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Rivers outraces 'Lights Out' Merriman in Chargers practice

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jul 31, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/breaking_news/15167179.htm">Associated Press</a>

    By Bernie Wilson

    SAN DIEGO - It's the kind of training camp play that revs up players and fans, and makes coaches cringe.

    Late in Monday's second practice, new San Diego Chargers starting quarterback Philip Rivers broke free on a sneak and took off on a 60-yard, open-field run, figuring he might as well finish off the play.

    Not to be outdone, outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005, came sprinting after Rivers from the other side of the field. The quarterback stepped into the end zone about 5 yards ahead of the linebacker.

    Coach Marty Schottenheimer breathed a sigh of relief that neither of the marquee players pulled a hamstring.

    "I've got to look at that play. I'm not sure that play's critical unless it's to win the Super Bowl," Schottenheimer said with a nervous laugh. "I've always believed you find out what your players do best and do that. We're going to have to visit that."

    Of course, if Rivers were to break loose on a Super Bowl-winning play, it would be a first for both the Chargers and Schottenheimer.

    Rivers and Merriman couldn't resist the challenge.

    "Especially with him chasing me," Rivers said. "I'd never beat him."

    When they crossed paths in college, Merriman's Maryland Terrapins beat Rivers' North Carolina State Wolfpack every time.

    "I was probably tackled by some of the other guys, but you always finish the play," said Rivers, who along with the other quarterbacks aren't really tackled in practice. "I was getting ready to stop and all of a sudden I just feel him running from the left side so I just continued on. Five more yards, he would have gotten me.

    "I definitely had a head start," Rivers confessed. "I wasn't about to dive into the end zone or anything, that's for sure."

    While Rivers is still waiting for his first NFL start, Merriman started in the Pro Bowl as a rookie after his 10-sack season. He's nicknamed "Lights Out" for his punishing hits.

    "He's got some wheels on him, man," Merriman said. "The quarterback's got fresh legs so he can still move. Our legs are pretty beat up out there. But in a real-life game I catch most of the quarterbacks.

    "Five more yards and I probably would have gotten him. I didn't think he would keep running. But he took another step and I said, 'All right, I'm going to catch him.'

    "It's conditioning for us," Merriman said.

    Notes: Rookie defensive tackle Chase Page, one of the Chargers' two seventh-round draft picks, hurt his right knee in the afternoon practice and was carted off the field. The Chargers didn't immediately have a prognosis. Offensive lineman Scott Mruczkowski hurt his left knee in the morning practice and is expected to be out for a week or two. "It does not appear to be serious," Schottenheimer said.
     

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