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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 14, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a>

    <img width="294" height="194" alt="LaDainian Tomlinson" title="LaDainian Tomlinson" src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/061022chiefs/061022lt_run.jpg" />
    <div class="inside-copy">The Chargers would love to say hello to their second bye come the first week oft the AFC playoffs.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">That's among the carrots and the end of the coach Marty Schottenheimer's string this week as the Chargers welcome the Kansas City Chiefs</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">With their second AFC West title in three years secure, the Chargers go about their business of obtaining a first round bye. An eighth straight win on Sunday would give them a reprieve of what has been a long stretch of Sundays.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers had their bye relatively early, coming in Week 3. Since then, it's been a long march and some 13 players have clogged the injury list of late.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"They add up," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said of the various aches and pains. "There are certain things you might be sore from, from a previous game, and if you get hit again on that same spot, it's gonna hurt."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">That's why a week off before heading head-first into the playoffs would greatly add the team's cause to win its first postseason game since 1994.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chiefs also are an easy target to get up for. Schottenheimer still enjoys sticking it to his old team and it was Kansas City who are the last team to beat the Chargers.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"I'd be less than candid to say that the fact that we lost there isn't going to be something that we think about for this one," Schottenheimer said. "Kansas City still has an opportunity to get into the tournament. Our guys have been focused throughout, and I'm certain they'll remain that way this week."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But this doesn't figure to be a pushover game, despite two teams heading in opposition directions. While the Chargers have won seven in a row, the Chiefs have dropped two straight and are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the third consecutive year.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">So the Chiefs will likely go down with everything they got. The trick will be for the Chargers to show they still have some giddy-up in their tank after a dramatic Sunday, which included clinching a playoff spot and Tomlinson collecting the NFL single-season touchdown mark.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"I know it can get old us saying this, but Kansas City is the only team that we can worry about," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "It's the next game. We need to focus on winning each game to stay where we are. That way the playoffs do come right through here down the road."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Down the road could be a respite for the Chargers. The team hopes the extended season greets them with an extended rest.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>SERIES HISTORY:</strong> 94th meeting, with the Chiefs leading 49-43-1. The Chiefs gave the Chargers their last defeat, a 30-27 thriller at Arrowhead Stadium. Lawrence Tynes kicked a 53-yard field goal with six seconds remaining. The home team has won 16 of the past 21 against these old AFL rivals.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Coach Marty Schottenheimer said he has adjusted his practice schedule in an attempt to keep his players from getting burned out down the stretch and in the playoffs. It's been over a month since the Chargers spent a significant amount of practice time in pads. "Actually, the only time we go out and hit is on Sundays," RB LaDainian Tomlinson said. "That saves players, and I think we are fresher than we have been in the past because we haven't been going with pads and haven't been hitting on each other."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Among the Chargers' big goals was to go undefeated at home. So far they are 6-0, with dates left with the Chiefs and Cardinals.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Marty Schottenheimer coached the Chiefs from 1989-98, compiling a regular-season mark of 101-58-1. His playoff mark was 3-7.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Schottenheimer has already reached a decision as far as the final three games are involved. The Chargers will hold nothing back and will attempt to finish the regular season with a 10-game winning streak." The one thing you always want to be able to do toward the latter part of the season is win football games because winning breeds winning," Schottenheimer said. "We're working very, very diligently to try to win one game this week against Kansas City."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chiefs coach Herm Edwards was on Schottenheimer's K.C. staff in 1992-94. Edwards' mark against Schottenheimer is 4-1, including his upset of the Chargers when Edwards was with the Jets in the 2004 playoffs.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The old newspaper clipping remains on the Chargers weight room wall. It's a quote from, Tamba Hali, regarding the Chargers' toughness when the Chiefs prevailed in the last meeting. "After running the film we didn't think they were as physical as we faced (earlier this year)," Hali said. "The Steelers were physical. We played a physical game there. We were all banged up when we came out of there. Looking at the film, we know they (the Chargers) were a finesse team. We didn't think they were that physical a team, so we thought we could get after them."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">In response, Tomlinson simply said, "We'll see."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Ex-Chargers great Charlie Joiner is in his sixth year as the Chiefs wide receivers coach.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chiefs defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham was the Chargers DL coach from 1985-90.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chargers LB coach Greg Manusky played for the Chiefs from 1994-99. ... Chiefs offensive coordinator Mike Solari coached at Mira Costa in 1978 after playing for San Diego State.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>BY THE NUMBERS:</strong> 1 - TD needed by LaDainian Tomlinson to break Paul Hornung's single-season points record.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "We've shown in the past that it's tough to stop us. We're not 11-2 for nothing." - RB LaDainian Tomlinson on the Chargers' gaining the AFC's top seed.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Look for Ryon Bingham and maybe Derreck Robinson to get more snaps in the rotation along the defensive line. Luis Castillo is back, but the Chargers have to be careful not to tax his still mending ankle. Jacques Cesaire, Castillo's backup, suffered a neck injury against the Broncos and might be limited. The Chargers like to keep their line in a steady rotation, and that is going to be a key in slowing down Larry Johnson - especially keeping run-stuffer Igor Olshansky fresh.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Keenan McCardell looks to be a go this week, although the Chargers will again err on the side of caution. McCardell's calf ailment has been difficult to shake and the team held up well without him last week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB/KR Michael Turner is practicing for the second straight week, except this week he is expected to play. The Chargers were cautious with Turner, not wanting a setback to cost him the majority of the stretch run. Turner, though, must show he has his burst or Schottenheimer will contemplate keeping rookie Antonio Cromartie at kick-returner.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-K Nate Kaeding is starting to get more work of late, as the team's red-hot TD production in the red zone has cooled slightly. Kaeding has missed but two kicks all year and just once from 30-39 yards.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-FB Lorenzo Neal has opened more than his shares of holes for the record-setting Tomlinson. But what's funny is that on the record 29th TD by Tomlinson, Neal whiffed on his block and fell flat on his face.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Stephen Cooper is coming off an excellent game as a sub from starter Randall Godfrey. Cooper has a nose for the ball and proved it again with a team-high nine tackles and a key sack.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LG Kris Dielman isn't hurting his case for a contract extension with his play of late - despite an ankle injury.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>GAME PLAN:</strong> The Chargers had their manhood questioned after their last meeting with the Chiefs, as DE Hali said the Bolts were soft, a finesse team. Think Schottenheimer will mention that a time or two this week? The Chargers will come in and hit the Chiefs in the mouth, and take their chances with Tomlinson. But the passing game isn't going to be shoved aside as the Chargers proved last week they can even go vertical if need be. What the Chargers would dearly love is building a big lead and coasting in, that way they can turn the late yards over to Turner and let Tomlinson get a breather this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>MATCHUPS TO WATCH:</strong> The Chargers pass protection, with rookie LT Marcus McNeil vs. the Chiefs pass rush, led by DE Jared Allen. McNeill has been stellar this season and is among the big reasons the Chargers are where they are. He had a little trouble in the earlier matchup, as did the line getting used to the Arrowhead crowd. But McNeill doesn't figure to get off to a slow start, although he must be keen with Allen. He paces the Chiefs with 6.5 sacks. Opposite McNeill is RT Shane Olivea and he gets the active rookie in Tamba Hali and five sacks. The Chargers' protection was stellar last week, save Philip Rivers taking one big hit. But the Chiefs got four sacks the last time they faced Rivers.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers run defense, led by a stout front seven vs. the Chiefs running game, which answers to Larry Johnson. The run-stuffers got stampeded Sunday against the Broncos, allowing a season-high 162 yards. Now it must right itself and tackle Johnson, who leads the NFL in rushing and has rushed for 100 yards in seven of the last eight games. It's imperative the Chargers can keep Johnson under control - no small task - so they can then unleash the pass rush on Green in passing situations. ILB Randall Godfrey could return and help the run-stopping cause; he was out last week with a calf injury, although his replacement Stephen Cooper, did very well. But Johnson will be bent to prove his game takes a backseat to no one, so he figures to be running hard to try and match Tomlinson. Too bad Johnson's offensive line has battled injuries all year because it will face an inspired run defense.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers pass game, with Philip Rivers, vs. the Chiefs secondary, with veterans Ty Law, Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight. Rivers has proved time and again he is one cool first-year starter. That being said, the veteran backend of the Chiefs' defense could maybe bait him into making a poor decision or trying to get to fine with a pass. Rivers might get a boost with the returner of savvy WR Keenan McCardell; out with calf injury last week. But Vincent Jackson, who started for McCardell is proving to be a reliable target. If Allen and Hali can generate a rush - although the pass blocking has been good of late - the defensive backs might come up with a big turnover. Rivers threw a pick in the earlier meeting.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>INJURY IMPACT:</strong> S Bhawoh Jue (knee) didn't work on Wednesday, but that is a weekly ritual. He will play Sunday in a backup role.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Malcom Floyd (ankle) didn't work and is out.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Randall Godfrey (calf) practiced and will play this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OL Scott Mruczkowski (knee) didn't work and will not play Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Luis Castillo (ankle) didn't work but should go on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LB Marques Harris (hamstring) didn't work and may be limited Sunday if he goes.</p>
     

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