Week 17 Injury Report – Chargers @ Raiders

Alas, the last injury report of the regular season

Lorenzo Neal is still out with his fractured fibula.

Marques Harris broke his hand against Denver and needs surgery, but is not expected to miss any playing time although he did not participate in practice thus far this week.

Nate Kaeding has a bruised fibula (hopefully only bruised) and also did not participate in practices this week.  The injury is on his plant leg and was bothering him during the Denver game; however, it did not cause him to miss any of his FGs or XPs.

Jamal Williams also did not participate with a hip/ankle injury.

Brandon Siler’s shoulder and Luis Castillo’s ankle did not seem to be troublesome as they both were active in practices.

Marques Harris

(Marques Harris)

Week 16 Post Game Report

Chargers 23, Broncos 3 (collectively this season Chargers 64, Broncos 6)

Let me start by saying that I am sick to death of hearing about how great Denver WAS….get it, WAS….are you listening Tony Kornheiser….WAS.  Jay Cutler is no John Elway.  WAS WAS WAS not IS…..O.K….on to the recap.

With Willie Parker’s broken leg this week and Adrian Peterson’s paltry 27-yd outing Sunday against the Redskins, LaDainian Tomlinson is very well poised to earn his 2nd consecutive rushing title (much like the Chargers’ 2nd consecutive AFC West title…..and 3rd in 4 years….remember, I will NEVER get sick of saying that.)

Where to start?  Well, LT had yet another 100-yd rushing game and a TD in the first quarter, followed by a Philip Rivers to Chris Chambers TD in the 2nd quarter.  Nate Kaeding was perfect with 3 FGs and 2 XPs in the first half, all while holding the struggling Broncos to a big goose egg.  Now I grew up in Denver and nothing pleases me more than watching the Broncos struggle and seeing Mike Shanahan’s constipated face looking more constipated.  Especially watching punter Paul Ernster shank punt after punt after punt (aren’t you glad you fired Todd Sauerbraun now Pat Bowlen?)

Luis Castillo returned to the lineup after foot surgery and started the game with a sack and co-forced fumble with Igor Olshansky, which was recovered by Shawne Merriman.  Welcome back Luis!!  The rest of the D was great as always, sacking Cutler 4 times as well as 2 INTs by Clinton Hart and Quentin Jammer. 

The second half was less exciting, as Jason Elam managed to kick a FG, breaking John Elway’s consecutive-games-as-a-Broncos-starter record.  Billy Volek replaced Rivers, while Michael Turner and Darren Sproles tag-teamed in LT’s absence. 

But the Bolts got the win, and maintain the #3 seed over Pittsburgh.  A win next week in Oakland cements that #3 seed, forcing either the Titans or the Browns to travel to San Diego for the wildcard game (gee, forced to come to San Diego….what punishment; I’m sure they’d rather go to Green Bay or Buffalo.)

Some other tasty tidbits:  LT now leads all RBs in TDs per game (minimum 100 games) with 1.17….ahead of Jim Brown and Walter Payton.  WOW!!  He has scored 6 rushing TDs in the past 4 games, and rushed for over 100 yds for the 4th consecutive time and 6th this season.  The Chargers have beaten Denver in 4 straight games for the first time since 1968.

I did kinda like the juvenile banter between Cutler and Rivers, Matt Wilhelm and Shaun Philips (since my daughters have been out of town this week I have really been missing the arguments and shouts of “Mom….she’s being mean to me!!”)

Anyway, have a Merry Christmas everyone!!!  I’ll be back soon…..

Until then….some fun images from the game, courtesy of Donald Miralle, Getty Images….




Rushing Title Update….

Willie Parker fractured his fibula in the first quarter of the Rams/Steelers game and is out for the remainder of the season.  With LT only 6 yds behind him (at 1,311), barring any magnificent performance by Adrian Peterson* (currently at 1,278) over the next two weeks or any idiotic decisions by Norv Turner, LT might just snag his 2nd consecutive rushing title (he won it with 1,815 yds last season.)

*Minnesota’s AP, not Chicago’s (and if anyone thought otherwise, I’m mighty disappointed.)

I am sorry for Parker and hope he heals quickly.  (He, Lorenzo Neal, Jeremy Shockey and Derrick Ward ought to start a PT group, huh?)

By the way, was that a tear I saw in Marshall Faulk’s eye?  Congrats!!  (oh, and Go Aztecs!!!) 

I guess Go Rams too, tonight, so the Chargers will be in better shape to maintain that #3 seed.


(2nd rushing title on the way??)

Week 16 Pre Game – Denver (6-8) @ San Diego (9-5) – MNF Christmas Eve Spectacular

Monday Night Football in San Diego on Christmas Eve, the week after the Chargers clinched their 2nd AFC West title, will be electric, to say the least!

Last time these two teams met, Week 5 in Denver, the Chargers killed the Broncos 41-3 on the heels of LaDainian Tomlinson.    That victory spurred the Chargers to subsequently win 8 of their last 10 games and earning their 2nd consecutive AFC West title (and 3rd in 4 years – you know, I never get tired of saying that!)

Last week the Chargers were smoking, with 100+ yds and 2-TDs performances by BOTH LT and Darren Sproles.  Denver was spanked by Houston’s backup QB Sage Rosenfels and backup (and former Bronco) RB Ron Dayne.  Despite decent play by both Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, Denver is merely a ghost of its past greatness (despite all the unnecessary and monotonous comparisons between Cutler and John Elway.)

The big matchup this week will be Marshall against Antonio Cromartie, the league’s INT leader.  As a team, San Diego leads the league in INTs.  Not to mention Shawne Merriman leads the league in sacks and will hopefully be back Monday.  (Stay tuned for the injury report later this week!)

LT, Michael Turner, and Sproles will all have no problem running all over the Broncos’ holy rushing defense; and expect LT to sit if the Chargers get another early lead (even though he is only six yds behind Willie Parker for the rushing title.)  With Lorenzo Neal’s broken leg, Andrew Pinnock should easily carry the momentum from last week through the end of the season as a more-than-worthy backup FB to Neal.

Furthermore, despite Champ Bailey’s selection to the Pro Bowl again (although let me iterate that Cromartie should have gotten the start with Bailey relegated to reserve status), with San Diego’s offensive weapons, he just can’t cover them all.  While, typically, more attention is focused upon Antonio Gates and Chris Chambers, the Chargers still have Vincent Jackson, Buster Davis, and Brandon Manumaleuna (who caught his first TD last week.)

Some other tasty morsels:  Philip Rivers is 3-0 against Denver and the Chargers have won their last four MNF games.

A final note:  Listen up Norv….stay with what works; don’t go messing up the game plan again….got it?!?! 

Jacksons TD v. Denver, Week 5

(Vincent Jackson’s TD vs. Denver, week 5)

Cutler getting sacked by Merriman

(Shawne Merriman’s intent to do great bodily injury to Jay Cutler, week 5)

Pro Bowl Selection – 8 Chargers Going to Hawaii!!

LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates and Lorenzo Neal (hurry up leg….heal!) are all Pro-Bowl AFC Starters.

Alternates include Kris Dielman, Jamal Williams, Kassim Osgood, Antonio Cromartie, and Shawne Merriman (although personally, I believe that INT leader Cromartie and sack leader Merriman deserved the starts.  Apparently my 37 pro bowl ballots weren’t enough.)

Way to go guys!!  You can pack later.  Go win the Super Bowl first, OK?

Cromartie’s 10th INT

Cromartie’s 10th INT.

With Great Apology to Andrew Pinnock

Apparently, in my gleeful Chargers/Lions postgame ramblings, I severely neglected to point out the contributions of backup FB Andrew Pinnock, who stepped up after Lorenzo Neal broke his leg in Tennessee.  Thankfully, Berney, one of my readers pointed out my oversight, so…thank you Berney.

Of course, neither LT nor Darren Sproles would have each had 100+ yd days without the key blocks of Pinnock, a 5th year veteran who earned his first start Sunday against Detroit after Neal’s injury. 

The opening line of Pinnock’s biography on chargers.com states:  “Andrew Pinnock is hungry to contribute in 2007.”  Judging by his performance in the last 1.5 games, I would have to agree. 

He came to San Diego in the 7th round of the 2003 draft from South Carolina.  In 2006, the Chargers extended his contract through 2011, and he spends the majority of his free time volunteering with youth organizations and, ultimately, wishes to open and run one of his own one day.  Talk about a role model; although several Chargers are showing their philanthropic sides through foundations and community involvement as well.  It’s definitely nice in this age of self-promoting whiny professional athletes to see a team committed to each other and the community, and not just themselves (boy, am I tempted to name some names here, but I’ll be good!)

OT TD in Tenn

After LT’s OT TD thanks to Pinnock’s block!!

(Source: chargers.com)

The Official Unofficial Darren Sproles Praise Blog

Darren Sproles and I are the same height.  When I met him after the Cardinals/Chargers preseason game this August, as he leaned against my shoulder chatting as if we were old friends, it was nice not to feel intimidated like I did looking up at, oh, Shawne Merriman or Jamal Williams (but they are equally unlike their on-field personas, thankfully.)

Interestingly, Sproles’ family nickname is ‘Tank’ because he was a 10-lb baby (ouch!)  Also, at the tender age of 9, the first time he picked up a football during a Pop Warner game, he scored an 80-yd TD.  Read more about him here.

Anyway, “the little guy” as he is called made history yesterday….again.  The first time, week 10 vs. the Colts, Sproles returned both a kickoff and punt for TDs.  Yesterday, both he and LaDainian Tomlinson EACH ran for 100+ yds (Sproles acutally outran LT 122-116 in yardage) and they EACH scored 2 TDs:  the first time in Chargers history for 2-100+ yd rushers in the same game.  In addition to loving every minute of watching his record-making day, I was equally enamored with LT’s expressions and cheerleading on the sidelines.

Said LT, “He was a little gassed. I kept on making fun of him. He was pretty tired. He kept on looking over at the sideline. I’m like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not coming back in.'” 

When asked about the hits he took, Sproles said they weren’t that bad.  This from a guy who missed the entire 2006 season with a broken leg sustained during the first game of the season on a kickoff return.  Maybe that’s what spurred him on; I mean, like I said, we’re the same height, and if I had a 6’6″, 300 lb DB chasing me I’d sure be turning on the afterburners.  Despite whether his awesome day was a result of pure talent or survival instincts, BIG props to him!!

The shoulder injury to Michael Turner (whom I hope recovers quickly) ultimately provided the impetus for Norv Turner’s use of Sproles, and letting (as so eloquently put by LT in his Vizio commercials) “his performance speak for itself.”  Just like what he did so well at Kansas State, holding ” virtually every school record” including scoring 45 TDs and rushing for 100+ yds 24 times (with 5 200-yd games) during his college career.

 Darren Sproles

(One of 2 TD runs for ‘the little guy’!)

chargers-autographs-009.jpg      chargers-autographs-005.jpg 

He was so cool, I got 2 autographs….. (I especially love how he signed up top by Norv’s head!)

(Sources: chargers.com, signonsandiego.com)

Week 15 Post Game – LT, Jr??!!

Chargers 51, Lions 14

San Diego Chargers 2007 AFC West Champions!!

(First time since 1981 for back-to-back division championships!)

What a game!!  Two 100+ yd rushers in LaDainian Tomlinson and (LT, Jr.) Darren Sproles, and 2 TDs each; not to mention the team scoring the most points since 1985.

Despite missing Shawne Merriman, the defense forced a fumble and had 5 INTs; now leading the league with 27 INTs (10 in the last 3 games alone!), and Antonio Cromartie leads the league individually with 10 thus far.  The rest of today’s INT club included Stephen Cooper, Shaun Phillips (who ran his back for a score), Matt Wilhelm, and Clinton Hart.

LT is leading the league in TDs by a running back (14), and also passed Eddie George and Tiki Barber to break into the top 20 all-time list for yardage by a RB; not to mention passing Jim Brown on the all-time TD list as well.  Oh, and he only played half a game.  Oh yeah, he also became only the 2nd player in history to reach 1,200 yds in his first 7 seasons (with Eric Dickerson.)

Philip Rivers looked like the Rivers of last season:  confident, great passes, and good decision-making.  And props to Norv Turner, finally, for letting the Chargers do what the Chargers do best (it also helped that LT was standing by him the whole game, presumably saying, “Keep giving it to Sproles.”)

Nate Kaeding was a perfect 3/3 for FGs and 5/5 on XPs for an impressive 15 points, and Brandon Manumaleuna scored his first TD of the season as well.  Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson and Buster Davis each had clutch catches (no scores, but that’s OK), and Andrew Pinnock was a more than worthy replacement for the injured Lorenzo Neal.

With the loss by Pittsburgh, San Diego is looking even better for that #3 seed, and is already guaranteed a home playoff game, presumably against either Cleveland or Jacksonville.  I was thinking of scalping my tickets for the game, but am thinking that I really NEED to go (since I haven’t been to a playoff game since 1995 vs. Miami when I was miserably 3-months pregnant with my first daughter and threw up through the whole game.  Yeah, I know you really didn’t need to know that!)

Next week the Chargers host the rapidly declining Donkeys, err Broncos on Christmas Eve, then wrap up the season in Oakland. 

Shaun Philips INT for TD

Shaun Phillips INT for TD!

In Praise of Vincent, Part 2

Well, loyal readers know I adore Vincent Jackson (hey newbies, check out my earlier Player Spotlight!)…..

Anyway, Jackson has had a great 2nd half this season.  His ability to catch and RUN, gaining tremendous yards after the catch (YAC) have earned him the creative nickname Vincent YACson. 

Against Baltimore 3 weeks ago, Jackson caught a 12-yd, 2nd-and-9 catch, then turned it on for 31 additional yards.  And last week in Tennessee (at “LT Field”, lol), Jackson made 3 key YAC plays to help the Chargers in an amazing overtime win against the Titans (I’m STILL excited about that one!)

Experts (and admiring females) tout his 6’5″/241 lb frame as a huge advantage over smaller defensive backs, not to mention his incredible quickness.  Now that he’s actually catching the ball (sorry Vincent, but you did drop a few earlier in the season), his size and speed are making those necessary key plays.

TD Vincent YACson

Run, Vincent….RUN!!

Week 15 Injury Report: 50-50 x 3

Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and Jamal Williams are all questionable for Sunday’s game against the Lions; and, according to Norv Turner, the decision of whether they will play may even wait until game time.

Just in case, Billy Volek has been participating in practice, taking half the snaps.  While Rivers, obviously, would like to play the entire game, he said, “I don’t want to play selfishly just trying to play.  We’ll do what’s best for the team.” 

If Williams sits, Brandon McKinney will step up like he did last week in Tennessee, where he recorded 6 tackles in one quarter.

While Lorenzo Neal’s streak of 221 consecutive games will, sadly, come to an end, replacement Andrew Pinnock is ready for his first start in 5 seasons.  The last time Neal missed a game, in 1993, Pinnock was in 7th grade.

Luis Castillo is making strides on the practice field after ankle surgery, but will not be ready for the Lions.  “We keep getting closer,” says Castillo.

Shawne Merriman is definitely out for Sunday, resting his sprained knee sustained in Tennessee last week on what many (including myself) believe was a dirty, vindictive play.  Special teams stud Marques Harris will likely see a great deal of action in Merriman’s absence.

Mike Goff and Buster Davis are both probable.

Jamal Williams

(Big Jamal Williams in pre-injury form.)

(Source: chargers.com)