Hart: Bolts Must Focus on 'Love of the Game'

SS Clinton Hart (Donald Miralle/Getty)

The Chargers get an extra day this week to think about their first two games -- that's not a pleasant thought.

With a Monday night date with the New York Jets looming, the Chargers can sit and stew about the opening two weeks. They sit at 0-2 after squandering two late leads and now must face a recharged Jets offense with Brett Favre at quarterback.

Before the month started, the Chargers were confident about getting off to a good start. The opening slate of games wasn't fierce, and a quick jump on the AFC West lead looked reasonable.

Then Pro Bowl running back LaDainian Tomlinson hurt his toe in the opener and was compromised in Week 2; he'll be evaluated later this week for Sunday's game.


QB Philip Rivers
Doug Pensinger/Getty

Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman (knee) was lost for the year after the first game.

Instead of a solid start, the two-time defending champions are two games off the pace after the heartbreaking loss in Denver.

"We lose one guy (Merriman) and everyone says our Super Bowl hopes are dim," safety Clinton Hart said. "But we've got a lot of guys who have put in a lot of time to win this thing."

But history doesn't bode well for the struggling Chargers, who have lost three straight when including last season's AFC Championship Game.

Since being christened the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960, they've started 0-2 on 10 occasions. When beginning winless, they've made the playoffs but once ---- in 1992.

The other nine squads flamed out, with just the 2005 version finishing above .500 at 9-7.

Still, in the past two seasons, a pair of teams started 0-2 and were in the playoffs.

The 2006 Chiefs didn't survive their wild-card playoff game, but the 2007 Giants ran the table to win the Super Bowl.

The Chargers and Super Bowl used to share many sentences. But embarking on what was supposed to be a super season has gotten off to a shaky start.

The pass defense will have to get right quick against Brett Favre on Monday. That part of the team's shaky defense was torched by Jay Cutler for four touchdowns and 350 yards passing; it was exposed by the Panthers' Jake Delhomme in the opener as well.

"You don't want to dig a hole for yourself," Hart said of the slow start.

Hart is anxious to face Favre for the third time in his career and securing the Chargers' first victory.

"I'm looking forward to it and hoping I can get a pick this time," Hart said. "I got Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the bag and I need to get Favre."

Hart said the Chargers could learn from the ever-young Favre.

"We got to focus on the love of the game, having fun and that is what he brings to it," Hart said. "He is 40-something years old (38) and still having fun."

But so far, the giggles have been few for the befuddled Chargers. With the meat of their schedule on the horizon, getting off to a quick start was critical. The last two missteps make Monday's game that much more important.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson is hopeful a big toe injury won't become chronic this year. He was limited to 10 carries on Sunday after injuring the toe in the season opener. He'll likely have his practice time restricted this week.

--RB Darren Sproles filled in for LaDainian Tomlinson and was stellar. He had a 66-yard scoring reception out of the backfield; earlier he had a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He rushed for 53 yards on seven carries.

--LT Marcus McNeill (neck) could get clearance to return to practice this week. He's missed the first two games and the preseason.

--C Nick Hardwick (foot) is being eased into practice and could play in the next two weeks. --ILB Stephen Cooper is halfway through his four-game suspension. Cooper led the team in tackles last year.

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