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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Sep 28, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a>

    <img width="188" height="286" align="left" alt="LaDainian Tomlinson" title="LaDainian Tomlinson" src="http://www.seniorbowl.com/2006/graphics/photos/06.nfl.tomlinson.jpg" />One might think running back LaDainian Tomlinson is dreading Sunday's trip to Baltimore. There at M&T Bank Stadium waiting for Tomlinson is the NFL's top-ranked run defense.

    The Chargers (2-0) will match unbeaten records with the Ravens (3-0) this weekend. And the matchup of Tomlinson against Ray Lewis and company will be among the most compelling on the Sunday slate.

    Tomlinson? Instead of regretting the matchup, he is embracing it.

    "When you play a defense that is in the bottom half of the league, you expect to run all over them," said Tomlinson, who has rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns on 50 carries. "So a lot of times you don't really get pumped up to play defenses like that.

    "But when you are playing a defense like Baltimore, Pittsburgh, you definitely get pumped up to play them."

    It's especially thrilling with Lewis, the two-time defensive player of the year, on the other side. The two stars won't be friends on Sunday, but their admiration for each other is hard to hide.

    "Me and Ray have grown to know each other pretty well," Tomlinson said. "I think we both respect each other to the fullest, knowing how much passion he has for the game of football and being a guy that has been the model linebacker for 11 years. I've looked up to him for a long time."

    What gives Tomlinson confidence - among his talent - is his familiarity with the 3-4 defense the Ravens run. For the last three seasons, the Chargers have had the same scheme.

    "We run the same defense," Tomlinson said. "So it's better for us. I remember in the past when we ran our regular 4-3 defense it was kind of hard to prepare for teams that ran the 3-4 defense because you really didn't see it.

    "But now we see it every day and it is nothing new to us. So it makes it easy to go against defenses like that."

    Easy might not be just the right word. But it's plain to see Tomlinson isn't intimidated about squaring up on a defense that has allowed but 103 rushing yards in three games.

    "This is going to be fun," Tomlinson said. "It's always fun playing against guys like that. There's going to be bragging rights because we are going to see each other in the offseason. Hopefully, I will get the bragging rights."

    SERIES HISTORY: 5th meeting. The San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens are tied, with two wins each. But Baltimore has won the last two meetings, 24-3 in Baltimore in 2000 and 24-10 in San Diego in 2003. The Chargers have never defeated the Ravens as a visiting team. The Chargers are looking for their fourth straight win and fifth in the last seven games following their bye week.


    -P Mike Scifres has learned that longer isn't always better. He's built his game toward having the fewest net return yards rather than having the longest punts.

    "To have the fewest numbers of punt returns I can give us, helps us more as a team," he said. "Our coach always says that field position is a big part of the game and the better the net average is the better field position we are going to be in at the end of the day."

    Scifres has had but one of seven punts returned this year.

    -K Nate Kaeding has signed a contract extension through the 2012 season. Kaeding, a third-round pick and part of the package the Chargers received for trading Eli Manning to the New York Giants, has yet to miss on six field-goal attempts.

    -If the Chargers can beat the Ravens for the second straight time, they will run their record to 3-0 for the first time since 2002. Of course in 2002, the Chargers had a late-season pratfall and failed to make the playoffs.

    -QB Billy Volek will see a familiar face in Ravens QB Steve McNair. Volek spent six years as McNair's backup with the Titans. McNair was acquired by the Ravens in the offseason and Volek recently was brought in by the Chargers for a conditional sixth-round pick. Coach Marty Schottenheimer has yet to say if Volek or rookie Charlie Whitehurst will serve as Philip Rivers' backup.

    -Rivers will not only be playing in front of some 70,000 fans on Sunday, but it's also his first start in front of his entire family who will make the trip from Alabama.

    -Schottenheimer eyes Ravens LB Ray Lewis and see a leader. "I don't really know him that well but I have to say from afar he is one of the best leaders I have ever seen in professional football," Schottenheimer said. "You go back to guys like (Dick) Butkus and the way he led. Ray Lewis just to me embodies those qualities you look for in a leader. He's not afraid to tell you what to do and if you dispute what he's got to say, he is willing to step behind the curtain and talk it over."

    -Three weeks into the season, the Chargers have the greatest scoring differential in the lead of 60 points (67-7). Baltimore is third at 50, six points behind the Bears.

    -The Chargers defensive number are even more impressive when considering only 150 of the 347 total yards allowed this year were collected in the first three quarters of the first two games. The Titans and the Raiders combined for 197 yards in the fourth quarter, more than they had in the first three quarters.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 1 & 2: The ranking of the two teams' defenses; the Chargers are No. 1, one notch above the Ravens.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "If you didn't have to play them, they would be fun to watch." - Coach Marty Schottenheimer on facing the Ravens' stout defense.


    Starting strong safety Terrence Kiel was arrested on Tuesday on felony drug charges and won't play this weekend. Kiel will be replaced by Clinton Hart, a career backup who has started 14 games since his 2003 rookie year.

    The safety position is looking thin, as the Chargers lost another safety on Tuesday when Bhawoh Jue, a starter last year, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. He's out for this week, and will be looked at again next week.

    The team signed S Andre Lott on Tuesday to help with the depth. But if someone else should go down Sunday, the Chargers could be in a bind.


    -WR Keenan McCardell has returned to practice and looks like a go for Sunday. He's been nursing a tender hamstring.

    -WR Kassim Osgood has caught but one pass and this week will likely be no different. What the Chargers need Osgood to do is shine on special teams where he must track B.J. Sams. Sams had a 72-yard kickoff return earlier this year.

    -RB Michael Turner should continue to spell LaDainian Tomlinson - and not necessarily when the game is put away. Turner's 73-yard run against the Titans is the NFL's longest run of the year. Turner is averaging 7.6 yards on 23 carries.

    -DE Igor Olshansky returns to the lineup after missing last week and virtually all of the opener. Olshansky sprained his knee in the first defensive series of the season.

    -QB Philip Rivers gets high marks for spreading the ball around to nine different receivers in the recent win over the Titans. Not since September of 2000 had that many receivers caught passes for the Chargers.

    GAME PLAN: Get ahead early and let the defense take over - that should be the plan for the Chargers. The Ravens are many things, but their offense isn't one that is built to stage roaring comebacks from grand deficits. The Chargers' offense, although similar to the Ravens, is much more explosive and has more weapons. If the Chargers can strike fast and possibly take a chance or two early in the game to get a sizable lead, the Ravens could have difficulty coming back against the NFL's No. 1 defense.

    MATCHUPS TO WATCH: The Chargers pass protection, which features LT Marcus McNeill making his second NFL road start vs. the Ravens' pass rush, which comes from various angles with different personnel. McNeill figures to have a huge test in trying to slow down Terrell Suggs, who is tied for second on the team with three sacks. McNeill has graded out well in the first two games, but Suggs on the road will be his toughest challenge to date. McNeill could get a break as Suggs is nursing a sore hamstring. The Chargers have yet to allow a sack this year while the Ravens have 16, led by LB Bart Scott's five.

    -The Chargers punting game vs. the Ravens' return game in a contest that will revolve much around field position. Chargers P Mike Scifres is having another solid year as he punted seven times this season and only three of them have been returned - for a combined one yard. Scifres' 42.1-yard net average is second in the NFL. Sams was second in the NFL last year with a 12.2-yard average on punt returns. This year he has an average of 10.2 with a long of 24.

    -The Chargers' running game, featuring the 1-2 punch of LaDainian Tomlinson vs. the Ravens' run defense, which is allowing but 34.3 yards a game. Tomlinson and Turner are the only NFL backs on the same team to have rushed for 175 yards; the Chargers are the second-leading rushing team in the league. But the Ravens are No. 1 against the run, allowing but 34.3 yards a game. Ray Lewis is eager to show that the Ravens' defense is the best on the field and that starts with stopping Tomlinson and Turner.

    INJURY IMPACT: S Bhawoh Jue (knee) is out this week at least after undergoing surgery.

    -LT Leander Jordan (neck) didn't practice and won't play Sunday.

    -TE Ryan Krause (hamstring) didn't practice and won't play Sunday.

    -LG Kris Dielman (hamstring) practiced and will play Sunday.

    -RG Mike Goff (hamstring) practice and will play Sunday.

    -DE Igor Olshansky (knee) is practicing and will play Sunday.

    -WR Keenan McCardell (hamstring) practiced and will play Sunday.

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