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News » San Diego Chargers Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-03

San Diego Chargers Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-03

San Diego Chargers Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-03
Look for ILB Stephen Cooper to get the start over veteran Derek Smith. The Chargers are counting on Cooper to give their up-and-down run defense a boost with his fresh legs and solid play. Smith was decent while filling in for Cooper, but the Chargers are expecting the play from that position to improve dramatically.


--ILB Tim Dobbins continues to make strides and could be replacing Matt Wilhelm in the starting lineup. Regardless, Dobbins will see plenty of action against the Dolphins.

--RB Darren Sproles has been a constant with his production off returns and his play was acknowledged when the was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month.

--OLB Marques Harris would be in line to start for Jyles Tucker if he can't go with a hamstring injury. Harris has a great first step; he had a sack last week in Oakland and forced a fumble that helped the Chargers' second-half rally.

--WR Legedu Naanee, a second-year pro, isn't getting too many chances but he is making good on them when reaching the field. He was on the receiving end of a 2-point conversion and had a team-high two special teams tackles in the win over the Raiders.

--DT Jamal Williams didn't practice Wednesday but that is not a cause for concern. He is moving as well as he has all year and is coming off a solid game. He had six tackles, but more importantly, was a force in the middle even when not bringing down the ball-carrier.

GAME PLAN: The Chargers need to establish the run and take some of the steam out of an aggressive Dolphins defense. Keep that defense on the field as much as possible in what promises to be a humid day with temperatures in the mid-80s. If they can do that, they will be susceptible to the big play downfield if tiring out. But this won't be easy with the Dolphins showing a No. 10 ranking against the run. But they haven't faced a back like LaDainian Tomlinson, either, and the Chargers' All-Pro RB is as healthy as he has been all year.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chargers pass protection vs. a Dolphins pass rush that is led by WLB Joey Porter. No one around the Chargers could remember the last time Philip Rivers took such a beating as he did in Oakland. The Chargers have to shore that up, but it won't be a snap against an active Dolphins defense that has a 3-4 alignment and Porter screaming off the edge. Porter already has four sacks in three games, which ties him for second in the AFC. LT Marcus McNeill need to be on his game, but the Chargers would be wise to give him some help over there by parking TE Brandon Manumaleuna over there and keeping a fullback in the backfield to lend a hand.

The Chargers run defense against a Dolphins running game, which is a two-headed monster with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. The Chargers usually hang their defensive hat on their run defense, but so far it has yet to dominate on a consistent basis -- thus its No. 22 ranking. But that run unit gets a lift with the return of Stephen Cooper, their leading tackler last year. Brown is shifty and proved in the last game he can throw the ball as well. Williams is the team's second-leading rusher and remains a dangerous threat. The Chargers have to be ready for the Dolphins spreading out their offense, as well as operating a strong running game out of their base defense. The Dolphins at No. 6 in rushing and will try to attack that part of the Chargers defense. Not only to gain yards, but to possibly shorten the game and keep the Chargers offense off the field.

INJURY IMPACT: OLB Jyles Tucker (hamstring) didn't work Wednesday and could be out this weekend. If he can't go, Marques Harris -- a third-stringer before the season -- would replace him.

TE Antonio Gates (hip) didn't practice but should go on Sunday.

RG Mike Goff (knee) didn't work and may not go until Friday. This is a tough guy and the expectation is he will play.

DT Jamal Williams (knee) didn't practice but he will play Sunday.

FB Mike Tolbert (ankle) didn't practice and could be a game-time decision. If he can't go, rookie Jacob Hester could get his first NFL start.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 3, 2008

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Charlie Whitehurst Name: Charlie Whitehurst
Position: QB
Age: 25
Experience: 3 years
College: Clemson
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