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Chargers pass defense passing tests

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Casey Pearce
    Posted Oct 2, 2009

    After finishing last season ranked 31st in the NFL against the pass, the Chargers are tied for eighth through three weeks and feel good about the team defense they’re playing.

    Wednesday afternoon, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin was asked to identify a couple of matchups he believed were worthy of fans attention in his team’s matchup with the Chargers Sunday night.

    “That corner tandem of (Quentin) Jammer and (Antonio) Cromartie is spectacular," Tomlin said. “They play on the line of scrimmage a bunch, and we have to be ready for a battle from our wide receivers' standpoint.”
    Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner, although not responding to Tomlin, took it a step further when asked about their play.

    “I like the way our secondary is playing,” Turner said. “Everyone attributes it to the corners and our corners are playing well, but that group has got to play together. I think we’re doing a better job with our underneath coverage from a linebacker standpoint so there aren’t as many lanes to fit the ball into and it’s helping our corners’ coverage.”
    Through three weeks, the Chargers are tied for eighth in the NFL in pass defense after finishing 31st in 2008. The passer rating of Chargers’ opponents is just 66.9, tied for seventh lowest in the NFL.

    “We take pride in playing technically sound football and playing within the defense,” Cromartie said. “We’re playing together. We’re communicating. We can always play better, but we’re not giving up a lot of big plays and we’re doing some good things.”
    The Chargers have also been much better the last two weeks in an area that has hurt them in recent years: defending the tight end. Miami’s tight ends didn’t catch a pass last week and Baltimore’s Todd Heap had just one reception in Week 2. Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller is the team’s second-leading receiver and had a touchdown catch against the Chargers in the playoffs last year.

    “He’s a big guy that they like to get the ball to,” safety Clinton Hart[​IMG] said. “He’s a guy we’re aware of. We just have to keep doing a good job of playing our assignments.”
    This week the Chargers face a Pittsburgh team that presents some unique challenges in the passing game. Quarterback Ben Roethisberger often uses his size, strength and athleticism to keep plays alive when it appears the pass rush has gotten to him. His style of play can test the fortitude of the most talented of secondaries.

    “He extends plays,” Chargers safety Eric Weddle[​IMG] said. “He’s got the arm to throw any route. He’s so dangerous making plays with his feet. As a defensive back, it’s a major priority to stay deep, stay in our zones, stay with our man. You just have to stay disciplined. It’s going to be a challenge.”

    Another good day
    Running back LaDainian Tomlinson[​IMG] practiced for a second-straight day and had another strong outing according to Turner.
    “He didn’t have any soreness from yesterday so we’re making the kind of progress we’re hoping for,” Turner said.
    Guard Louis Vasquez[​IMG] was also on the field again Thursday. Linebacker Shawne Merriman[​IMG], who didn’t work Wednesday, was limited in Thursday’s practice but is still up in the air for Sunday.
    “I think a lot of the things he did, he did well,” Turner said. “With the situation he has, it’s day to day and we’ll see where he is tomorrow.”
    Defensive end Travis Johnson[​IMG] and linebacker Antwan Applewhite[​IMG] did not practice, and cornerback Antoine Cason[​IMG] (groin) was limited.
    The Steelers had four players miss Thursday’s practice due to injury: safety Troy Polamalu, tight end David Johnson, running back Willie Parker and cornerback Keiwan Ratliff.

    Wrap him up
    Chargers Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera believes one of the keys to keeping the 6-5, 240 pound Roethlisberger from eluding the pass rush or making plays with guys on him is to make sure they’re around the quarterback’s right side.
    “You’ve got to tackle the arm,” Rivera said. “If you don’t, he’s such a big, strong physical football player that he breaks loose. We’ve got to make sure that we tackle his right side. You’ve got to get to his right side and keep him from throwing the football with guys draped around him.”
    The Chargers sacked Roethlisberger four times in last year’s regular-season meeting between the clubs but just once in the divisional playoff game.

    First action
    Rookie safety Kevin Ellison[​IMG] made his debut on special teams against the Ravens and then got his first action with the defense last week verses Miami. The team’s sixth-round draft pick played nine snaps on defense.
    “I thought he did well,” Turner said. “He’s a natural player. He’s a confident player and he’s got good vision. He did good things on special teams and he got some plays on defense.”

    Quick hits
    - Turner will get to spend some time with his oldest son Scott this weekend. The younger Turner is a graduate assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh. The Panthers play at Louisville on Friday and return that night.
    - Former Chargers wide receivers coach James Lofton will serve as the color commentator on Westwood One’s national radio broadcast of Sunday’s game.
    - The Steelers are 10-1 in primetime games under Tomlin.
    - Should wide receiver Vincent Jackson[​IMG] record a 100-yard game Sunday, he’ll be the first Charger since Wes Chandler in 1982 to reach the century mark in three-consecutive games. Chandler did it four games in a row.
    - While it has rained this week in Pittsburgh, Sunday’s forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 40’s, much better than the freezing temperatures the Chargers faced in trips to Heinz Field last November and January.

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