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

San Diego Chargers Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-10

San Diego Chargers Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-10
What was expected as a one-week absence will go on longer for outside linebacker Jyles Tucker.

Tucker tweaked his hamstring in the win over Oakland two games back and the injury is worse than originally feared.

Tucker signed an extension early in the season when the Chargers realized Shawne Merriman probably wouldn't last the season with his knee injury. But the Chargers' plan of the transition to Tucker -- who does show promise -- took another turn.

With Tucker down, Marques Harris gets another start. He had a 1/2 sack last week and displays a good burst off the line as well. But whenever a team -- any team -- gets down to a third-stringer on the depth chart, it usually raises a red flag.


--RB Darren Sproles figures to get more carries with the uncertainty around LaDainian Tomlinson's toe.

--WR Craig Davis should be in the mix more with Chris Chambers (ankle) expected to be out. Davis has caught passes in only two of the Chargers' five games.

--DT Ryon Bingham is being used more inside -- he also plays end -- with the Chargers trying to keep Pro Bowl DT Jamal Williams (knees) fresh.

--ILB Tim Dobbins continues to steal reps from Matt Wilhelm with his play.

--FB Jacob Hester, a second-round pick, is having trouble getting in on the base offense. But it hasn't hampered his play on special teams, where he is being noticed; he forced and recovered a fumble on a kickoff last week.

GAME PLAN: Get after Matt Cassel. The Chargers have been reluctant to blitz much and the result has been a very tepid pass rush -- we know replacing Shawne Merriman is a tough deal. But the Chargers have to get after Cassel to keep him from casually going through his reads and picking apart a pass defense which is ranked dead last in the NFL.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chargers CBs Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer, vs. Patriots' passing attack and WR Randy Moss. Cromartie and Jammer will be tested by the Patriots, as they seemed to have rediscovered Moss last Sunday on the deep routes. The Chargers' play from the cornerbacks has been uneven. And when looking for help from the safeties, Eric Weddle is in his first year as a starter, and Clinton Hart is nursing a sore shoulder and a left hand, which was broken earlier this year. Cromartie and Moss is a matchup that features two of the best pure athletes in the NFL. But Cromartie needs to be careful here in that he doesn't go out of his way to showboat his abilities in going for a big play instead of supplying solid coverage against Moss.

--Chargers kickoff return team vs. Patriots kick return team, led by Ellis Hobbs. The Chargers have had trouble containing returns, ranking No. 31 in the league with opponents taking over, on average, on their 30-yard-line. The Chargers defense is on its heels of late and it needs the return team to do a better job in delivering some decent field position. But Hobbs will test that with a 34.2-yard average -- nearly three yards better than any other returner in the NFL.

--Chargers running game with RB LaDainian Tomlinson and FB Mike Tolbert, vs. Patriots run defense with S Rodney Harrison. The Chargers need to get their struggling running game back on track and they will try to do just that if Tomlinson's sore big right toe is willing. If so, Tolbert, an undrafted rookie, needs to have a big day against Harrison, one of the hardest-hitting safeties in NFL history. Harrison is well-versed in how Tomlinson, a former teammate, likes to run. And while Harrison doesn't cover the ground like he once did, he still is dynamite in stopping the run. Plus, with WR Chris Chambers not expected to play, Harrison can cheat toward the line of scrimmage even more in trying to plug a gap Tomlinson wants to hit. The battle between C Nick Hardwick and DT Vince Wilfork is also worth watching.


--WR Chris Chambers (ankle) didn't practice Thursday and appears to be out for Sunday. "I'm always optimistic; I consider myself a fast healer," Chambers said. "We have a great training staff and I'm going to get back as fast as I can. I'm not going to rush anything now and hopefully I'll be on the field very soon."

--WR Vincent Jackson, who has a team-high 17 catches, was also out. He tweaked his knee in Wednesday's practice and stayed off it Thursday. "There's a difference between playing with soreness and soreness you can't play through," Jackson said. "The knee is just pretty sore ... get some rest and see if we can get the inflammation out of there and hopefully by tomorrow I can practice."

--TE Antonio Gates (hip) worked but he's been having trouble getting separation and yards after the catch in games.

--CB Antonio Cromartie is again being slowed by a hip ailment that restricted him earlier in the year. He'll likely play Sunday, but he could be compromised in trying to track Randy Moss.

--FB Mike Tolbert can't shake the sprained ankle that has been bothering him. He, like CB Antonio Cromartie, was a limited participant in Thursday's practice.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson (toe) also was restricted in his work. That said, he was moving pretty well.

--OLB Jyles Tucker (hamstring) is out at least this week and possibly longer.

--OLB Marques Harris, who was a third-stringer at the beginning of the season, will start in place of OLB Jyles Tucker.

--RG Mike Goff (knee) is a go for Sunday.

--LG Kris Dielman (thigh) will start Sunday.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 10, 2008

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Jacques Cesaire Name: Jacques Cesaire
Position: DE
Age: 27
Experience: 6 years
College: Southern Connecticut State
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