Bolts Seek Antidote for Road Woes

The Chargers have two things to accomplish Sunday in Oakland: win their first road game and extend their winning streak over the Raiders to 14.

As tough as these teams play each other -- the Chargers have no bigger rival -- it's amazing that the last 13 times they played, the Chargers have won. That includes the last six visits to Oakland.

"It's always fun, any time you play the Raiders," inside linebacker Stephen Cooper said. "You know they are up there trying to get a win against us and we know it's been years since they have done that. And we know we are going to take their best punches.

"At the same time we have to stay on top of our game plan and execute the task at hand."

The Chargers hit the San Francisco Bay area with a dose of confidence after thumping the Cardinals by 31 points last week. They seemed to shore up their shortcomings on special teams and played their most complete game of the year.

And the Chargers would love to find that groove they had on the road last year. In going 7-1 away from Qualcomm Stadium, the team set a franchise record for road wins.

This year has seen them fall at Kansas City and Seattle. And the Oakland game marks the first of a two-game swing, with the surprising Rams up next.

But fullback Jacob Hester said it really doesn't matter where either team is in the standings when they play. All that needs to be said around Chargers Park is that it's Raiders Week and everyone nods accordingly.

"We could be the best team in the league and they could be the worst," Hester said. "They could be the best and we could be the worst and it doesn't matter. If you are going to play there it is going to be tough. It doesn't matter.

"That is a different game than any game we play. It's more physical, there's more talk going; it's a tough game. The score doesn't always tell how tough it is. Obviously we want to keep the streak going and obviously they want to stop it. So it will be another battle."

Cooper said not only is it a rival game, but it comes against an AFC West foe.

"Especially with it being an AFC West opponent we take pride in going up there and getting those wins," he said. "We hope we do it again this Sunday."

NOTES, QUOTES

TRENDING: Has ball security become an issue with the Chargers? After losing but seven fumbles all of last season, they already have lost six fumbles in four games. Among the reasons the running backs seldom fumbled was that the sure-handed LaDainian Tomlinson carried it with regularity. But with Tomlinson gone, rookie Ryan Mathews has lost two fumbles, Darren Sproles two and Mike Tolbert one. Plus, Philip Rivers has thrown four interceptions, just five shy of his 2009 total.

LINEUP WATCH: Outside linebacker Antwan Applewhite has a keen opportunity to get more playing time. Shawne Merriman's availability is always a week-to-week issue with his various injuries. Larry English, who plays on passing downs, remains out with a foot injury. Applewhite got the start against the Cardinals and he figures to have plenty of chances to make his mark.

PLAYER NOTES

--RG Louis Vasquez will miss at least one more game with a knee sprain. He'll be replaced again by Tyronne Green.

--OLB Shawne Merriman hopes to return Sunday after missing another game with a calf injury. Merriman has played in but one game this year.

--LT Marcus McNeill continues to practice well after signing his contract. He is still out one more contest before coming off the roster exempt list. Brandyn Dombrowski gets the start on Sunday.

--RB Ryan Mathews is back in the lineup after missing two games with an ankle injury.

--OLB Larry English remains about a month away from returning after foot surgery.

--RB Darren Sproles resumed his role as punt returner after Patrick Crayton handled the duties in Week 3.



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