AFC West: San Diego Chargers

The Film Don't Lie: Chargers

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
11:00
AM ET
A weekly look at what the San Diego Chargers must fix.

When the Chargers host the New York Jets on Sunday, they will face the No. 1 run defense in the NFL. The Jets are holding teams to just 63 rushing yards per contest.

While the Philip Rivers-led Chargers have not had a problem scoring points, through four weeks San Diego has been the worst running team statistically in the league, averaging just 2.4 yards per carry.

“It’s a good time to get the running game fixed,” said Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, when asked about facing a tough Jets defensive front.

That will be easier said than done for McCoy’s Chargers. San Diego’s offense has suffered more than we expected from the absence of running backs Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead in the last two weeks. Add to that the fact that San Diego played three different starting offensive line combinations in the last four weeks and you can understand why continuity is an issue.

There’s no quick fix to San Diego’s struggles running the football. The only way the Chargers will become more effective is to establish better chemistry and cohesion between running backs Donald Brown and Branden Oliver and the offensive line through repetition, and that takes time.

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich will continue to use the short passing game to create space for his running backs as the Chargers work on running the football better. And the expected return of Mathews from an MCL sprain in a couple of weeks also should help rectify the issue. Mathews ran for a career-high 1,255 yards last season and has a better feel for San Diego’s run scheme.

“We have plenty of talent here,” McCoy said. “We have plenty of talent to run the football. It’s not talent at all. It’s execution. We have to execute better.”
SAN DIEGO -- Four weeks into the regular season, the San Diego Chargers have one of the most explosive passing offenses in the NFL.

McCoy
But the Chargers still can’t run the ball effectively, something head coach Mike McCoy believes can be fixed. McCoy said scheme, play calling and personnel are not to blame for his team’s run-game woes.

It’s all about execution.

The Chargers are averaging a league-worst 2.32 rushing yards per contest.

“I know we can run the football better,” McCoy said. “We will run the football better. We have to run the football better. We just have to do a better job of it on Sundays.”

One of the things McCoy could focus on is getting the ball to Branden Oliver more. The undrafted rookie free agent finished with 56 yards on 13 touches, and could be a guy who can create explosive plays if given some space by the offense line.

“He’s just going to get better with time,” McCoy said about Oliver. “And if we get him a few more creases, there’s going to be some explosive plays, because he’s a strong runner that’s always going north and south.”

However, the Chargers might struggle again running the ball this week, facing the No. 1 run defense in the NFL in the New York Jets, who are holding opposing offenses to 63 rushing yards a contest

“It’s a good time to fix the run game,” McCoy said, when asked about facing a tough Jets run defense.

McCoy said rookie Chris Watt played well in his first snaps with the starting offensive line during a regular-season game. Watt played in 30 snaps, rotating with Johnnie Troutman at right guard.

“Obviously, it’s a long season, so we made the decision to rotate those guys yesterday,” McCoy said. “But I think he did a good job.”

McCoy said besides the muffed snap and false start, center Doug Legursky overall did a nice job for the short amount of time he’s been with the team. McCoy would not say if Rich Ohrnberger would be ready for the Jets on Sunday after missing the game over the weekend against Jacksonville with a back injury.

McCoy also did not provide updates on Shareece Wright’s knee injury or when Ryan Mathews could potentially return from his MCL knee sprain.
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SAN DIEGO -- As the backup quarterback for the San Diego Chargers, Kellen Clemens has a front-row seat to the daily work that Philip Rivers puts in and, ultimately, how he performs on game days.

Clemons had heard about how much Rivers watches tape before his arrival in San Diego as a free agent this past offseason. But after five months spent in close quarters with the North Carolina State product, Clemens has a new-found respect for the guy he backs up.

“He’s constantly thinking about it,” Clemens said. “He’s constantly working on it, playing out scenarios -- that’s where he gains such a great edge over these defenses is his ability to prepare.

“He’s obviously accurate on game day. But he knows what’s going to happen before it happens.”

Rivers played as you would expect an elite quarterback to against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. He finished 29-of-39 (74.4 percent) for 377 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday. Rivers was sacked twice, did not throw an interception and posted a 130.0 passer rating.

It’s the second straight week that Rivers posted at least a 130.0 passer rating (131.4 against Buffalo last week). He threw a touchdown pass for a 24th consecutive game, a new franchise record. Rivers' 300-yard performance was the 35th of his career. He completed passes to six different receivers and finished with six passing plays of 20-plus yards.

While not regularly considered a part of the list when naming the top quarterbacks in the NFL -- Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees -- a quarter of the way through the season Rivers deserves inclusion in the MVP conservation.

Just ask his teammate, defensive co-captain Eric Weddle.

“You look what he can do when he’s protected, and it’s no different than the other top quarterbacks in the league,” Weddle said. “Just because they’ve won Super Bowls and he hasn’t, doesn’t mean he’s not at the same stature. Look at what he’s doing.

“I know what he can do. I see him every day in practice, and I play against the top quarterbacks in the league. No disrespect to them, but I think he’s on par with them.”

Through four games, Rivers has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,155 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception. He’s been sacked five times, posting a 114.5 passer rating.

But most important to Rivers, his lights-out play has resulted in a three-game winning streak and a half-game lead over the Denver Broncos in the AFC West.

“I think if you would have told us we were going to be 3-1 after the first quarter, we would have all said we’ll take that deal,” Rivers said. “We let that one get away [at Arizona], but I think it’s made us tough and stronger. Hopefully we can keep it going.”

But back to the MVP race, Clemens believes his teammate deserves a place at the table.

“It’s Week 4. I don’t know what other guys are doing, but he should certainly be in the conversation, for what he’s done,” Clemens said. “You look at the completion percentage, the touchdowns and he’s having a good year. Hopefully he can keep it going.”

Added Weddle: “When he’s playing that way and we can protect them, he can do anything those other guys can do. And if you don’t think that, then people just don’t know football.”

W2W4: San Diego Chargers

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
9:00
AM ET
The San Diego Chargers (2-1) host the winless Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) at 4:05 p.m. ET at Qualcomm Stadium. Here are three things we’ll be watching for on Sunday.

1. Create explosive plays in the run game: The Chargers are averaging a league-worst 2.43 rushing yards per carry and have to figure out how to create some chunk plays in the run game. While they have struggled to get a push up front, the Chargers have run the ball 98 times compared to 98 passing plays, so offensive coordinator Frank Reich has managed to have balance in terms of play calling. That said, Reich has to figure out how to dial up some explosive plays in the run game, and undrafted rookie free agent Branden Oliver could help with an expanded role against Jacksonville.

2. Pressure Blake Bortles: The Jaguars will start highly touted rookie quarterback Blake Bortles for the first time after playing him in the second half in a blowout loss against Indianapolis last week. At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Bortles is a physical specimen who can make plays with his athleticism. He’s also confident and should provide a boost to Jacksonville’s offense. However, Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano will throw a lot of different looks and blitzes at Bortles to keep him off balance. “There’s not a coordinator in this league that doesn’t want to put pressure on the quarterback,” Pagano said. “But you have to pick and choose and take your right spots.”

3. Play with energy: The Chargers are 13.5-point favorites and coming off back-to-back impressive wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills. And they are dealing with a rash of injuries. So it could be easy to have a lull or dip in their play facing a Jacksonville squad that has struggled through three games. However, San Diego is a veteran unit that understands any NFL team can win if given an opportunity to stay in the game. The Chargers need to play with energy and effort early against the Jaguars and not let them stick around, gaining confidence they can win Sunday.

Cordarro Law ready to contribute

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
8:30
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SAN DIEGO -- Cordarro Law had calls from the Canadian Football League scouts saying he was welcome to come back after he was released by the San Diego Chargers during final roster cuts in August.

But the Chargers provided an opportunity to stick around on the team’s practice squad. And after three weeks of working on the scout team and watching his teammates play on game days, the former CFL standout should get a chance to contribute Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

With San Diego thin at outside linebacker because of injuries to Melvin Ingram (hip) and Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring), Law was signed to the active roster this week.

Expect to see the Southern Mississippi product on the field in passing situations. Law says he’s ready, but he also understands he has to keep things going up front for a unit that has done a good job rushing the passer, totaling seven sacks through three games.

“I definitely have to keep playing at a high level,” Law said. “I can’t let there be a drop off from their play to my play. So I’m definitely going to play at a high level.”

Law led San Diego with 2.5 sacks during exhibition play. Chargers general manager Tom Teleseco signed him to a future contract during the offseason after Law finished with 14 sacks while playing with the Calgary Stampeders last year.

Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano says he’s seen that unique pass-rush ability from Law in practice and during the preseason and expects Law to bring that same type of effort in games.

“He has edge-rush ability,” Pagano said. “For him to come in and learn all of the things at the outside linebacker spot, I think there’s always a transition with that. But he’s a guy who can go put his hand on the ground, get on the edge and put pressure on the quarterback.”
SAN DIEGO – A new player appeared Thursday on this week’s injury report for the San Diego Chargers.

Tight end Ladarius Green was a limited participant with a hamstring injury. Green has not missed a game this season and played in 21 snaps for the Chargers last Sunday, finishing with four catches for 64 yards in the Chargers' victory at Buffalo.

The real test for Green will be if he can fully participate in practice on Friday, and ultimately show San Diego’s training staff that he can move well enough during pregame workouts in order to take the field against Jacksonville on Sunday.

Other than Green, the injury report was the same for San Diego. For a second straight day, outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring), cornerback Jason Verrett (hamstring), running back Ryan Mathews (knee), linebacker Reggie Walker (ankle), center Rich Ohrnberger (back), tight end David Johnson (shoulder) and linebacker Manti Te'o (foot) did not practice.

Players who fully participated in practice on Thursday include receiver Keenan Allen (groin), cornerback Brandon Flowers (hip), safety Marcus Gilchrist (shoulder) and tight end Antonio Gates (hamstring).

Also, the Chargers announced that sponsors picked up the tab for enough tickets to avoid a potential local television blackout of San Diego’s game on Sunday against the Jaguars.
SAN DIEGO -- Some NFL observers wondered if 2013 was an aberration for San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, as he returned to form after uneven performance in 2011 and 2012.

Well, through three week of the NFL regular season, Rivers has been the same guy. He is No. 6 in the NFL in completion percentage at 68.4 percent after leading the league in completion percentage last year at 69.5 percent.

Rivers
 He’s tied for seventh in the NFL in passing yards with 778, tied for fifth in touchdown passes with six and is third in the NFL with a 103.3 passer rating.

Rivers has had great protection up front, only having been sacked twice. And he’s done a nice job of taking care of the football, with one interception and no fumbles through two games.

Basically, Rivers has been efficient and effective in his second season operating in head coach Mike McCoy’s offensive system, even with the switch at offensive coordinator, with Frank Reich moving from quarterbacks coach to the guy calling plays on Sundays.

“One thing I’m not going to do is stand back there and hold onto the ball a long time,” Rivers said, when asked about the fast pace that San Diego plays in the passing game. “Bad things happen when you do that. And so the combination of the no-huddle, trying to speed things up and wear teams out, along with our high-percentage passing game, I think it puts our offensive line in better position.”

Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, the image below shows Rivers having the best completion percentage in the NFL in the past two weeks. The visual shows his passing distance.

Rivers has completed more than 72 percent of his passes in back-to-back games for the eighth time in his career.

The Film Don't Lie: Chargers

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
11:00
AM ET
SAN DIEGO -- A weekly look at what the San Diego Chargers must fix:

When the San Diego Chargers host winless Jacksonville for a Week 4 contest at Qualcomm Stadium, one of the issues San Diego offensive coordinator Frank Reich will attempt to resolve is jump-starting the run game.

The Chargers are averaging a league-worst 2.43 yards per carry. One of the concerns for San Diego is depth. The team’s top two running backs, Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, are not available due to injuries. Donald Brown finished with 31 carries for just 62 yards in a win against Buffalo over the weekend.

In the second half against the Bills, Brown ran the ball 15 times for 7 yards, with seven of those carries going for either 0 or negative yards.

Brown is new to the offense, so establishing cohesion with the offensive line and getting the right read as to where the running lane is going to open up could be an issue. However, Chargers coach Mike McCoy was not buying that as an excuse.

“Donald has played plenty of football,” McCoy said. “To me, inside zone is inside zone, it doesn’t matter where you’re running it. Outside zone is outside zone. Power is power. We just have to do a better job of executing it.”

San Diego also could change up the bread-and-butter plays it uses in the running game, adding more misdirection plays like traps or counters in an attempt to create better blocking angles for the offensive line at the point of attack.

Finally, the Chargers could consider using fullback/tight end David Johnson more. Having a lead blocker at the point of attack could help clear up the trash, giving Brown and the rest of San Diego’s runners a better chance to get positive yards before getting hit at the line of scrimmage. Johnson has played an average of 16 plays in the first three games.
BUFFALO -- Donald Brown said he hadn't carried the ball that many times during a game since his days as a star running back in college at the University of Connecticut.

Well, he better get used to it. With Ryan Mathews out for at least four more weeks with an MCL sprain in his right knee and Danny Woodhead suffering an ankle injury that could potentially end his 2014 season, Brown is the last man standing in the San Diego Chargers' three-headed monster rotation the team touted during training camp.

[+] EnlargeDonald Brown
AP Photo/Bill WippertDonald Brown, the last running back standing from the Chargers' heralded training camp rotation, carried 31 times Sunday.
Brown earned every one of 62 yards on an NFL-high 31 carries. His longest run was 14 yards, but there were a whole lot more 1- and 2-yard runs. The 31 carries were the most for a San Diego running back since LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 131 yards on 31 carries in San Diego's 27-0 win over Oakland on Sept. 11, 2006.

It was just another day at the office for Brown.

"I feel good," Brown said. "I'll probably be sore, but whatever it takes to get a win. We knew it was going to be a grind, and it was."

The 31 carries by Brown was the most he carried the ball in a football game since Dec. 6, 2008, when he rushed 34 times for 189 yards in UConn's loss to Pittsburgh.

Brown also finished with a team-high five receptions for 27 yards. He touched the ball on 36 of San Diego's 63 plays.

"He stepped up big," Chargers receiver Eddie Royal said. "Donald was huge for us, just the way he runs the ball. I mean, he's a physical runner. He can get those tough yards, and you need a running back like that.

"We kind of missed that with Ryan [Mathews]; he's our physical back, but Donald stepped in there and got those tough yards."

Some NFL observers questioned Chargers general manager Tom Telesco's thinking for signing Brown to a three-year, $10.4 million deal as the team's top free-agent acquisition during the offseason. But fast forward to September, and the move appears prophetic for Telesco, with Brown ready to step in as the team's every-down back until others can get healthy.

"You look at the offseason and I didn't wonder -- but some people wondered -- why we went out and got another back," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "They got a couple backs, and thank goodness we did. That's already shown to be a good move here early in the season."

Along with Brown, the Chargers have undrafted rookie free agent Branden Oliver on the active roster and sixth-round selection Marion Grice on the practice squad. San Diego is a team that will lean on the run, so this group will now be pressed into duty moving forward.

However, the next step for San Diego's offense will be creating wider rushing lanes for the hard-running Brown and the rest of the running back group. The Chargers are still averaging a league-worst 2.43 yards per carry. San Diego needs to get back to the way they consistently ran the football last season.

"We have a lot of confidence in Donald," Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "Obviously, we didn't run the ball as well as we wanted to today. The goal was to be patient with it, and you feel like we're going to break through. We'll just keep working at it, and try and get better."

Added San Diego offensive lineman Chad Rinehart: "Obviously, bringing him in as a free agent was a great call. You don't expect to use your third running back that much. And to see that he can carry the load and we can keep carrying on with the run game is great to see. But it's frustrating that the running game is not where it needs to be, or even close to that. Fortunately we got the win, but it definitely needs to improve."
BUFFALO -- A few takeaways from the San Diego Chargers' locker room after the team’s 22-10 win over the Buffalo Bills:

Woodhead
" Chargers coach Mike McCoy provided few specifics on the right ankle injury of running back Danny Woodhead and said the team would run more tests on the injury in San Diego tonight, and he would have an update on Monday.

ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported Woodhead suffered a severe high-ankle sprain with a fractured fibula. The team has not confirmed this report.

If Woodhead and Ryan Mathews are both out for an extended period, San Diego’s running back depth will be tested. The Chargers have just two healthy backs in Donald Brown and Branden Oliver on the active roster, along with rookie Marion Grice on the practice squad.

“Hey, we’re going to keep rolling,” McCoy said when asked about running back depth. “We have to keep going, and we’re not going to make any excuses.”

" The Chargers held talented Buffalo rookie receiver Sammy Watkins to two receptions for 19 yards, a week after he finished with eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown against Miami. Watkins was targeted eight times. Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers finished with four tackles and two pass breakups, along with a dropped potential interception in the third quarter. Flowers said he believes the Chargers have three No. 1 corners in himself, Shareece Wright and rookie Jason Verrett. All three spent time on Watkins. San Diego’s secondary did not allow a wide receiver to catch a pass longer than 18 yards.

“Whoever lines up over you, our job is to not let them catch the ball,” Flowers said. “That’s what we get paid to do as cornerbacks, and we try to do it to the best of our ability when we’re out there."

" Eric Weddle's bone-crushing hit on Buffalo receiver Marquise Goodwin exemplifies the type of toughness San Diego wants to play with each week. So far, defensive coordinator John Pagano's unit has been effective and held teams to 18.3 points per contest.

“I asked if he was all right, and he said he was good,” Weddle said. “But any time you get a hit like that, it’s not only good for the game, but it pumps the team up. And they know when you're going to run a crosser, we'll get you.”

" Philip Rivers had on his trademark bolo tie for his interview with reporters after the game. The bolo tie was a cowboy and a cross, which you can see here.

Rapid Reaction: San Diego Chargers

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
4:06
PM ET

BUFFALO -- A few thoughts on the San Diego Chargers' 22-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Week 3 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

What it means: With the win, San Diego moves to 2-1 on the season. Since 2013, the Chargers are now 5-2 in East Coast games that begin at 10 a.m. PT.

Bolts create explosive plays: The Chargers had six passing plays of 20-plus yards and no passing plays of 40-plus yards heading into the Buffalo game. But that changed on Sunday. Malcom Floyd finished with two 49-yard catches. Eddie Royal had a catch for 23 yards and tight end Ladarius Green finished with catches for 26 and 20 yards.

Stock watch: With Ryan Mathews out due to a knee injury and Danny Woodhead suffering an ankle injury on the first drive, Donald Brown shouldered the running back workload for the Chargers. Brown finished with 62 yards on 31 carries and also had five catches for 27 yards. It’s the most carries Brown has had in a single game in his NFL career.

Energized Chargers: Playing the Seattle Seahawks usually leaves the opposing team bruised and battered afterward. Entering Sunday's game, teams that played the Seahawks went 6-9-1 the following week, dating back to the start of the 2013 season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. (Note: That doesn't count Week 17 of 2013, when the Seahawks played the Rams, who did not make the playoffs.) While the Chargers dealt with their fair share of injuries this week, they traveled across the country and managed to earn a hard-fought road victory after defeating Seattle at home in Week 2.

Game ball: Royal scored both touchdowns for the Chargers in the red zone on 3- and 5-yard receptions. San Diego has struggled in the red zone offensively this year. Royal’s polished route running and toughness proved the difference on both plays. He finished with four receptions for 42 yards.

What’s next: The Chargers head back home to Qualcomm Stadium, where they will host the Jacksonville Jaguars in a Week 4 matchup at 4:05 p.m. ET.

W2W4: San Diego Chargers

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
8:15
AM ET
The San Diego Chargers (1-1) travel to the East Coast to take on the Buffalo Bills (2-0) at 1 p.m. ET at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Here are three things we’ll be watching for on Sunday.

1. Dial up some explosive plays: The Chargers have done a nice job controlling time of possession offensively. San Diego is No. 2 in the NFL in time of possession on offense (35:13). However, the Chargers could do a better job creating explosive plays, which makes it easier to get into scoring position. With penalties, turnovers and just poor execution, it’s hard to expect San Diego’s offense to grind out long, sustained drives every week. The Chargers have six passing plays of 20-plus yards (tied for 13th in the NFL) and no passing plays of 40-plus yards. On the ground, the Chargers have just one run of 20-plus yards (T-14th in the NFL). Offensive coordinator Frank Reich would like to dial up some explosive plays. “Each week, we as a coaching staff we look for a couple of what they would call layups -- a big gainer,” Reich said. “But they’re hard to come by in this league. A lot of those explosive plays are just made by great players doing amazing things, like what Antonio (Gates) did last week.”

2. Toughen up in the red zone: The Chargers are doing a decent job defensively, giving up 19.5 points per game (No. 12 in the NFL). However, defensive coordinator John Pagano would like to do a better job in the red zone. The Chargers have given up touchdowns four out of five times inside the 20-yard line (80 percent), which is second last in the NFL. The Bills are No. 29 in red-zone offense with a 30 percent conversion rate. “We have to do better in the red zone,” Pagano said. “We can’t do the things that we’ve been doing down there. And it starts with me. We made an emphasis on it again this week. We’ve got to make sure that they kick field goals and not score touchdowns. And we can’t have the mental lapses that we’ve had.”

3. Make EJ Manuel beat you: Offensively, the Buffalo Bills have done a nice job leaning on the run game and limiting what Manuel has to do offensively. In his second season, Manuel has been efficient, completing 67 percent of his passes for 375 yards, with two touchdowns and just one interception through two games. However, Manuel has a career 78.5 fourth-quarter passer rating. Pagano has to figure out how to contain Buffalo’s potent run game and make Manuel complete stick throws in tight windows in order for his team to win late in the game.
SAN DIEGO -- With Ryan Mathews out for an extended period with an MCL knee strain, the San Diego Chargers will have to figure out how to replace the production from a player who rushed for 1,255 yards and six touchdowns last season.

"We're definitely a better team with Ryan," Chargers tight end Antonio Gates said. "But we're also a darn good team without him, too. We've just got to find a way to get him healthy. To me, he's still one of the premier backs in this league."

Mathews
While Mathews works diligently to get back on the field, the arduous task of replacing his production will be a group effort by a cadre of running backs that are considered one of the strengths of the offense.

And that effort starts with Donald Brown. The top free agent signing by Chargers general manager Tom Telesco during the offseason, Brown inked a three-year, $10.4 million deal to serve as the complementary back for Mathews.

Brown rushed just nine times for 19 yards in two games. But now the University of Connecticut product will be pressed into the every-down back role for San Diego with Mathews out.

"It will be nice to get more opportunities," Brown said. "The way I look at it, whether it's one carry or all the carries, you just have to make the most of each and every one of them."

Brown
Brown, who grew up in New Jersey, said his parents and sister will drive to Buffalo for the game. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers likes the cerebral approach Brown takes to his preparation for game day.

"Donald's a super, super pro," Rivers said. "He often finds little intricacies in the plan, and asks me questions about them that I may not even have thought of, and that just tells you how hard he studies it."

While Brown handles the workload in the middle of the field, Woodhead maintains his role as San Diego's third-down and red-zone back.

Woodhead finished with 37 touches and seven touchdowns in the red zone last season -- San Diego's most productive running back inside the 20. Woodhead also leads the running back group with 67 snaps through two games.

Rivers trusts Woodhead will be in the right spot on the field, so expect his snap count and touches to increase with Mathews out.

Woodhead
"I'm approaching this week like any other week, and that's just preparing for whenever I may get an opportunity as far as plays or whatever it may be," Woodhead said, when asked about the possibility of an expanded role in the offense. "Whenever I'm supposed to be in, the coaches will tell me I'm in. And that's really what I'm focusing on."

Finally, with Mathews out undrafted rookie free agent Branden Oliver could see his first action during the regular season. Oliver finished with 35 rushes for 161 yards and a touchdown during exhibition play, averaging 4.6 yards per carry.

The road trip is a homecoming of sorts for the cat-quick Oliver, who played at University at Buffalo. Also, if active, expect Oliver to contribute on special teams.

"It means a lot, man," Oliver said, when asked about the chance at playing time. "God is good just for allowing me to have the opportunity to go back there and possibly play for the first time in my career, in the city where I spent five years playing college football. So it's great.

"Buffalo is like my second home, so it's going to be a great feeling."
Good morning.

Robert Mays of Grantland examines the San Diego Chargers’ ball control offense, and how Philip Rivers moved the ball so effectively against one of the best defenses in the NFL.

Mays: “San Diego built the second-best offense in football last year by staying on schedule. Only five teams ran the ball on a higher percentage of first-down plays than the Chargers, who did it 54.2 percent of the time. Ryan Mathews led the league in first-down rushes with 175, averaging 4.15 yards in the start of a process that helped build the offense into a study of efficiency.”

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter Mike Rodak says safety Da'Norris Searcy could be the key to containing Antonio Gates in this video.

According to Nate Silver of Fivethrirtyeight.com the Chargers have a 59 percent chance of making the playoffs.

In this ESPN Insider piece, ESPN NFL handicapper Dave Tuley ranks the Chargers No. 8 in his Vegas NFL power rankings.

Will Brinson of CBS Sports writes that the Chargers’ Super Bowl odds have moved from 40-1 to 20-1.

Ricky Henne of Chargers.com says that rookie running back Branden Oliver is ready if needed.

Jordan Beane of Chargers.com talks with Danny Woodhead about his expanded role in this video.

Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego writes the Chargers’ improved depth has shown up early this season.

Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego says the Chargers have improved their speed on defense through two games.

Michael Burland of Pro Football Focus reviews San Diego’s options at running back with Ryan Mathews out.
SAN DIEGO -- Exposed?

San Diego Chargers players I spoke with appeared unfamiliar with the term in reference to the team's performance against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

According to a report from U-T San Diego, multiple Chargers used that word to describe the vociferous cornerback's play over the weekend.

Sherman
Chargers second-year receiver Keenan Allen publicly expressed the strongest sentiment on Sherman.

"He's just a normal guy," Allen said. "We can go at him. We are not going to shy away from him. He's not really a shutdown corner."

The Chargers completed five passes for 60 yards against Sherman a week after Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers failed to throw a pass to his side in the opener for both teams.

Sherman left the locker room after the game without talking to reporters, but responded in a conversation with reporters in Seattle on Wednesday.

"I played pretty well," Sherman said. "But it's really funny that two little Chargers say I was exposed. One had 50 yards [Allen had five receptions for 55 yards], and one had 60 [Eddie Royal had seven receptions for 69 yards]. It makes you laugh."

Before Sherman's comments were known on Wednesday, receivers in San Diego's locker room spoke glowingly about the most vocal member of the Legion of Boom.

"Richard's a great player," Royal said. "I don't think the game changed my opinion about him. It made me have that much more respect for him, and the way he competes. He's a physical player. He's a smart player, and I think he's as good as advertised.

"He's one of the best in the game, and there's no question about that in anybody's mind."

Added receiver Malcom Floyd: "I wouldn't say he was exposed. I don't know if that's the correct word to use. I just think we did better than the few teams that have played him, and made some plays on him. I think he's one of the best corners in the league. So I wouldn't say he's been exposed."

Safety Eric Weddle echoed similar comments about Sherman on the Jim Rome Show.

"He's going to be targeted every time you go out there -- we all know that," Weddle said. "He knows that. We got a couple catches on him, but like he said, he didn't give up any touchdowns or big plays -- maybe a couple of third downs. But you're going to have to do a lot more than that to be exposed."

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said heading into the contest that he wouldn't shy away from Sherman, and that was the case over the weekend. However, San Diego's veteran quarterback said he's ready to focus on his team's next opponent, the Buffalo Bills.

"We've moved on from that," Rivers said. "Keenan was great. And like I told y'all going in, I thought No. 41 (Byron Maxwell) on the other side was a heck of a corner also."

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