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News » San Diego Chargers Strategy and Personnel 2008-12-13

San Diego Chargers Strategy and Personnel 2008-12-13

San Diego Chargers Strategy and Personnel 2008-12-13
SS Clinton Hart is being eased into practice after a neck injury he suffered two weeks ago. He suited up last Thursday night, but he didn't see the field. It figures if Hart does go -- he'll probably start -- he could be compromised once he takes a hit. Look for Steven Gregory to see time getting a good share of reps. Gregory graded out pretty well in replacing Hart last game and the coaches have confidence in him. But when Gregory is in there, that gives the Chargers two inexperienced players at safety -- first-year starter Eric Weddle plays free safety.


--WR Vincent Jackson has set career highs in catches (44) and yards (851); his six scoring catches ties another career mark.

--TE Antonio Gates hasn't caught a touchdown pass since Nov. 9, the last time the Chargers faced the Chiefs.

--WR Chris Chambers is coming off a game in which he didn't have a catch and has but two in the last two games. In two contests this year, Chambers has played and not recorded a catch.

--QB Philip Rivers is coming off a three-touchdown pass game and he has a career-high 26 this season. He needs seven more to tie Dan Fouts' team mark.

--FS Eric Weddle continues to draw praise from coach Norv Turner for his improved play of late. Weddle, in his first year as a starter, has 103 tackles, one off the team lead.

--RB Darren Sproles continues to play well, which will increase his value in the offseason. Sproles had two touchdown receptions in the win over Raiders -- he becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season.

GAME PLAN: The Chargers showed a real purpose in establishing the run with giving LaDainian Tomlinson a heavy dose of work in the first quarter. His 49 first-quarter rushing yards in the win over the Raider eclipsed his total in four complete games this season.

So the thinking is the Chiefs will get their own heavy heaping of Tomlinson considering they are ranked 31st in run defense and dead last in overall defense.

It seemed the Chargers collected a swagger from being so physical early in the game and it carried on through four quarters. Look for the Chargers to try and beat down the lowly Chiefs early with a physical approach, relying on the stout offensive line and the fit legs of Tomlinson.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chargers run defense, which is led by a rejuvenated Jamal Williams, vs. a Chiefs running game featuring RB Larry Johnson. The Chargers nearly lost to the visiting Chiefs in their last meeting and that was without a suspended Johnson. The run defense gets no such luck on Sunday as a revved Johnson will be eager to show he is, and not LaDainian Tomlinson, the best back on the field. But the Chargers have showed some improved play in defending the run; Williams has been a force of late. But Johnson rushed for but 36 yards in 11 carries in last week's loss. Although against the Chargers, Johnson often does well. In eight games against the Chargers (five starts), Johnson has averaged 4.5 yards on 138 carries, which includes five touchdowns and three 100-yard games.

Chargers passing game and the pass protection vs. the Chiefs passive pass rush. The Chargers showed last week they can stretch the field when Philip Rivers is given time -- he had a 59-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson. To get Jackson, Chris Chambers and Malcolm Floyd involved, Rivers is going to need the time to let them go through their double moves and such for the downfield strikes. Rivers needs the time to be able to go through his progressions at least once. Among the Chiefs' woes is their anemic pass rush, one that has spit out an NFL-low six sacks. By being so comfortable in the pocket, Rivers could pick the most wide-open target while picking on the Chiefs' pass defense and two rookie cornerbacks who'll be asked to stick with receivers longer than can be expected.

Chargers running game, with LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, against a wobbly Chiefs defense. Tomlinson will take aim at the NFL's No. 31-ranked run defense. He's feeling good after a decent game last week and the weather might lend itself to some good-fashioned smash-mouth football at the hands of a shaky run defense that has a rookie in Glenn Dorsey at right tackle. But Sproles could also get the ball -- especially on a short pass which is like a run -- as he proved last week again how dangerous he is with the ball in his hands. The Chargers could generate a lot of offense out of their backfield on Sunday.


--SS Clinton Hart (neck) didn't practice Thursday and that's not a good sign after he was a limited participant on Wednesday. If he can't go, Steven Gregory would get the start. It figures Gregory will get some playing time either way.

--OLB Jyles Tucker (hamstring) has been bothered by this for most of the second half. He practiced Wednesday but was limited on Thursday. His game is his burst so he could be compromised on Sunday.

--FB Mike Tolbert (shoulder) didn't work Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. Rookie Jacob Hester would get the start if he can't go.

--LB Anthony Waters (hamstring) didn't work Thursday and could be down this week.

--DT Jamal Williams was back at work Thursday after using a rest day on Wednesday. He will start Sunday.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 13, 2008

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Tim Dobbins Name: Tim Dobbins
Position: LB
Age: 25
Experience: 3 years
College: Iowa State
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