Our Scout.com experts, Charlie Bernstein of JagNation.com and Michael Lombardo of SDBoltReport.com,…
Chargers Prepare to Pounce on Jaguars
While Philip Rivers says one thing, his body language says something else. Rivers just doesn't look as comfortable and poised as he did last year.
Coach Norv Turner needs to call some quick slants, some swing passes, some safe stuff on the intermediate routes to TE Antonio Gates.
The Jaguars rank No. 27 in stopping the pass, and the Chargers should make them prove they are better than that.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Chargers' run defense, which still has some question marks, vs. Jaguars' running combo of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor -- After getting demolished by Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, San Diego rebounded against the Colts. Still, Indianapolis was behind the entire game and was forced to get away from the run more than it wanted, and it finished with 75 rushing yards. But the run defense will have its hands full with Jones-Drew and Taylor, who lead the NFL's No. 3-rated running game. The run defense is still missing DE Luis Castillo (ankle), and CB Quentin Jammer will be nursing a tender hamstring if he does play. Jammer is pretty good in run support. The inside linebackers, Stephen Cooper and Matt Wilhelm, need to have big games.
Chargers pass rush vs. Jaguars QB David Garrard -- The Chargers need to test Garrard early to see how his ankle holds up. If Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips can generate the heat, it will be telling to see how Garrard reacts. He was having a solid year before getting hurt on Oct. 22, completing 66 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Can he pick things up at that level? Hard to say, but the Chargers should test him with some early pressure from different sides and players.
Chargers running game, with Pro Bowl FB Lorenzo Neal as lead blocker, vs. Jaguars run defense, with MLB Mike Peterson -- The Chargers will find their swagger as soon as they find their running game. Neal could have a big day leading the way for RB LaDainian Tomlinson, and maybe producing more success between the tackles than usual. The Jaguars are missing Pro Bowl DT Marcus Stroud, which puts added pressure on Peterson to fill the gaps. The Chargers haven't run well inside the last two weeks; some of that could be traced to Pro Bowl C Nick Hardwick being out. But with Stroud out, maybe Neal and the interior of the Chargers' line -- LG Kris Dielman, C Cory Withrow, RG Mike Goff -- can exploit a considerable hole in the Jaguars' line. Peterson, with a team-high 108 tackles, will try to pick up the slack.
--DE Jacques Cesaire (toe) didn't work on Wednesday but should be ready to play Sunday.
--C Nick Hardwick (foot) is out at least one more game; he didn't practice Wednesday. Cory Withrow will replace him.
--OLB Shawne Merriman (ankle) didn't work Wednesday but will go Sunday.
--CB Quentin Jammer (hamstring) was limited in his work Wednesday but should go Sunday unless he suffers a setback.
--OLB Shaun Phillips (groin) didn't work Wednesday. He should go Sunday.
--OLB Marques Harris (toe) didn't practice Wednesday but should go Sunday.
--S Eric Weddle (knee) didn't practice Wednesday but will try later in the week.
--DE Luis Castillo (ankle) will miss another five weeks.
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