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Confident Rivers becomes de facto starter

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/story/9308293/1">Associated Press</a>

    <img title="Philip Rivers" alt="Philip Rivers" src="http://www.bolttalk.com/images/rivers04.jpg" />

    SAN DIEGO -- Philip Rivers became the San Diego Chargers' starting quarterback on Tuesday without breaking a sweat.

    Rivers moved up the depth chart after Drew Brees, pushed out the door because of a shoulder injury, signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints.

    The Chargers are now in the hands of the former North Carolina State star with the funky delivery who's thrown only 30 passes in two pro seasons.

    Rivers, taken in the same draft class as Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, is confident he can get up to speed in the offseason.

    "The one thing that's important is this isn't a setback," Rivers said of the QB transition. "This is a time to keep pressing forward to get where we want to go. The time is now and we have an opportunity to do something special in the near future."

    Everyone knew this day would eventually come, that either Brees or Rivers would have to go. It just wasn't under this scenario.

    "Drew was a heck of a teammate, a heck of a player, a guy I had a lot of fun being around and supporting," Rivers said. "I wish him the best on the recovery of the injury, which is the one thing I hated to see happen."

    In Brees, the Chargers lose a Pro Bowler who led them to their only playoff appearance in the last decade, in 2004. He hurt his throwing shoulder in the meaningless 2005 season finale and had surgery on Jan. 5. After Brees rejected their contract offer, the Chargers declined to make him their "franchise" or "transition" player, which would have given him a guaranteed one-year salary of just less than $10 million.

    Rivers, the fourth pick overall in the 2004 draft, looked rusty when he replaced the injured Brees against Denver on Dec. 31.

    Because of Brees' injury, Rivers knew he'd be getting plenty of snaps with the first-team offense this spring and summer.

    "I'm excited, and I'm going to work like crazy this offseason to get where I need to be and help us get where we want to go," he said.

    Rivers wants to keep the expected growing pains to a minimum.

    "I would be crazy to say I'm going to have a perfect season and make few mistakes. But I certainly expect myself to make as few mistakes as possible, and to let the offseason, let that be the time for growing pains. Make that the time when I make mistakes and learn and battle every day."

    Coach Marty Schottenheimer, who's disagreed with general manager A.J. Smith over quarterback decisions, including letting Brees go, took the company line on Tuesday. The coach said he's looking forward to seeing what Rivers can do in the No. 1 role.

    "I think he'll develop quickly because of his instincts and his intellect and the understanding of what he's being asked to do," Schottenheimer said.

    What Rivers will have to do, besides handing off to LaDainian Tomlinson and throwing to Antonio Gates, is try to back up management's contention that San Diego can be a consistent playoff team.

    Brees rebounded from a poor 2003 season that almost got him chased out of town to lead the Chargers to the AFC West title in '04. But the Chargers struggled early and late last season, with a December collapse leaving them 9-7 and out of the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons.

    Smith obtained Rivers for Manning and a handful of picks in a draft-day trade with the New York Giants two years ago. But Rivers held out in training camp, allowing Brees to keep his job.

    Rivers is way behind Roethlisberger, who helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl in his second season, and Manning, who got the Giants into the playoffs.

    San Diego had the pick of the marquee trio in the 2004 draft. It ended up with Rivers after Manning told the Chargers -- then the NFL's worst team -- that he wouldn't play for them.

    "Roethlisberger has a Super Bowl ring, Eli is off and running in New York and our guy was holding a clipboard," Smith said. "So time will tell, but I just think he's very, very talented. But he will be judged on his play in the National Football League, not North Carolina State."

    San Diego's only other quarterback is A.J. Feeley, who didn't play last year after being obtained from Miami for third-string QB Cleo Lemon and a draft pick.

    Smith plans to add two more quarterbacks before training camp. He also said he expects to receive a compensatory pick in the 2007 draft for losing Brees.
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