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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Apr 1, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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

    For Philip Rivers, it's considered the NFL's version of baptism by fire: making his first start in Oakland against the Raiders.

    Rivers, the heir apparent to the job left open when quarterback Drew Brees left for New Orleans, will open his first season as a starter on September 11 in the Black Hole.

    The Chargers and Raiders were named as the second game in the season opening "Monday Night Football" doubleheader on ESPN.

    With it being a Chargers-Raiders game, the hype will be significant. With it being part of the first presentation by ESPN on a Monday night, the hype goes up even more.

    But Rivers, who is entering his third season but has just 30 NFL passes on his resume, isn't concerned about being under center in one of the NFL's most rowdier venues.

    Never mind the game not starting until after 7 p.m. in Oakland, the Black Hole citizens will have plenty of time to quench their thirst to be in full voice for Rivers.

    "Yeah, I'm excited and I think our team is excited," Rivers said. "What else could you ask for than this? 'Monday Night Football' is as big as it gets. And you throw in a divisional opponent in Oakland, and it's up there. That is what it's all about.

    "I know personally I wouldn't want to have it any other way than to get it started for the season in that type of atmosphere on a Monday night."

    Careful what you wish for, Mr. Rivers. Although among the reasons he might not be shaking is he's never seen the Raiders beat the Chargers.

    Since Rivers arrived in time for the 2004 season, the Chargers have swept all four games against the Raiders. They'll go for five straight wins on September 11, with a new quarterback who doesn't seem a bit fazed.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    -The Chargers were selected to be part of a nationally televised exhibition game when they face the Bears at Solider Field on Aug. 18. The contest will be broadcast by CBS. With the "Monday Night Game" to open the season, the Chargers will be on national TV twice in about four weeks. "To me this is the biggest indicator of how much respect the Chargers have gained around the country," team president Dean Spanos said.

    The rest of the Chargers exhibition schedule features a road trip to San Francisco, and home games against the Packers and Seahawks.

    -The Chargers will make three trips to the Bay Area this season: once to play the Raiders and twice to play the 49ers (once each in the regular and exhibition season).

    Teams are notorious for not showing much in the exhibition season and that will especially be true with the Chargers. Half of their summer opponents - the Seahawks and 49ers - are also playing the Chargers during the regular season.

    -RB Larry Croom, who is playing for Amsterdam in NFL Europe, had 82 yards rushing in Week 2. Croom averaged 5.5 yards per carry on 15 attempts to help lead the Admirals to a 20-15 win over the Cologne Centurions. Croom's Amsterdam and Chargers teammate, LB Phil Archer, had three tackles.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think everyone loves playing at home. But it's fun to go on the road, to go into a tough environment. There's no better feeling than silencing a crowd." - QB Philip Rivers on opening the season at Oakland.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    TEAM NEEDS

    1. Cornerback: The Chargers were the top-ranked team against the run, but defending the pass they finished near the bottom once again at No. 28. The Chargers' brass once said the lack of production on the backend was because of a tepid pass rush, but that's no longer the case. Despite having three first-rounders at this position - Quentin Jammer, Sammy Davis and Jamar Fletcher - the pass coverage continues to be the team's Achilles heel.

    2. Offensive line: Despite finishing in the top 10 of every critical rushing category, the Chargers thought so little of their line play that they fired offensive line coach Carl Mauck with one year left on his contract. General manager A.J. Smith is looking hard at adding depth at both tackle spots, especially on the left side.

    3. Wide receiver: Keenan McCardell, the Chargers' top wideout, is heading into his 15th season. The team did not mind seeing Reche Caldwell, a second-round bust, leave for New England. There is hope for Vincent Jackson - if he can stay healthy - and Eric Parker has proven he can be a reliable No. 2 or No. 3 receiver.

    FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

    TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

    UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CB Jamar Fletcher.

    UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): WR Drew Haddad.

    RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Matt Wilhelm.

    EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: LB Howard Hodges; RB Calvin Murray.

    PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: LB Stephen Cooper; OG Kris Dielman; S Clinton Hart; WR Kassim Osgood; DE Jacques Cesaire; LB Carlos Polk; FB Andrew Pinnock.

    PLAYERS ACQUIRED: S Marlon McCree; TE Aaron Shea.

    PLAYERS LOST: QB Drew Brees; WR Reche Caldwell; OG Bob Hallen; LB Ben Leber; TE Justin Peelle; DE DeQuincy Scott; OL Courtney VanBuren; S Jerry Wilson.
     

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