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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Mar 18, 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>
    <div class="intro-copy">The Chargers are soon to get their fill of Philip Rivers.</div>
    <p class="intro-copy">The third-year pro has been thrust into the starting role as the team decided to let veteran Drew Brees exit as an unrestricted free agent. Brees landed with the Saints, so the Chargers march on with Rivers.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">"This is not a setback," stressed Rivers.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Rivers, though, has thrown only 30 NFL passes and never started a game. As good as he was at North Carolina State, that is no guarantee he will be a success in the NFL.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"> One only has to look at Detroit last week when it axed Joey Harrington, a former No. 3 overall pick - one slot higher than Rivers.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">But Rivers is confident he is ready for his spotlight. And that he is more prepared than he would have been if he had been asked to start his rookie year.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">"No question," Rivers said. "I certainly felt going into my rookie year that as player I was confident, excited and ready to go. But there is no question two years later, in year three, how much more prepared and ready I am to step in and not just play, but perform at a high level that is needed to get what we need to do, done."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Team president Dean Spanos and general manager A. J. Smith has said they both expect to advance deep into next year's playoffs. That's fine, but don't forget that the Chargers have missed the postseason in nine of the past 10 years and they will be breaking in a quarterback who has fewer touchdown passes than his running back, LaDainian Tomlinson.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">But Rivers isn't one to run and hide. He's bent on proving he can be just as good as the man he replaces.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">"Now that I get an opportunity to be the quarterback, I don't want congratulations. That is not what it's all about," Rivers said. "It's, 'Let's go and let's keep it going.'</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">"I have a chance to be a part of a team that is trying to do something special and that is the key focus. Not, 'oh well, we'll wait around and see how this plays out; the Chargers are in for a bumpy road.' That is not the case."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Among the reasons Rivers is so confident is he has one of the best backs behind him in Tomlinson and a All-Pro tight end in Antonio Gates. Plus, with a rugged defense which has the potential to get even better, the weight of the world won't land on Rivers' shoulders.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">"I'm not doing it alone," Rivers said. "I have a ton of help and I'm surrounded by a lot of great players and coaches."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">All with great, big expectations from a player who's more green than he is polished.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-The Chargers signed free-agent S Marlon McCree to a five-year, $16 million contract which includes $6 million in guarantees.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-If former Chargers great Junior Seau, who was released by the Dolphins, doesn't latch on somewhere it would be a nice gesture by the club to sign him for a day and let him retire with the Chargers. Marty Schottenheimer was out of town when new S Marlon McCree was introduced to the local media. So defensive coordinator Wade Phillips filled in, and couldn't resist a stab at Schottenheimer's policy of not letting the assistant coaches speak. "A lot you probably don't know me," Phillips said.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Drew Brees said he's not surprised the Chargers have cast their lot with Philip Rivers after general manager A. J. Smith swung a deal back in 2004 to snag Brees' eventual replacement. "Did A. J. draft me? No," Brees said. "Did A.J. (trade for) Rivers? Enough said."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Coach Marty Schottenheimer was known to have preferred keeping Brees on the roster. But now that Rivers has been forced on him, he's singing the praises of Rivers. "I think (Rivers) is the kind if player that will develop quickly because of his instincts and intellect and an understanding of what he's been asked to do."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "I would hope the fans jump on board and continue to pull for the Chargers." - QB Philip Rivers, in response to Chargers backers being disappointed on Drew Brees' departure.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-TE Aaron Shea signed a three-year deal with San Diego to be Antonio Gates' primary backup.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">TEAM NEEDS</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Secondary: Although the Chargers have snagged former Panthers safety Marlon McCree, the team still needs help on the back end, especially at cornerback.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">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. GM A.J. Smith is looking hard at adding depth at both tackle spots, especially the left side.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">3. Wide receiver: Keenan McCardell heads into his 15th season and the team won't invite back Reche Caldwell, a second-round bust. 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.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">TRANSITION PLAYER: None.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CB Jamar Fletcher; TE Justin Peelle; DE DeQuincy Scott.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): WR Drew Haddad; OL Courtney VanBuren.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Stephen Cooper; OG Kris Dielman; LB Matt Wilhelm.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: LB Howard Hodges; RB Calvin Murray.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: S Clinton Hart; WR Kassim Osgood; DE Jacques Cesaire; LB Carlos Polk; FB Andrew Pinnock.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">PLAYERS ACQUIRED: S Marlon McCree; TE Aaron Shea.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">PLAYERS LOST: QB Drew Brees; WR Reche Caldwell; OG Bob Hallen; LB Ben Leber; S Jerry Wilson.</p>
     

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