AP Photo/Denis Poroy
QB Philip Rivers leads the Chargers to New England on Sunday.Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and head coach Norv Turner held conference calls with the New England media Wednesday. Here's a handful of noteworthy soundbites on the Patriots:
1. Praise for young tight ends: Asked what stands out about the Patriots in Monday night's win over the Dolphins, Turner made specific reference to New England's second-year tight ends: "The explosiveness of their football team, obviously... you can see where guys really have taken a step up as players. [Rob] Gronkowski and [Aaron] Hernandez were awfully impressive. What they’re doing with that personnel group is awfully impressive and obviously they’ve always been a great passing team, but to add the number of explosive plays really jumped out at you."
2. Expecting the unexpected: Rivers said it's hard to take too much from Monday's game because he knows it's likely the Patriots will modify their defensive game plan against San Diego. "I think any time you play this defense, you’ve got to always be ready for the unexpected," said Rivers. "One thing you know going in is that they’re going to play disciplined football. Obviously, we’ve played them a handful of times, as recent as last year, and they make us earn everything."
3. Rivers on Welker: Rivers and Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker were teammates -- ever so briefly -- in San Diego during the 2004 season (undrafted Welker made San Diego's roster out of training camp, but lasted only one game). "I like Wes a lot and, obviously, I played against Wes when he was at Texas Tech, I think he ran a punt back against us," said Rivers. "He played there just like he does now. He made all the great plays and was just the every down receiver that he is. He ran a punt back that preseason or a kickoff and we hoped he was going to be here for a long time. It didn’t happen. We kind of talked about that at the Pro Bowl as well. Wes has had a great career and continues to have a great career."
4. Turning up the pressure: It's no secret that -- in recent seasons -- one of the ways to disrupt the Patriots offense was to put pressure on quarterback Tom Brady. Turner knows that will be key Sunday. "The teams that have played the best defense against New England -- I look at Detroit in the preseason and I look at the Jets and Baltimore from the last couple of years -- they’ve been able to pressure the quarterback and disrupt Tom [Brady] and that’s what obviously people try to do to our quarterback. When you have a quarterback who plays at the level that Tom Brady is, [if] you can’t pressure him and disrupt him a little bit, you’re going to be in for a long day."
5. Rivers on Belichick: After Belichick talked in the morning about working with Rivers at the Pro Bowl, Rivers offered his take on New England's head coach. "Any time you’re around coach Belichick and that group, and obviously all they’ve done in his career and all they’ve done there in New England, it’s fun to be around and learn from and get to know a little bit," said Rivers. "I know I really enjoyed the week and enjoyed, to a certain extent, getting an idea of how [the Patriots] operate. Obviously, I know it wasn’t anything close to the level, but you still get somewhat of an idea."