Game Day Primer: Chargers vs. Titans

LB Donald Butler (U.S. Presswire)

Sunday is a big day for the Chargers. The team is celebrating its home opener with a uniform "White Out" and a pre-game ceremony honoring the late Junior Seau. Of course, all of that will be tainted if the Bolts fail to add another tally in the win column. To set the table for this pivotal game, we serve up a full preview of each phase of the game.

When The Chargers Run

Ryan Mathews practiced in full pads on Thursday for the first time since Aug. 9 when he fractured his clavicle. Norv Turner is eager to put Mathews back in, especially after Week 1's anemic performance on the ground. The Chargers only ran for 32 yards on 20 tries, averaging 1.6 yards per carry.

The Chargers also struggled inside the red zone, striking pay-dirt on just one of five trips. In order to separate themselves from the Titans, the running game needs to find a way to push through when the field shrinks. Look for Le'Ron McClain to get more involved in this part of the game plan.

LDT Sen'Derrick Marks is listed as questionable for the game; his absence would take some pressure off of rookie LT Mike Harris, who will start again in place of injured Jared Gaither.

When The Chargers Pass

Philip Rivers committed zero turnovers last week and will need to have a repeat performance. Rivers looked like his old self in Oakland, throwing for 231 yards and a touchdown while completing 24 of 33 attempts, gaining him a QB rating of 102.0. Rivers needs to continue hitting Malcom Floyd and Robert Meachem downfield to loosen up the Titans defense.

Antonio Gates has 597 career receptions, needing only three more to become the fifth tight end in NFL history with 600 career receptions. He would have passed the milestone last week if not for some uncharacteristic drops. Gates was held out of two practices this week with sore ribs but is expected to play.

The offensive line needs another strong showing after yielding just one sack last week, none after The Opening drive. The Titans improved their pass rush this offseason by adding Kamerion Wimbley, who will spend most of his time trying to exploit Harris. The O-line's ability to protect Rivers in the pocket will set the tone for the passing game.

When The Titans Run

Most experts pegged Chris Johnson for a bounce-back season after a mediocre 2011 campaign. It did not happen last week, as he was only able to garner 4 yards on 11 attempts against the New England Patriots. The Titans were only able to run for 20 yards as a team and now face defensive coordinator John Pagano's young front three, which has already held one star running back to just 45 yards.

San Diego needs big games from Vaughn Martin and Corey Liuget, who will need to contain the scrambling, tuck and run QB Jake Locker. NT Antonio Garay (ankle) is expected to play after a week of full participation in practice.

When The Titans Pass

Locker was limited in practice this week with a sore shoulder. His numbers last week were nearly identical to Rivers', completing 23 of 32 attempts for 229 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

The Chargers defense, which posted three sacks in the opener, will look to keep the heat on in Week 2. While much was made this offseason about the additions of Melvin Ingram and Jarret Johnson and the healthy return of Larry English, it was mainstay Shaun Phillips who stole the show in Oakland with a pair of sacks.

Quentin Jammer will start despite having surgery on a broken thumb this week. That's key, since Shareece Wright's ankle injury leaves San Diego with just three available cornerbacks. Star WR Kenny Britt did not play against New England and was limited most of practice this week with a bad knee; Coach Mike Munchak told the Tennessean that Britt will see 15-25 snaps against the Chargers.

Just For Kicks

Nate Kaeding scored 16 of San Diego's 22 points in Week 1. It was only the third time in his career where he kicked five field goals in one game. To win this game, the Chargers need to limit Kaeding's kicking opportunities by converting in the red zone.

Dante Rosario and the rest of San Diego's special teams need to continue to play like bullies and pressure the Tennessee punt team. Field position was a key factor in last week's victory and can be again here in Week 2.



What will happen in the AFC West in Week 2? Discuss inside the message boards.




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