Chargers-Colts Game Snapshot
TV: NBC, Al Michaels, John Madden, Andrea Kremer
SERIES: 23rd meeting. Chargers lead the series, 13-9. The Chargers went into Indianapolis two years ago and ruined the Colts' bid for an undefeated season after they had started 13-0. The Colts upended the Chargers in a wild-card playoff game after the 1995 season with future Chargers quarterback Jim Harbaugh at the helm. It was San Diego's last playoff appearance under coach Bobby Ross, who was fired after the 1996 season.
PREDICTION: Chargers 27-24
KEYS TO THE GAME: Chargers coach Norv Turner is enamored with the potential of his passing game with WR Chris Chambers in the fold to deflect attention from TE Antonio Gates. But with QB Philip Rivers struggling mightily with his consistency, the Chargers need to get back to focusing the game plan around RB LaDainian Tomlinson.
The Colts move the ball at will, but they have dropped to 14th in the league with a 54.1 percent touchdown rate inside the red zone (20 TDs, 16 FGs in 37 possessions). With the receiving corps beat up and the Chargers giving up 378 rushing yards last week with DT Jamal Williams less than 100 percent, look for Indy to focus more on the running game.
FAST FACTS: The Colts have won their first four road games by an average of 13.5 points. ... The Chargers are averaging 29.5 points in their four wins and 17.8 in their four losses.
COLTS PERSONNEL NEWS:
--WR Marvin Harrison (knee) saw limited practice for a second straight day on Thursday. A final decision on his availability for the Chargers' game won't be made until Saturday or Sunday.
--LB Rocky Boiman (shoulder) returned to practice Thursday and should be in the starting lineup against the Chargers.
--LB Gary Brackett (hip) practiced Thursday and is expected to start at San Diego.
--DT Raheem Brock (neck) did not practice Thursday. A decision on his status for the Chargers' game most likely won't be made until Saturday or Sunday.
--TE Dallas Clark (concussion) missed a second day of practice on Thursday. He hopes to be cleared in time to play at San Diego on Sunday.
--OT Dan Federkeil (concussion) did not practice Thursday. Federkeil won't know his playing status until Saturday or Sunday.
--DE Dwight Freeney (team decision) is expected to start Sunday against the Chargers. He has not practiced the last two days.
--S Matt Giordano (hamstring) has not practiced this week and may not be ready for the Chargers game on Sunday.
--WR Anthony Gonzalez (thumb) is expected to be sidelined for the San Diego game this week. He has not practiced since injuring his hand against New England last Sunday.
--LB Tyjuan Hagler (neck) had a second day of limited practice on Thursday. A final decision on his availability will be made Saturday or Sunday.
--CB Marlin Jackson (foot) missed a second day of practice on Thursday. His status will probably be updated Saturday or Sunday.
--LB Freddy Keiaho (ear) saw limited work on Thursday. Keiaho, who has missed the last two games, may find out his availability for the San Diego game Saturday or Sunday.
--OG Ryan Lilja (team decision) returned to practice on Thursday. He is expected to start Sunday at San Diego.
--OT Tony Ugoh (neck) was held out of practice Thursday. His status will most likely be updated Saturday or Sunday.
--CB Kelvin Hayden (team decision) did not practice Thursday. Hayden may be able to return to practice on Friday.
--S Bob Sanders (team decision) sat out Thursday's practice. That is normal as he usually is allowed to miss one day of practice each week in order to rest old injuries. Sanders is expected to start Sunday at San Diego.
CHARGERS PERSONNEL NEWS:
--OLB Shawne Merriman (knee) practiced and will play Sunday.
--CB Quentin Jammer (hamstring) didn't work. Antonio Cromartie would start if Jammer is idle, which is looking like it will happen.
--OLB Shaun Phillips (groin) worked and will go on Sunday.
--OLB Marques Harris (toe) didn't practice. He sees action strictly on passing downs. He's probably down Sunday.
--DE Luis Castillo (ankle) is out six weeks. He will be replaced by Jacques Cesaire and Ryon Bingham.
--C Nick Hardwick (foot) is out at least one more game; he didn't practice. Cory Withrow will replace him.
--WR Craig Davis (ankle) worked and will be available on Sunday.
--CB Antonio Cromartie isn't expected to return punts or kickoffs in the game, although it has been discussed.
INSIDE COLTS CAMP:
Tony Dungy would prefer to not talk about injuries. While he understands the needs of media and the interest from fans on the topic, the Indianapolis Colts coach admittedly would prefer to discuss those players who are practicing every day and who will be suiting up for the team's road game at San Diego on Sunday night.
The team's midweek practice participation chart showed as many as 14 people sitting out of the Wednesday workout. Eleven of the 14 were in the starting lineup at the beginning of the season two months ago, including such offensive and defensive stalwarts like wide receiver Marvin Harrison, defensive end Dwight Freeney, linebacker Gary Brackett, linebacker Rocky Boiman, tight end Dallas Clark, offensive guard Ryan Lilja, defensive tackle Raheem Brock, linebacker Tyjuan Hagler, cornerback Marlin Jackson, linebacker Freddy Keiaho and offensive tackle Tony Ugoh.
Boiman, Brackett and Lilja all returned to the practice field Thursday. But cornerback Kelvin Hayden and safety Bob Sanders were added to the list, although Sanders usually takes one day off from practice each week in order to rest old injuries. And while Freeney sat out a second straight day, he also is expected to be ready for the Chargers' game.
"I'm looking at who practiced and that's who we're training and getting ready to go. I know it seems like I am sounding evasive. But it's not something that I spend a whole lot of time worrying about," Dungy said this week.
"The first thing we heard on Marlin Jackson was that (his foot injury) might be like (former Colts receiver Brandon) Stokley's and he might be out a year and a half. And then six hours later, it was three to four weeks. And now (Thursday) they said 'don't rule him out for this week.' I guess I'm not the person to ask (about injuries) because I just wait and see who's going to play."
The Colts remain hopeful that the majority of those players who missed practice time this week will be able to play at San Diego on Sunday night.
INSIDE CHARGERS CAMP:
Outside linebacker Shaun Phillips worked for the second straight day and that's a big plus for the Chargers.
Phillips is a key pass rusher. If the Chargers hope to upset the visiting Colts Sunday, they'll need to get after Peyton Manning and Phillips could be a big part of that.
Phillips missed the last game with a groin injury, but he's held up in practice this week. Phillips' game is all about speed, so he needs his legs to be effective.
If Phillips can go, that could take some of the extra protection away from Pro Bowl outside linebacker Shawne Merriman. With Phillips down Sunday in Minnesota, the Vikings were able to commit extra blockers to Merriman and he didn't get a sack.
Phillips doesn't get the media attention that Merriman gets. But Phillips is critical to Merriman's success; they both have 5.5 sacks this season.
Last year they were Nos. 1 and 2 among all NFL linebackers in sacks. Merriman led the league with 17, while Phillips added 11.5.
The Colts could decide to load up against Merriman anyway. The last time these teams played in 2005 Merriman had two sacks and two tackles for losses inside the San Diego 12, one in which he read Manning's bootleg to perfection for a 6-yard loss.
Merriman has been going easy this week with a sore knee. But he worked Thursday and will go Sunday.
And it looks like Phillips will be there with him.
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