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Sanders & Spikes may be missing pieces

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Blue Bolt, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

    Oct 28, 2009
    Bolts believe Sanders, Spikes could be missing ingredients
    Written by
    Kevin Acee

    Chargers practice Wednesday had some old faces and some new ones. Some of the new ones included Bob Sanders, center, with football, and Takeo Spikes, far left. — Peggy Peattie

    Bob Sanders jogged across the field after watching his first Chargerspractice, introduced himself to Eric Weddle's wife and in a matter of minutes was engaged in a race with Weddle's toddler son.

    As many periods have come to an end during the first week of practice,Takeo Spikes has sought out his new defensive teammates, even the undrafted rookies, to exchange high fives and words of encouragement.

    The gestures illustrate a significant component of what made Sanders and Spikes attractive to the Chargers and why the team went outside the box in free agency to get the former Pro Bowlers.

    From general manager A.J. Smith’s upstairs office down to the locker room, there is a belief the two veterans – both with a physical playing style and a reputation of going about their business sans drama and with exceptional focus -- could be the missing pieces to a championship puzzle.

    “They bring a new aspect to our team,” said cornerback Quentin Jammer. “… It’s that time. We get so close every year, and we don’t do what we’re supposed to do. So we’re trying to get it done another way.”

    For years – with linebackers Steve Foley and Randall Godfrey having departed and injuries reducing Shawne Merriman to a non-factor even before he departed -- the talk has been the incessant.
    Whether it’s perception or reality or a mix of both, the Chargers' reputation is that they lack that physical presence in the field and butt-kicking leadership in the locker room.

    “I’m not going to say we’ve never had that,” Antonio Gates said. “But once you lose guys couldn’t keep … you try to replace them.”

    Among Chargers players in recent years, at best there has been a grudging acknowledgment they could use some help in those areas. The subject is still mostly met with shrugs and/or the expected denials. But there is also ready recognition that adding leaders is a good thing.

    “It’s exciting to get two guys like that,” said Weddle. “There is going to be a sense of pride, a sense of ‘Let’s go out and be the best and hold each other to it.’ You have two guys who come in like that, bring in (free agent linebacker Travis) LaBoy, it’s easier when you have three or four guys backing you up on what you say instead of just yourself. It’s exciting to see us as a defense, what we can do on and off the field together.”

    The anticipation could be felt on the day Spikes was signed and has built ever since, as both players (along with other veterans who have signed contracts since the Collective Bargaining Agreement settlement) have been prohibited from practicing. Official ratification of the CBA is expected by a 1 p.m. (PDT) deadline Thursday, and those veterans will be allowed to practice for the first time.

    Weddle, who will line up next to Sanders and could benefit most if Sanders remains healthy, has been practically conjoined with Sanders as they both have watched practices. He does not hide his zeal for the new additions to the defense, believing they personify one of his core tenets.

    “They’re about team,” Weddle said. “They came here for a reason -- they want to win, and they want to prove that they can still play this game.”

    Both veterans did come to San Diego on a quest.

    Sanders, at one time the highest-paid safety in the NFL and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 before myriad injuries limited him to nine regular-season games the past three seasons. He signed a one-year contract because he felt the Chargers are going where he’s been.

    “It’s the perfect, perfect situation,” said Sanders, who had an interception and forced a fumble in the Colts’ Super Bowl XLI victory. “We’re right there. I want another Super Bowl ring … I’ve played them in so many games. I know the type of team they are and what they’re capable of. That’s what is really intriguing – what they’re capable of. It’s what I want to be a part of.”

    Sanders also wants to keep playing beyond 2011 and hopes his staying healthy and returning to a fearsome form will be a win-win for he and the Chargers.

    “I’ve had a lot of bad luck; that’s what I call it,” Sanders said. “My goal is to really show I can still play.”

    Spikes is entering his 14th NFL season. In his 13th, he was second on the San Francisco 49ers with 109 tackles. He signed a three-year deal here because he feels the Chargers are going back where he’s never been.

    “It’s so important to me,” Spikes said of the quest to finally play in his first postseason game.
    Then he gave an example of what he will bring, particularly to a corner of the locker room, where he coincidentally occupies the locker formerly belonging to Godfrey.

    ““If your goal is to just get to the playoffs, you need to get the hell out of here,” he said.

    The Chargers believe Spikes will the guy to stand up when a teammate is not focused, to pull a young guy aside and tell him his priorities are not where they should be, to be a surrogate coach in the type of situations where a coach’s presence wouldn’t be best.

    He is Godfrey with a bigger neck and maybe a little more left in his legs. (That said, the Chargers wanted to bring Godfrey back even one more year because of his value in the locker room.)

    “Aside from making plays,” Spikes said, making sure it is known he can still play, “I bring the ability to bring everyone together, under one roof to believe in one common goal.”
  2. Ride The Lightning

    Ride The Lightning Join the Dark Side, we have cookies.

    Aug 15, 2006
  3. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    A little concerned about Spikes age & how he'll hold up under what is quite likely to be a pretty heavy load. I realize that Dobbins is no superstar, but with Siler gone I think we could get him on the cheap to both rotate with Spikes & for his ST play.

    As for Sanders .... I'm well aware of his injury history. I'm also well aware of his impact & leadership. I have a good feeling about Mr. Sanders in San Diego.
  4. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

    Jan 24, 2010
    I agree, which is a huge reason we need another veteran. If anything happen Spikes where he has to miss plays, we will have 2 very green rookies starting at ILB, which is not a good formula for a team going for a championship
  5. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    And me to the list of people nervous about this situation. My main concern, along with a few people here, is health.
  6. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Carpe Diem et omni Mundio Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

    Jan 19, 2006
    Sanders is basically no risk; if he stays healthy he could be the first real SS we've had since 2002. If he's injured, well we didn't lose anything money wise and we have Stuckey/Gregory prepared to back him up. Spikes has had injury problems but has been healthy over the last few years and apparently the DC thinks highly enough to push for his signing.

    It adds a veteran and toughness quality that makes this team better. We got rid of some youth though we have a risk of injury what they bring makes that risk worthwhile
  7. Concudan

    Concudan Meh... Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 5, 2006
    I will hope the best for Sanders, but honestly I have no expectations of him. He played so few games in the his career. he has played only 48 games out of a possible 112 regualr season games. He has averaged 9 games a season missed.
    04 6 games played
    05 14 games played
    06 4 games played
    07 15 games played (career high)
    08 6 games played
    09 2 games played
    10 1 game played

    I hope this equates to he is younger in football years and what not. But not even me and my 'brady bunch esque' attitude can say he is a lynch pin for us to take it all...

    Spikes I am less worried about even though he is entering his 14th season in the NFL. He has a great track record of health, plying in 187 games out of 208. He has averaged only 3 missed games a season, and has 8 seasons where he played in all 16 games and two others where he played in 15. He is old, but that could speak to his ability to play smart to maintain productivity. He is definately still in great physical shape. last season was his 3rd best for combined tackles, so I am willing to root there is still some fire in the tank...
  8. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Fire in the tank I believe. I'm just concerned about the mileage he may get.
  9. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

    Oct 28, 2009
    I hope they're smart about using Gregory to manage Sanders' snaps. Bob doesn't need to be an every down guy to make an impact.

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