Chargers keeping in focus

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Team avoiding talk about playoffs for now

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Off to another perfect start to their perfect month, the Chargers know what lies ahead is more difficult than what they came through Sunday in Cleveland.
    “These will be tough,” defensive lineman Travis Johnson said. “Won’t anybody be talking about trap games and all that now.”
    That’s why so much of the focus will be on whether one of the Chargers’ biggest playmakers, Shawne Merriman, and starting defensive end Luis Castillo can return from their respective injuries this week.
    It was one thing to go to Cleveland and win with rookies populating the defense. It’s quite another to do so in Dallas.
    “We have lot of young players playing,” Norv Turner said.
    “I think that’s going to help us over the next month. Hopefully we get some of the guys … back, so we’re not playing as many young guys as we are now.”
    There will also continue to be much focus on the Chargers’ focus.
    With each victory, the Chargers gain confidence and get closer to their goal. But also, the peril grows, and there is a morass to navigate, one in which this team has become entangled before.
    “I don’t really think there is a danger in it other than when people get caught up in it and start talking about the postseason and where we stand,” Philip Rivers said of the Chargers’ seven-game win streak and their overall December success. “As long as we don’t let that talk get in our way, I think we’ll be fine. There’s no denying that the talk is out there, but if we can keep the boring, one-game-at-a-time approach that we’ve had, we can keep this streak going.”
    Where the Chargers (9-3) stand one game into December, a month in which they are 15-0 in Rivers’ three-plus seasons as the starting quarterback, is ahead of the Denver Broncos (8-4) by a game in the AFC West.
    The Chargers are also in a virtual tie with the Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC’s No. 2 seed (and accompanying first-round postseason bye). That the Chargers technically lead that race by virtue of having a better record against conference opponents is moot, since the two play Dec. 20 at Qualcomm Stadium — and because there are four games remaining and the playoff hopefuls are so tightly bunched.
    The Chargers know what goes down in Dallas this Sunday and then against Cincinnati will dictate much about their January. But even that is perhaps looking too far ahead.
    “Everyone wants to talk playoffs,” linebacker Kevin Burnett said. “… It could end up that everyone has the same record. Look at everyone’s record right now. You have to pay your own bills first.”
    In Dallas, which is 8-4 and tied for the NFC East lead, the Chargers face perhaps the most potent and well-rounded offense they have all season. The Cowboys are ranked third in total yards, eighth in rushing yards and seventh in passing yards.
    To the end of slowing that offense, the Chargers will hope they can be close to full strength on defense this week.
    “It will be beneficial for everyone in this locker room to be at full strength – or as close to it as possible,” said Merriman, who along with Castillo was joined on the sideline last Sunday by free safety Eric Weddle.
    Weddle, who sprained his knee Nov. 30 against Kansas City, is likely another week from returning.
    Merriman, bothered by foot tendinitis, and Castillo, who has missed the past two games with a calf strain, have shown enough improvement to bolster Turner’s hopes.
    “I’m optimistic about them, but I understand we could play without both of them,” Turner said. “We have to get through a week and see where we’re at. ... I’m concerned. No question. We need to be able to pressure the quarterback. … We’re going to do everything we can to get those guys ready.”

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