NFL Nation: Malcolm Floyd

SAN DIEGO – Even after practice ended, Manti Te’o still wanted more work.

So while teammates exited the field, Te’o focused on form tackling and explosion with a tackling pad.

“You guys should get a picture of that,” fellow linebacker Bront Bird told a line of photographers as he walked to the locker room.

Inactive for the first three games due to a foot injury, Te’o was a full participant in practice for the first time since suffering the injury in the team’s first preseason game. He appears ready to play in his first regular-season game on Sunday.

“That’s the goal,” Te’o said. “So once coach [Mike McCoy] gives me that green light, I’ll be ready.”

Te’o said the hardest part has been putting in the work on the practice field during the week, only to have to watch his teammates go out and play on Sundays without him.

“Sundays are the time to have fun,” he said. “You do all your work throughout the week during practice, you get all of your mistakes out and you grind during the week. And Sundays are that celebration at the end. So I finally get to go out there now.”

Right guard Jeromey Clary said he suffered a clavicle injury during the opening quarter against Tennessee, but played through it in part because the Chargers didn’t have anybody else to put in. Left tackle King Dunlap and left guard Chad Rinehart also had left the game with injuries, leaving San Diego with no backup offensive linemen.

“I didn’t feel great,” Clary said. “But I was still able to go, so I finished it out. At times maybe there were things that I couldn’t do as well as I wanted to, and it was evident on my part – I don’t know if anyone else noticed. But I wasn’t happy with what was going on. But it was the best thing to do.”

Clary said he is day-to-day, and he doesn’t know if he’ll play on Sunday.

“I’m going to go home and get some rest,” Clary said. “Hopefully I’ll sleep really good tonight, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Along with Clary, Dunlap (concussion) and Rinehart (toe) did not practice. Center Nick Hardwick (shin) was a limited participant in practice, as was pass-rusher Dwight Freeney (not injury related).

Full participants for the Chargers included Te’o, middle linebacker Donald Butler (groin) and right tackle D.J. Fluker (concussion), who returned to the field after missing last week’s game.

Receiver Malcom Floyd (neck) and cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring) also did not practice. After meeting with doctors to evaluate Floyd’s situation on Tuesday, McCoy said the team still is figuring out the right plan of action.

“We have a good idea what’s going on with him,” McCoy said. “But we’ve just got to make sure we’re doing exactly what’s right for him and his situation. And we’re looking for him to get back out here as soon as he can.”

Rapid Reaction: Chargers 33, Eagles 30

September, 15, 2013

PHILADELPHIA -- A few thoughts on the San Diego Chargers' 33-30 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles:

What it means: San Diego avoided the ignominy of losing a second consecutive game after having a double-digit lead in the second half. That would have been rough. The probability of making the playoffs drops significantly if a team starts the season 0-2 as opposed to 1-1.

San Diego won with offense despite two turnovers in the red zone. It controlled the clock, converted on third down (10-for-15) and kept the Eagles' fast-paced offense off the field. The Eagles tied the game at 30-30 with 1:51 remaining, but the Chargers marched down the field with ease to set up the game-winning field goal.

No Floyd: On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers targeted wide receiver Malcom Floyd for the sixth time in the game. Floyd caught all five passes thrown his way in the first half, gaining 102 yards and averaging 20.4 yards per catch. On his sixth target, Floyd had the ball in his hands but had Eagles safety Nate Allen on his back. As Allen tried to make the tackle, linebacker DeMeco Ryans’ shoulder made contact with Floyd’s head and neck. Floyd was on the ground motionless for several minutes. Floyd was taken off the field on a stretcher. He suffered a neck injury and did not return.

Best defense is a good offense: The Eagles ran 53 plays in the first half against Washington in Week 1. They didn’t get that opportunity against San Diego. The Chargers' offense was methodical and efficient and controlled the clock. Philadelphia ran 30 plays in the first half. San Diego ran 34. Through the first three quarters, San Diego had the ball for more than double the amount of time the Eagles did. The drive that broke a 20-20 tie took 17 plays and more than eight minutes.

Rivers has a big game: Rivers was exceptional early. He completed his first 10 passes of the game and 16-of-18 in the first half (for 216 yards and a touchdown). Rivers’ first-half passer rating was 135.2. Rivers had a ton of time in the pocket and consistently took advantage of a weak secondary.

What’s next: The Chargers will make another cross-country trip for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff next weekend when they play at the Tennessee Titans.
The Philadelphia Eagles will be without starting cornerback Bradley Fletcher (concussion) for Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers.

That raises a couple of issues.

The most obvious is how defensive coordinator Bill Davis replaces Fletcher. He can move nickel corner Brandon Boykin outside and likely will much of the time. But that could mean putting the 5-foot-9 Boykin on the 6-5 Malcom Floyd while also weakening the Eagles in the slot.

“I get this so much,” Boykin said. “Regardless of what your height is, you have to go out and get it done. Every week, I’m going to face people that are taller than me. They switch their guys up. I might have to go against Antonio Gates, their tight end. That’s not a challenge to me. I’m ready for it. I demand greatness from myself when the ball is in the air.”

Davis said Wednesday the Eagles would “practice it a couple different ways, but that would be our first move, probably.”

The other options are problematic. Brandon Hughes practiced this week, but he has been sidelined for nearly three weeks with a broken hand. Rookie Jordan Poyer has shown promise, but he was immediately targeted for a Robert Griffin III touchdown pass when he came in Monday night. Shaun Prater has been with the team only two weeks and was inactive Monday.

“All the guys that we just picked up are doing a great job of studying,” Davis said, which suggests Prater isn’t ready to play yet.

That brings us to the other issue. It is almost unfair to compare this year’s defense to last year’s. It is an entirely new scheme with new starters at six positions. So it probably wouldn’t mean much that Philip Rivers is exactly the kind of quarterback that destroyed the Eagles the past couple of years -- smart, accurate, able to spot the weak link and exploit it.

Passer ratings against the Eagles last year looked like IQ scores at a Mensa meeting: Griffin (158.3), Tony Romo (150.5), Matt Ryan (137.4), Eli Manning (134.5), Drew Brees (137.4).

Take a starting corner out and those problems seem more likely to carry over into this game. The Eagles defense was impressive in the first half against Griffin, but he completed 25 of 38 passes for 276 yards (93.8 rating) in the second half.

Davis moves his corners around as needed, so he could try to get the 6-1 Cary Williams on Floyd and Boykin on the 5-10 Eddie Royal. Hughes (5-11) and Poyer (6-0) are likely to play based on their effectiveness.

San Diego setting the right tone early

September, 16, 2012
ChargersChristopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireSan Diego's defense dominated Tennessee and held the Titans to 212 yards.
SAN DIEGO -- Every year the San Diego Chargers seem to set a tone early in the season.

It’s been only two games, but the Chargers deserve to be excited about what has happened so far. Despite being riddled by injuries on offense, they pushed their record to 2-0 with a convincing 38-10 win over Tennessee on a blazing day by the sea.

“It’s safe to say, after two weeks, that all it is, that this is the best start we’ve had around here in awhile,” Philip Rivers said. “We’ve made some mistakes but really both sides of the ball have been good.”

“Attention to details,” San Diego linebacker Takeo Spikes said. ”Credit goes to the coaching staff.”

We haven’t heard those words attached to Norv Turner lately. In the first few years of his tenure that started in 2007, the Chargers seemed to mostly start poorly only to turn it around late. Last year San Diego began 4-1, but it rarely looked good in the process and then the team went on a six-game tailspin.

What was most impressive about San Diego on Sunday, as was the case in a 22-14 win at Oakland last Monday night, was that it had dominant, smart and timely play by Rivers and that it was aggressive, hard-nosed, and physical on defense. Those were major goals for this team going in this season.

Rivers had his worst NFL campaign in 2011 (he improved after a tough first 10 games) and the defense often betrayed the Chargers, especially on third-down conversions, where they ranked last in the league. On Sunday the Chargers held Tennessee to 1-of-9 on third down.

“Last year, we were 4-1, but it didn’t feel right,” Rivers said. “Everything was a grind. We had to grind for first downs and we had to ground for stops. This feels different.”

It’s vital for this season to be different because this entire team is on the hot seat. Turner was kept by ownership -- despite the urging from much of the fan base -- because the players like and believe in him. The team also didn’t think there was a candidate better suited to lead the Chargers than Turner. But things will change quickly if they fail to make the playoffs for the third year in a row.

With an eighth of the season in the books, San Diego looks like it is serious about keeping Turner around. The Chargers have seen the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders stumble badly and both teams deserve their 0-2 starts. The Denver Broncos, however, were impressive in Peyton Manning's debut last week and they play at Atlanta on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” to end Week 2.

But the Chargers showed Denver they are not going to concede anything to Manning.

They quietly changed the culture of the team by bringing in more than a dozen veterans. The Chargers’ depth has been a problem in recent years and adding quality players throughout the roster was the approach general manager A.J. Smith took this offseason.

The free-agent acquisitions are already paying off for the Chargers, who played without four offensive starters. Tight end Dante Rosario, playing because star Antonio Gates was out with a rib injury, caught three touchdown passes from Rivers. Former Kansas City running back Jackie Battle added 69 yards rushing yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries as the Chargers continued to plug along without starting running back Ryan Mathews.

“I’ve said that all the new guys we brought in this year really add something,” Rivers said. “They are all guys who love football and they really help this team. Today, we saw guys like Rosario and Battle just come in do things when we needed them. We’re just very steady now.”

In addition to Gates and Mathews (they both should be back next week against visiting Atlanta barring setbacks), San Diego is playing without left tackle Jared Gaither and promising receiver Vincent Brown. Undrafted rookie Mike Harris is playing for Gaither. Brown will be back in about six weeks and there is no timetable for Gaither’s return.

Still, the San Diego offense is clicking. After going 1-for-5 in the red zone at Oakland, the Chargers were 5-for-6 against Tennessee.

“It’s all because of [Rivers],” said San Diego receiver Malcom Floyd, who had a game-high six catches for 109 yards. “We have guys out, but he keeps us all together and he makes the plays. He gets this offense going.”

However, the Chargers have been much more than an offensive show in 2012. The defense has been outstanding, even suffocating.

The Chargers have completely bottled up star tailbacks Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson. Last week, McFadden was held to 32 yards on 15 carries. Sunday, Johnson had 17 yards on eight carries and the Titans totaled 38 yards on 10 attempts on the ground.

San Diego’s defense is building an identity. It is swarming, physical and mean. This was a stagnant group last season under the fired Greg Manusky, but linebackers coach John Pagano was promoted and the improvements have been dramatic and immediate.

“The defense has been great,” Rivers said. “Offensively, we had some lulls at times, but they just kept plugging and plugging … That’s what good teams do.”

And for the first time in September under Turner, the Chargers can truly say they are a good team.

Any team with Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver would seem to be set at the position, or close to it.

But as Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. explained when we discussed receivers Tuesday, there's a reason Mario Manningham made the key reception for the New York Giants against New England in the most recent Super Bowl.

"They talked about Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl saying, 'Give them Manningham,' and then Manningham makes that crazy catch," Muench said. "That was because they didn't want Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz to beat them."

The concept, explored further in the "First Take" video above, could justify any decision Arizona might make to select a wide receiver, most likely Michael Floyd, with the 13th overall choice in the draft Thursday.

A few more thoughts on the Cardinals' options, lifted from my conversation with Muench ...

Sando: You like where the 49ers stand in this draft. What about Arizona?

Muench: The Cardinals are not in a bad spot. They are going to get Michael Floyd or Riley Reiff, the way I see it. And really, I don't think you are upset about either one of those picks. To me, it's Buffalo and Arizona. What Buffalo does, Arizona will take the other player. Buffalo needs a tackle and would like to get a playmaking wide receiver. The same for Arizona.

Sando: I've felt as though improved quarterback play would be the key to maximizing the Cardinals' existing weapons. That might be the case, but your point on Manningham and the Giants resonated, too.

Muench: Kansas City tried to get Jonathan Baldwin to play next to Dwayne Bowe. San Diego had some success with Malcolm Floyd and Vincent Jackson. It's what those guys make defenses do in coverage and also to defend the run. When you have two guys on the outside, it's tough.

Sando: Arizona used third-round choices for Andre Roberts and Early Doucet. Without a second-round choice this year, those are the types of receivers that might be available to them if Reiff is the choice in the first round.

Muench: The Cardinals haven't had that guy to draw attention away from Fitzgerald. Steve Breaston was a good complimentary receiver, a good sub-package receiver, but he was not going to force a coordinator to make a tough decision. Floyd could do that.

Sando: OK, then, let's say your theory plays out, but the Bills take Floyd.

Muench: Riley Reiff would start at right tackle from day one. I don't think he's a left tackle, but some of Matt Kalil's weaknesses are Reiff's strengths. He is a tough, hard-nosed guy -- not the most athletic, but he finds a way to get it done and is tough in the run game. Sort of like the Jon Runyans of the NFL. He immediately makes you better and starts for years.

Sando: Best-case scenario, then, which player would the Cardinals get at No. 13?

Muench: With no second-ronder, from a roster standpoint you would almost rather them get Reiff because it's a deeper receiver class and you could find some guys in the third round to come in and contribute, like a Brian Quick from Appalachian State. He has a lot to work on, but if he realizes his potential, he's going to be a starter on the outside.

Vincent Jackson by the numbers

March, 13, 2012
I shared my thoughts Monday on why I think San Diego wide receiver Vincent Jackson could be a perfect fit for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In short, he’d give them a legitimate No. 1 receiver and a deep threat.

But let’s turn to ESPN Stats & Information to elaborate a little more on what Jackson brings to the table. Of all the receivers with a minimum of 100 receptions since 2008, Jackson ranks third with an average of 18 yards per catch. Only Mike Wallace (18.8) and Malcolm Floyd (18.5) had higher averages.

Since 2008, Jackson has 37 catches on passes thrown more than 20 yards downfield. That ranks No. 4 in the NFL. Jackson’s 11 touchdowns on throws of 20 yards or more in that same span tie him for No. 6 in the NFL.

Last season, 54 of Jackson’s 60 receptions resulted in a first down. That’s a 90-percent conversion rate. Floyd, his teammate, was the only receiver with at least 40 catches to post a better conversion rate (95.3 percent).
Random thoughts from the Chargers’ 20-7 win at Dallas on Sunday night:
  • I like the way Ryan Mathews ran the ball. Give him credit He ran hard and he is making strides after starting training camp slow because of poor conditioning. He was terrific on a 15-yard touchdown run. He had 35 yards rushing on seven carries.
  • Sixth-round pick Jordan Todman continues to look good. He had 27 yards on five carries, and he had a big play nullified by a penalty. He could be in the mix on third downs.
  • Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson are ready to play Minnesota. The game is in three weeks. But this pass-catch combination is set. Rivers completed 8 of 11 passes for 92 yards. Jackson had three catches for 49 yards.
  • With starter Antonio Gates out as a precaution, veteran backup Randy McMichael showed he his value. He had three catches for 24 yards, including a nifty 7-yard touchdown catch.
  • San Diego head coach Norv Turner has said the key to not starting slow again is to avoid committing turnovers early in the season. Turner has to be pleased San Diego did not commit a turnover in this game.
  • Corey Liuget is going to make lot of plays. The No. 18 overall draft pick has been explosive and he has been beating his opponent routinely. Expect him to make his presence known as a starter at defensive end as a rookie. He had a sack
  • Backup defensive lineman Vaughn Martin is making strides. He had two sacks Sunday, He has been a long-term project and the former Canadian college player is starting to live up to his potential. Perhaps we’ll see him as a rotational player this season.
  • Overall, San Diego’s defense played strong for the second straight game. Dallas’ first-team offense did have one dominant drive. But this was a solid outing for Greg Manusky’s unit.
  • Starting receiver Malcom Floyd left the game with a concussion. He will be monitored. The NFL takes concussion treatment extremely serious. So, I wouldn’t be shocked if Floyd doesn’t play next week.
  • After an eight-tackle performance last week, rookie free-agent linebacker Darryl Gamble had two tackles Sunday.
Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' trade for Kevin Kolb and contract agreement with veteran center Lyle Sendlein (thank you, ESPN's Adam Schefter).

More thoughts:
  • Challenging perception: The Cardinals have taken criticism for what has been portrayed as unwillingness to pay Marc Bulger last offseason after reaching agreement with Derek Anderson. To review, the timing worked out poorly for Arizona. The team considered acquiring Charlie Whitehurst, then decided to sign Anderson while he remained available. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rams were waiting to release Bulger, a player the Cardinals otherwise would have targeted. After adding Anderson, the Cardinals weren't going to pay similar money for Bulger, despite apparent pleas from coach Ken Whisenhunt. Whether or not the criticism was valid, the Cardinals aren't holding back now. Perhaps a 5-11 disaster season gave Whisenhunt the power he needed. Whatever the case, if the five-year, $63 million contract Kolb plans to sign does include more than $20 million in guarantees, as advertised, it's tougher to say the organization is afraid to spend on a quarterback, even an unproven one.
  • Offensive focus: Arizona is transforming its offense. Third-round pick Rob Housler projects as a receiving tight end. Veteran Jeff King, who agreed to terms with Arizona recently after beginning his career in Carolina, projects as more of a blocker. Ryan Williams, a surprise pick in the second round, projects as a running back with big-play ability. The offense has evolved significantly. The team could use a speed receiver after Steve Breaston left for Kansas City, but San Diego's Malcolm Floyd apparently isn't on their radar, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic noted.
  • Jump start?: After a quiet start to the negotiating period, the Cardinals appear to be operating with urgency as the signing period approaches Friday. Kolb's addition was a big step. Keeping Sendlein was a key for a line that needs to move forward, not take steps in the other direction. Sendlein has quietly become a consistent, solid contributor on the line. He and newcomer Daryn Colledge, formerly of Green Bay, should help the line develop more of an enduring identity. I still think the Cardinals could use help at tackle, but that doesn't appear to be a priority.

The Cardinals also reached agreement with former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Nick Eason. His ties to new defensive coordinator Ray Horton made this a natural fit. Eason, 31, has started five games in each of the last two seasons.
The long-expected divorce between the San Diego Chargers and Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson has likely been delayed until 2012 at the earliest.

In a move that seemed impossible six months ago, but expected in recent weeks, the Chargers did their due diligence by placing the franchise tag on Jackson. Assuming the tag will be part of the next labor agreement, this move virtually assures Jackson will remain with the Chargers in 2011.

The Chargers could still trade Jackson, at least in theory, but that would require another team parting with a huge package of draft choices and cash in the form of a long-term deal. San Diego couldn't get a first-rounder for Jackson last season, so a trade seems highly unlikely at this point.

Don't expect Jackson to balk at this decision even though players often aren't pleased to get the franchise tag. Jackson stands to earn more than $10 million in 2011 under the tag. He netted just more than $200,000 last season after paying fines and missing games, so the increase will be welcome.

Jackson will most likely have to wait until 2012 to get the long-term contract he has desired for more than a year. The Chargers have been reluctant to give him such a deal because of off-field issues.

The franchise tag gives Jackson another year to show the team he can stay on the straight and narrow. If he has a big year on the field and a quiet one off it, the Chargers could reward him with a long-term deal, recognizing his tremendous talent and special on-field chemistry with quarterback Philip Rivers. The Chargers missed Jackson's combination of size, speed and skill while he held out for more than half of the 2010 season.

Now that Jackson is franchised, the Chargers will have several other free agents to address, including fellow starting receiver Malcom Floyd, running back/returner Darren Sproles, linebacker Stephen Cooper, linebacker Kevin Burnett and safety Eric Weddle.
NFC: Cardinals | Saints | Vikings | Cowboys AFC: Jets | Chargers | Ravens | Colts

A look at a player who could be a difference-maker this weekend.

Chargers receiver Malcolm Floyd could play a major role in San Diego’s AFC divisional playoff game Sunday against the visiting Jets.

Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireSan Diego Chargers receiver Malcolm Floyd is quietly averaging 17.2 yards per catch this season.
The Jets had the No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL in the regular season. New York features shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis. If Revis is on No.1 San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson, watch for San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers to go to Floyd to ignite the passing game.

Floyd is the type of player that can open up San Diego’s passing game. The 6-foot-5 Floyd has become a major vertical threat for San Diego. Floyd, 28, developed this season and his progress helped prompt San Diego to cut starting receiver Chris Chambers in November.

Floyd has gotten better as the season has gone on. He had 45 catches this season and averaged 17.2 yards per catch. When he was the team’s top receiver in Week 17 against Washington (Jackson was being rested for the playoffs), Floyd had nine catches for 140 yards.

Rivers has many weapons to pick from. He has Jackson, tight end Antonio Gates, receiver Legedu Naanee and running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles.

But Floyd is a special weapon because of his size and speed. He creates matchup issues. With New York having to account so many offensive options, watch for Floyd to try to burn New York deep a couple of times during the course of the game.

Quick Take: Jets at Chargers

January, 10, 2010
Three things to know about next Sunday's divisional playoff game between the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers in Qualcomm Stadium:

1. Ryan-Turner Bowl: In 2007, San Diego general manager A.J. Smith choose Norv Turner over Rex Ryan to replace Marty Schottenheimer as head coach. Many league observers criticized Smith for the choice. It is difficult to argue that Smith made the wrong choice. Turner has led San Diego to a 13-3 record and he is a legitimate NFL coach of the year candidate. Expect Ryan, a defensive guru, and Turner, an offensive expert, to take different approaches this week. It wouldn’t be a shock if the brash Ryan makes some proclamations this week, as he has been known to do in his short Jets tenure. There is virtually no chance even-keeled Turner will make any controversial comments as he prepares to face the man who he was chosen over.

2. Chargers need to stop the run: If there is a way to beat San Diego, which has won an NFL-high 11 straight games, it is on the ground. San Diego was attacked on the ground in several games this season. San Diego finished the season 20th in the NFL in run defense. It allowed 117.8 rushing yards per game. New York will be ready to run at San Diego. The Jets had the No. 1 rush offense in the NFL during the regular season. New York averaged 172.2 yards a game (4.5 yards per carry). If the Jets can continue their ground success, they will stay in this game, eating up clock and keeping San Diego’s potent offense off the field.

3. Chargers will challenge Revis: Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is entering this game as perhaps the most-dangerous defensive player in the postseason. He is a proven shutdown cornerback. However, expect San Diego to have answers. If Revis sticks on No. 1 San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson all game, the Chargers will just go to other options. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has done a brilliant job of spreading the ball around his talented offense. If Revis locks down Jackson, Rivers will rely on tight end Antonio Gates, receivers Malcolm Floyd and Legedu Naanee and running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles. Revis will make his presence felt, but the Chargers will find a way to move the ball through the air.

Halftime notes from Dallas

December, 13, 2009
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Chargers lead the Cowboys, 10-3:

  • San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers survived a rare mistake when Dallas couldn’t capitalize on an interception at the Chargers’ 27 late in the first half. Dallas missed a field goal.
  • The Cowboys are running the ball on the Chargers and their battered defensive line. But the Chargers came up huge in the second quarter with a goal-line stand.
  • Rivers is targeting No. 2 receiver Malcolm Floyd often. He has two catches for 31 yards, but he was the intended receiver on a big pass interference play on San Diego's touchdown drive.
  • San Diego tight end Antonio Gates has one catch for 7 yards after catching 15 passes for 285 yards in the past two games.
  • San Diego linebacker Brandon Siler continued his hot play with a sack of Tony Romo.
  • If the Chargers win, they will be in great shape. Both Denver and Cincinnati lost, so the Chargers will be in line for the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

Midseason Report: Chargers

November, 11, 2009
Posted by’s Bill Williamson

Power Rankings: Preseason: 5. This week: 12.

2009 Schedule/Results

Where they stand: The 5-3 Chargers are in decent shape to make a run at the playoffs. They may not be in great shape for a top seed, which was expected, but the Chargers are looking solid, especially after three straight wins. The Chargers look better than they did at the midseason point the past couple of seasons. They are within range of surprise AFC West leader Denver. The Chargers ended the first half with a huge, last-second win at the New York Giants. It was San Diego’s first win this season against a team with a winning record.

AP Photo/Denis Poroy
Malcolm Floyd has stepped up his game to give Philip Rivers another option in the passing game.
Disappointments: It has to be the running game. The Chargers have been at the bottom of the league in rushing all season. Halfway through the season, San Diego is ranked dead last in the NFL, averaging 69.6 yards per game. LaDainian Tomlinson, 30, has not been productive. He has only 289 yards rushing. The blocking hasn’t been great, but he has lost a step. The Chargers' offense is all the passing game, led by quarterback Philip Rivers. Unless the running game gets going, the pressure is going to be on Rivers to continue to carry the offense.

Surprises: Malcolm Floyd has emerged as the No. 2 receiver opposite Vincent Jackson, who has developed into a top-flight receiver this season. Floyd’s emergence allowed the Chargers to cut struggling veteran Chris Chambers, who was claimed by Kansas City. Defensively, safety Steve Gregory has become a solid nickelback and has been effective as a blitzer.

Outlook: The Chargers should stay in the playoff hunt in the second half. They have four games remaining against teams with a winning record in the first half. If the Chargers can run the ball better, be more productive in the red zone on offense and continue their recent surge on defense, they should at least be a wild-card contender. The Chargers are not an elite team heading into the second half, but they are a dangerous team that will have to be reckoned with late in the season.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

SAN DIEGO -- Veteran running back LaDainian Tomlinson was tutoring rookie Gartrell Johnson often in the morning session. Johnson asked Tomlinson questions after several plays.

The stout Johnson, from Colorado State, was drafted by San Diego in the fourth round. He will give the Chargers a power running presence.

  • Malcolm Floyd was not at the mandatory camp. He is a restricted free agent who has not signed his tender. Because Floyd, a reserve receiver, doesn't have much choice, expect him to eventually sign and report.
  • Quarterback Philip Rivers said first-round pick Larry English, a pass rushing linebacker, looked good in practice. English said his locker is next to Shawne Merriman's locker.
  • There is no update on a potential contract extension for Rivers. He is signed through this season.
  • Defensive end Vaughn Martin was closely watched by the media Friday. He looked fast and he is clearly big and strong. He was a surprise fourth-round choice of Western Ontario. He is raw, but he is an interesting project.




Sunday, 2/2