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Chargers Team Report - 11/17/10

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by ChargerRay, Nov 17, 2010.

  1. ChargerRay

    ChargerRay Producer/Host of BoltTalk Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

    Jun 20, 2005
    Source: USA Today

    The second act is here. At 4-5 and with three home games against their three division rivals remaining, it's no time for the Chargers to get stage fright.

    With a bye behind them and all the opportunities still in front, the Chargers welcome the Denver Broncos and a "Monday Night Football" audience to San Diego.

    The Chargers are upbeat again, having won two straight to climb back into the AFC West race. With them resting on Sunday and the Broncos knocking off the division-leading Chiefs, suddenly the cards are being flipped in the Chargers' favor.

    There's still work to be done. But what once had the look of a disastrous season is somewhat promising.

    "The picture looks better than it did a few weeks ago," Philip Rivers said. "There is no denying that. But it really doesn't change our approach."

    The Chargers' hole is deep, with among their five losses two coming in the division (Kansas City, Oakland). With that deficit already glaring, the Chargers can ill afford to stumble in yet another divisional game.

    The Broncos, though, come in with a renewed giddy-up as well. They throttled the Chiefs — were leading 35-0 at halftime — and proved those flat-lining in them might have jumped the gun.

    "You have a Denver team that I would imagine feels like we did a week or two ago: 'Hey, we get on a little bit of a roll, we're right in there,"' Rivers added.

    Everyone is cozy in the AFC West, where suddenly the Broncos are alive, the Chargers are set for their late-season push, the Chiefs have five wins in the bank and the Raiders are no longer a punch line.

    "Everyone wants to talk about the race and the position that everyone's in," coach Norv Turner said. "I really think we came to the conclusion that the best thing to do is go win a game at a time and not get caught up in the race."

    Actually it sounds pretty good considering the Chargers once sat at 2-5 and injuries were piling up.

    Now they're 4-5, getting players healthy — have Pro Bowl WR Vincent Jackson's return on the horizon — and three AFC West foes in their next four games.

    The time is right for the Chargers to prove the first half was a fluke.

    "Being at home is a big part of this game," Turner said. "A Monday night game at home; it means a lot to our guys."

    SERIES HISTORY: 101st first regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series, 54-45-1. The Chargers have won six of the past eight against these old AFL rivals. When the Chargers lost to Denver at home last year, it snapped a three-game streak they had at Qualcomm Stadium. Denver owns a 20-14 record vs. San Diego in November.


    —Much of the chatter around Chargers Park this week had to do with off-the-field developments. The Spanos Family, which owns the team, confirmed that a minority share of the team is for sale. Among those reportedly interested is AEG in Los Angeles, which built the Staples Center and has announced plans to construct a football stadium adjacent to it in downtown L.A. The Chargers said this is more about estate tax planning than the team finding a new home, which it is seeking. "The sale of a minority stake in the team has nothing to do with team's new stadium efforts," team spokesman Mark Fabiani said.

    —Coach Norv Turner and his team will see a familiar face in Broncos NT Jamal Williams, a former Charger. "Jamal is a great football player and obviously was a very, very, very productive player here," he said. "He was a big part of what this team accomplished through those years. He looks good and is playing very good at the point and playing very physical.

    —QB Philip Rivers was impressed with how the Broncos thumped the Chiefs on Sunday. The Broncos dealt the Chargers a crushing blow last year, 34-23. "Last time they came in here on Monday night and they handled us pretty good," Rivers said.

    —The bye did just what Turner wanted it to do — for the most part: "We've been able to get healthy in a number of areas. We are rested. I'm anxious to see how Ryan (Mathews) is and where (Antonio) Gates is. They are a big part of what we do." Neither has practiced since the Chargers last game.

    —TE Antonio Gates said the AFC West is wide open. "What we've done to this point doesn't matter," he said. "The division is never won in the first eight weeks. Now we have a chance."

    —The Chargers continue to speak about improving their running game, which is ranked No. 16. Falling behind early and injuries have derailed its consistency. "When it fits in the scheme of the game, when we're able to run the ball, we can run the ball," LG Kris Dielman said.

    —The Chargers are hoping to avoid the embarrassment of having a Monday night game blacked out on local TV. It appeared the Chargers would sell enough tickets in time, but they may have to ask for an extension.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 1 — Number of interceptions the Chargers have produced since Oct. 3.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "You have to win in the division, which we haven't done. We're 0-for-2 so far." — QB Philip Rivers said, on the significance of Monday's game.


    The Chargers will have two key members back in their passing game — possibly.

    It's believed Malcom Floyd (hamstring) will be ready. That should give the Chargers more of a downfield threat against Denver.

    And if Antonio Gates is fit, that would play into the underneath routes being open for him to find. But Gates is iffy.

    The passing attack could have another fresh look with WR Legedu Naanee (hamstring) returning as well. But his availability wasn't certain, although it was encouraging.

    What's clear is that Rivers has made standouts out of fill-ins. Now that the starters are back, a potent offense could find another gear.


    —QB Philip Rivers is on pace to break Dan Marino's single season passing mark of 5,084.

    —RB Mike Tolbert continues to be a big part of the running game, especially with Ryan Mathews' ankle woes. Tolbert leads the team with seven rushing scores.

    —WR Legedu Naanee, if he can return, is versatile. He's often lines up at quarterback when the Chargers go to the Wildcat formation.

    —ILB Brandon Siler (foot) continues to work and that could aid the special teams, where Siler cut his teeth. He also plays in short-yardage situations.

    —WR Gary Banks was signed to the practice squad. Banks was recently cut after playing in two games and making a catch.

    GAME PLAN: The Chargers could likely do well pounding the ball away at Denver and testing their shaky run defense which is among the league's worst. But Rivers always seems to shine against the Broncos (14 TDs, three INTs) which would imply that he'll come out throwing. But if the Chargers get ahead, they won't be shy about staying to the ground and aim at that run defense.

    MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chargers C Nick Hardwick and the offensive line vs. NT Jamal Williams and the Broncos' run defense. Hardwick and Williams are two Pro Bowlers and old friends from Williams' time in San Diego. Both will be extremely motivated to get the best of the other; this will be an interesting matchup. Hardwick gets sidekick and Pro Bowl LG Kris Dielman back from a concussion to help him with the massive Williams. While Williams has played OK, the Broncos' run defense has struggled and could be a soft spot the Chargers exploit — especially if RB Ryan Mathews is fit coming off of a second ankle injury.

    Chargers secondary and pass rush vs. Broncos passing game and QB Kyle Orton. Philip Rivers' is having an MVP-type year and he has but three more touchdowns with three more interceptions than Orton. The Chargers are going to be tested by Orton; they have to prove they can get past a line which got RT Ryan Harris back and shifted Zane Beadles to left guard. The Broncos will hit the Chargers with a varied attack; they're the only team with three wide receivers with at least 40 receptions. But the pass protection has been keen for Denver — it has to be with such a mediocre running game. But if Chargers OLB Larry English can show more push in his second game back after ankle surgery, that might free up Shaun Phillips opposite him and test the edges of that protection. The Chargers are ranked No. 3 against the pass and will have to live up to that mark Monday.

    The Chargers' embattled special teams vs. the Broncos' return game which is ranked in the top 13 in both categories. The Chargers swear they have cleaned up their special-teams mess during the bye week. Any team which has allowed three returns for scores needs to be watched. Royal returned two for scores (punt 71 yards; kickoff 93) against the Chargers when they played here last year — only the 11th player to do so. Coach Turner has also promised the Chargers won't have any punt blocked this season. They have four, with another one being classified as a deflection.

    INJURY IMPACT: TE Antonio Gates (toe, foot) continues to be rested; he hasn't practiced since the last game and he may not before the next one. Gates, if nothing else, will take it up to game time before making a decision.

    —LG Kris Dielman (concussion) is back working and a go for Monday.

    —WR Malcom Floyd (hamstring) continued to look good in practice although the team did restrict some of his deep routes.

    —WR Legedu Naanee (hamstring) is also pushing it more and worked on Wednesday. How he feels on Thursday might determine if he'll be ready Monday.

    —RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) still hasn't tested his high ankle sprain which he aggravated in the last game. Mathews will like try and practice later in the week; his availability for Monday is up in the air.

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