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Inside Slant

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

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: USA Today

    The Chargers are coming off a big win as they prepare for Sunday's visit by the Tennessee Titans.

    Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

    Good question.

    Last season, the Chargers often followed up a big win with a big stinker.

    That point was illustrated best when they knocked the Indianapolis Colts from the ranks of the unbeaten last December. While the Chargers were pounding their chests, they went toes up at home against the Miami Dolphins.

    "When I talk about some of the mistakes we made last year (that) we'll come back and correct this year, that's one of them," linebacker Shawne Merriman said. "We can't let that happen this year. We realize that."

    So they eye the Titans with a dose of confidence accompanied by a degree of apprehension. The front end of the Chargers' schedule is built in a manner that the time is now to load up on some wins.

    But the Titans, coming off a season-opening loss to the Jets, might present a problem or two.

    Or maybe the biggest problem is the Chargers themselves. That Monday night game with the Raiders was so built up, so hyped, it will be interesting to see if the Chargers can produce another solid performance.

    Coach Marty Schottenheimer is certain they will. Although he is just as certain - while the players say otherwise - they have never overlooked a rival after coming off a big win.

    "I've never thought that we've looked by anybody," he said. "I've seen us in situations where we haven't played as well as we would have liked to have played or could have played, but I don't think we've looked beyond anybody - I haven't, personally."

    Schottenheimer said if his charges get overconfident, they should go sit in the darkness of the film room.

    "I don't think we'll have any problems putting it behind us," Schottenheimer said. "If the players want to look at the tape, they can look at it on their own. We've got to move forward with this short week that we've got."

    What the Chargers have to do is become dominant at home. Among the reasons they stayed at home for the playoffs was a lousy 4-4 record at Qualcomm Stadium. That has to change, or they likely won't make the playoffs for the second time since 1995.

    Merriman predicts the Chargers will approach this home season with a new attitude.

    "That's going to help us out in getting closer to our goal, and that's the Super Bowl," he said. "But right now, we have Tennessee in our way."

    SERIES HISTORY: 38th meeting. The Chargers lead the series, 20-16-1, and have won the past three games against the Titans. The Chargers have never lost to the Titans since they moved to Nashville, and that includes a victory over them when they were playing at Vanderbilt.

    Before defeating them on three consecutive occasions, the Titans (then the Oilers) won four in a row.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    -OLB Steve Foley's agent, David Levine, released a statement regarding Foley's status. Foley is recuperating from three gun shots at Sharp Memorial Hospital when shot by an off-duty Coronado police officer on Sept. 3. He was shot twice in the back of the left leg and in his left thigh. "Steve is aware of the manner in which the incident is being portrayed by law enforcement in the media," the statement read. "He will respond at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum. For now, his efforts are being directed toward recovering from his injuries. Steve wishes to thank the Chargers, his fans and the community for its continuing support."

    -Philip Rivers got his first NFL start and a win against the Raiders, after winning all four of his opening day starts at North Carolina State. Rivers swept his slate at N.C. State by defeating Arkansas St. (two OTs), Indiana, New Mexico and Western Carolina.

    -To prepare for the McAfee Coliseum field, which includes the Oakland A's dirt, K Nate Kaeding went to San Diego State's Tony Gwynn Stadium twice and kicked off the infield area. Kaeding, who had two field goals against the Raiders, had never kicked off the dirt. His rookie year in 2004 was the Padres' first season they played at Petco Park, so he never had an attempt of the Qualcomm Stadium dirt.

    -ILB Donnie Edwards remains on the trading block.

    -The Chargers are apparently still interested in adding a veteran to the quarterback mix; the Titans' Billy Volek has been mentioned. But his price likely went up considerably after the injury to Chiefs QB Trent Green.

    -Despite the buzz generated by Monday's win, the Chargers' Sunday date with the Titans will probably be blacked out on local TV.

    -The Chargers have two shutouts in less than three seasons, both coming under the direction of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. "He is one of those interesting personalities that you don't know if he is making a joke or he is serious. But when it comes to having a coach that you feel completely confident in as a player, (you know) that he will never put you in a bad position," said DE Luis Castillo.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 11 - Philip Rivers was the 11th starting quarterback for the Chargers since Stan Humphries led the team to a playoff victory in 1996. Their previous quarterbacks were: Drew Brees, Doug Flutie, Ryan Leaf, Moses Moreno, Jim Harbaugh, Erik Kramer, Craig Whelihan, Jim Everett, Sean Salisbury (Orange Glen High) and Gale Gilbert.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was so built up for myself and it was so played up: 'Monday night, first start, what's going to happen?' (It was good) to get that win and kind of push it aside, not just for myself but for the team." - QB Philip Rivers on getting his first start behind him.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    If Igor Olshansky (knee) can't play on Sunday, the Chargers would insert Jacques Cesaire into the lineup. Cesaire is nowhere near the run-stuffer that Olshansky is, but he's a smart player who is seldom out of position. The Chargers have to be careful another defensive lineman doesn't go down.

    PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

    -PR Cletis Gordon has returned to practice - he had a swollen hand - but it appears the punt-return duties will stay with Eric Parker.

    -LT Leander Jordan was going to be counted on as rookie Marcus McNeill's backup, but he still hasn't practice since suffering a stinger on Aug. 12.

    -RB Michael Turner could continue to see his workload increase. He got his 10 carries earlier in Monday's game than usual. Still, LaDainian Tomlinson ran the ball 31 times.

    -CB Antonio Cromartie didn't have an impact in the base defense but he was often the first man down in covering kicks and punts. LG Kris Dielman proves his toughness again by working this week. Dielman tweaked him knee in the Raiders' game but continues to practice.

    GAME PLAN: Philip Rivers threw but 11 passes in Monday's winning effort. So that might lead some to think that Rivers will again be kept on a pitch count, not doing much but handing the ball off to LaDainian Tomlinson. But the Chargers could surprise the Titans - who'll be bent on stopping Tomlinson - and come out throwing. Why? The Titans' pass defense isn't very good and it would be good to let Rivers show off his arm some. Although, if the game unfolds like it did Monday in Oakland - not likely - Marty Schottenheimer has no problem shutting Rivers down.

    MATCHUPS TO WATCH: FB Lorenzo Neal, who'll be opening holes for RB LaDainian Tomlinson, vs. OLB Keith Bullock, the top Titans defensive player. Neal is a dinosaur in that few teams employ fulltime fullbacks any more. But Neal, despite entering his 14th season, isn't slowing down any. The collision at the point of attack on running plays between Neal and Bullock, the Titans' leading tackler in each of the past four seasons, will be worth watching.

    -The Chargers passing game, led by a still unproven Philip Rivers vs. the Titans' pass defense, which surrendered a league-high 33 touchdown passes last year. After sitting on the ball in much of Monday's win over the Raiders, not much was learned about Rivers. But it will be tempting for him to exploit a Titans pass defense which was not only lacking last year but it gave up two touchdown passes in Sunday's loss to the Jets. Look for Rivers to try and get the wide outs more involved; they had but two receptions in Monday's win.

    -Chargers LT Marcus McNeill, who showed well in is NFL debut last game, vs. RE Travis LaBoy. McNeill received high grades for his work Monday against Tyler Brayton. But the Raiders were such a mess that it was tough to get a good read on the rookie McNeill. LaBoy won't be McNeill's stiffest test this season by a long shot, but it'll be a good challenge just the same, especially with LaBoy's quickness. LaBoy had a career-high 6.5 sacks last year, which was second-best among the Titans.

    INJURY IMPACT: DE Igor Olshansky (knee) didn't practice and is listed as questionable - he might not go. If not, Jacques Cesaire would replace him.

    -LG Kris Dielman (hamstring) practiced and will go

    -LT Leander Jordan (shoulder; stinger), a backup, didn't practice and likely won't go Sunday.

    -TE Aaron Shea (back), a backup, hasn't worked in a month and won't play.

    -TE Ryan Krause (hamstring) didn't work and probably won't go.

    -CB Cletis Gordon (hand) practiced but will likely be a healthy inactive.
     

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