The Chargers could be down four Pro Bowlers on Sunday, including OLB Shawne Merriman. Merriman's…
TV: FOX, Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan, Chris Myers
SERIES: Ninth meeting. Chargers lead series, 5-3. The Lions won the first three meetings, all in the 1970s, then lost five straight. The last meeting was in 2003.
PREDICTION: Chargers 30-20
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson has averaged 161.5 rushing yards on 6.6 yards per carry the past two weeks, but he lost his road grader when FB Lorenzo Neal was lost for the season. Andrew Pinnock takes his place, and the impact of the drop-off remains to be seen. The Chargers are also still looking for more consistency out of QB Philip Rivers, although a knee injury could limit his mobility even if he's able to play.
Too often on the road this season, the Lions have fallen into quick holes, abandoned the run and watched games get out of hand. It's critical they get off to a strong start -- and that means keeping RB Kevin Jones involved. The Chargers might be without OLB Shawne Merriman, but they have plenty of other good pass rushers so QB Jon Kitna will likely resort to shorter drops and quicker throws again.
Lions: WR Roy Williams (knee) is out; DT Shaun Rogers (weight, knee) and CB Fernando Bryant (ankle) could have their snaps limited.
Chargers: Merriman (knee), Neal (leg) and DE Luis Castillo (ankle) are out; Rivers is moving better and has a decent chance to play; DT Jamal Williams (ankle) is questionable.
FAST FACTS: The Lions have been outscored 170-71 in losing four of their past five road games. ... Tomlinson needs five rushing yards to join Eric Dickerson as the only players to begin their careers with seven consecutive 1,200-yard seasons.
CHARGERS PERSONNEL NEWS:
--WR Craig Davis seemed primed to increase his playing time after a solid game last week. But the rookie was limited in practice with a sore Achilles.
--DT Brandon McKinney will likely see increased playing time with Jamal Williams ailing. McKinney played well down the stretch last week when the defensive had some key stops to allow the Chargers' winning rally.
--DT Ryon Bingham is playing well with his increased snaps of late.
--DE Jacques Cesaire worked Thursday and that is an encouraging sign. He's just over a week removed from having thumb surgery.
--RG Mike Goff (foot) was able to get through part of the practice. He's pretty tough and will likely try to play Sunday. He's banged-up, though.
--RT Jeromey Clary will stay in the starting lineup this week. If RG Mike Goff is compromised, the former starter at right tackle, Shane Olivea, would take some of Goff's snaps.
LIONS PERSONNEL NEWS:
--DT Shaun Rogers, who didn't practice Wednesday because of bad knees, ran well Thursday, according to coach Rod Marinelli.
--S Kenoy Kennedy, who didn't practice Wednesday because of a knee injury, did limited work Thursday.
--WR Troy Walters didn't practice Wednesday and Thursday because of a concussion, and coach Rod Marinelli said Walters probably would not play Sunday at San Diego.
--RB Aveion Cason is expected to return kickoffs if Walters does not play. Cason already returns punts.
--WR Brandon Middleton also could return kickoffs. He returned one late in Sunday's game against Dallas because the coaches thought he might be able to make a big play with his speed.
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