San Diego Chargers: Ryan Matthews

Mike McCoy mum on DB competition

November, 29, 2013
SAN DIEGO -- Derek Cox was the last player on the field at Friday’s practice for the San Diego Chargers, working on back pedaling and speed work.

About 30 yards away, San Diego coach Mike McCoy talked with general manager Tom Telesco and team president Dean Spanos. That conversation likely included a decision on if Cox would make his 12th straight start of the season on Sunday against Cincinnati.

However, for now McCoy will not make that decision public.

“We have a very good idea of what we’re doing,” said McCoy, when asked if he had made a decision on who the starting cornerbacks will be after holding an open competition in the secondary this week.

Cox followed suit in the locker room, telling reporters that he did not know what decision had been made.

“I’m not sure, you’ll have to ask Coach [McCoy],” Cox said.

Signed to a four-year, $20 million deal in the offseason, Cox has been benched in three of the past four games. Cox said he’s not letting the uncertainty of his starting job affect his preparation.

“You have to continue to believe in what you’re doing,” Cox said. “Because I’m working hard, and the main thing is to just go out and keep competing, stay positive about what you’re doing and believe in the process. And things will work out your way.”

McCoy did say that whoever starts on Sunday will be the best player to help the Chargers defeat the Bengals.

“It’s like everything else in this business, you can’t worry about the past,” McCoy said. “You’ve got to worry about the future. The future is now, and we’ve got to worry about Sunday. So we’re doing what we think is best moving forward.”

After missing the first two days of practice this week, tight end Antonio Gates (hamstring), center Nick Hardwick (neck) and safety Darrell Stuckey (concussion) returned to practice on Friday.

Gates and Hardwick are probable, and Stuckey is questionable.

Along with Stuckey, Jarret Johnson (hand) and Eddie Royal (chest/toe) are questionable. Royal hasn’t practiced since injuring his toe against Indianapolis on Oct. 14, but has played in every game since.

Johnson missed last week’s game at Kansas City with the hand injury, but is hopeful to play on Sunday. Johnson, who has a soft cast on his left hand, said he played six games with a similar injury while with the Ravens.

“It sucks,” Johnson said. “You’re limited to what you can do. But you always want to play.”

Left tackle King Dunlap was a limited participant in practice for a second straight day, but is listed as doubtful, which means D.J. Fluker likely will get his third start at left tackle.

Fluker (knee), receiver Seyi Ajirotutu (hamstring), defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe), defensive end Corey Liuget, running back Ryan Mathews (hamstring), and long snapper Mike Windt (ankle) all practiced and are probable for Sunday’s game.

McCoy would not say if outside linebacker Melvin Ingram will be activated for Sunday’s game. Ingram practiced for a second straight week, but remains on the physically unable to perform [PUP] list. The chargers have until Dec. 10 to place Ingram on the active roster or keep him on the reserve PUP list.

“We know what we’re doing,” McCoy said about Ingram. “And we’ll let everybody know. And he’s taking it one day at a time.”

Also, Philip Rivers was named the FedEx Air Player of the Week and receiver Keenan Allen won Pepsi Rookie of the Week honors for their performance against Kansas City last week.

“Philip had another outstanding game, and Keenan’s been getting better every week, so they both deserve it,” McCoy said.
SAN DIEGO – Quarterback Philip Rivers still appeared a bit annoyed to have to answer questions about the San Diego Chargers' struggles scoring from the goal line this season.

"You just got to score," he said. "There's not going to be any magic that we dream up here in the next, few days. We've just got to score, find a way to score. It's really nothing more than that."

[+] EnlargeKeenan Allen
John McDonnell/The Washington PostPhillip Rivers missed Keenan Allen on third down -- forcing the Chargers to settle for a field goal.
The Chargers failed to get into the end zone from a yard out on three straight downs for the winning score against the Washington Redskins last week, a contest the team lost in overtime, 30-24.

For the season, according to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chargers are a league-worst 2-of-11 from a yard out.

San Diego's goal-line struggles remained a hot-button topic on local sports radio shows, the internet and even nationally, with Michael Wilbon of ESPN's "Pardon The Interruption" saying San Diego's coaching staff was guilty of the worst play calling in the history of the NFL in the team's final three plays at the 1-yard line.

Rivers is ready to put the issue to rest.

"Those are all things for talk shows, to be honest with you," Rivers said. "If I had the answer, we'd score. So we're going to keep playing each week. That's why you play the game, is to try and score the next time. It's not just, ‘Oh, we just figured out the play. We'll get it there next week.' Scoring, and getting first downs and throwing completions, there isn't really an answer to it. If there were, we could just do interviews, and we could decide the outcome of the game without going out there."

The team's leading rusher, Ryan Mathews has just one rushing touchdown this season. Asked if he'd like to see the ball more near the goal line, Mathews was diplomatic.

"Any of us can get in -- me, Danny [Woodhead], Ronnie [Brown] or Le'Ron [McClain] -- we have a lot of weapons on offense," he said. "So it's probably hard for the coaches to see which one they want to go to.

"We've just got to execute. It doesn't matter what play is called. We've just got to execute and score."

Reminded that he scored 39 touchdowns in college at Fresno State, Mathews had this to say:

"This ain't college," he said. "This is the pros, man."

Injury update: Linebacker Donald Butler said he felt good being out on the field for practice on Wednesday after missing the last three games with a groin injury.

Butler also missed a game against Tennessee earlier this season because of the groin issue. He said part of the reason the training staff has taken a cautious approach is to make sure he doesn't have a problem with the injury for the remainder of the season.

"That was the whole point in me taking as long as I have, to make sure when I came back [I was fully healthy]," Butler said. "And nothing has been decided yet. But just the fact that I was able to go out there and run full speed, kind of cut [is good], and I'll see how I feel tomorrow."

Butler was listed as a limited participant on San Diego's injury report.

Along with Butler, defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe) and offensive lineman Chad Rinehart (toe) were limited participants. Linebacker Tourek Williams (thumb) was a full participant.

Offensive lineman Mike Remmers (ankle) and receiver Eddie Royal (toe) did not practice.

Upon Further Review: Chargers Week 3

September, 23, 2013
An examination of four hot issues from the San Diego Chargers' 20-17 loss at the Tennessee Titans:

Offensive line woes: San Diego headed into Sunday’s contest already down an offensive lineman when D.J. Fluker was ruled out because of a concussion. Michael Harris played solid in place of Fluker at right tackle. But the Chargers potentially lost two more starters up front against Tennessee. San Diego coach Mike McCoy told reporters after the game left tackle King Dunlap had a concussion. Left guard Chad Rinehart also had a turf toe injury in the second half and did not return. Already thin up front, the Chargers do not have enough quality depth to withstand that many starters being out heading into next week’s Dallas game.

[+] EnlargeRonnie Brown
AP Photo/Mark ZaleskiRonnie Brown's touchdown was San Diego's first rushing score in almost a year.
Throw to score, run to win: While the Chargers have one of the top passing offenses in the NFL through three games, they still have trouble consistently running the ball. San Diego’s struggles to move the chains late to close out games can be partially attributed to the team’s inconsistent ground game. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Ronnie Brown's 1-yard touchdown run in the second half was San Diego’s first rushing touchdown since Week 5 against the Saints last year. That’s a head-scratching statistic. The Chargers finished with a respectable 102 rushing yards against Tennessee. Ryan Mathews led the way with 58 rushing yards on 16 carries. Third-down back Danny Woodhead added 31 yards on the ground and had seven catches for 55 yards. But the Chargers failed to successfully run the ball when it mattered most -- at the end of the game.

Turnover drought: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says that one of his primary philosophies is “It’s all about the ball” -- meaning take care of it on offense and look for ways to create turnovers on defense. Through the first three games, San Diego has struggled in one of the top indicators on whether a team will win or lose: turnover differential. San Diego has created one turnover through three games, which is among the worst in the league. However, the Chargers did create a sudden-change situation when Tennessee punter Brett Kern fumbled the snap, recovering his own fumble at Tennessee’s 30-yard line. The Chargers turned that opportunity into a Nick Novak 44-yard field goal. The Chargers have a minus-3 turnover differential through three weeks.

Third down struggles: Heading into Sunday’s contest, the Chargers were converting an impressive 58.6 percent of their opportunities on third down, tops in the NFL. But against Tennessee, the Chargers finished just 3-of-9 on third down, including being 0-for-3 in the first half. Just a week ago, San Diego ran a season-high 79 plays against an up-tempo Philadelphia offense. However, that same offense managed just 53 plays compared to 68 plays for Tennessee. The Titans’ ability to effectively run the football also led to a 31:38 to 28:22 edge in time of possession.