Bolts Notebook: Chargers Attack the Bye Week

RB LaDainian Tomlinson (Denis Poroy/AP)

The Chargers enjoy a bye this week, thanks to earning the AFC's No. 2 playoff seed. But the Chargers won't be kicking completely back. They know their real season is about to start, and they will treat this week accordingly.

Coach Norv Turner said the players would attack practices in a manner that doesn't allow for rust.

"I think it's something this team has done a good job. ... We practice fast," he said. "This week we can reduce the reps just a little bit, but when we go, you just have to go fast and you have to maintain that type of mentality. I think that's the strength of this team.

Turner said it has been that way whether the Chargers were 2-3 or 13-3.

"Even when we were struggling, I know I commented on it, and it doesn't help when you say it but you're not playing as well as you'd like, but we have practiced well, and I believe we will continue to," he said.

The Chargers don't know their opponent, but they learned Monday they will play on Sunday, Jan. 17, at Qualcomm Stadium. Their opponent will be the Patriots, Bengals or Jets.

With so many potential opponents possessing so many varied approaches, it makes it a challenge to prepare for a particular skill set.

But Turner is embracing the postseason bye week and isn't complaining.

"It's the position you're put in, and we will prepare for the situations that are going to come up in this game," he said. "We just talked about it -- whether it be red zone, whether it be backed up, whether it be goal line, whether it be two-minute -- we will get those situations handled and we will work hard on them.

"We will look at different things that teams do and do a little bit of each, but in those situations, things tend to be a little more standard. There are a lot of similarities between all the teams you play. Obviously we have to wait until this weekend is over to find out exactly who we're playing. Then we'll get into the specifics of that team."

What is clear is the Chargers are hot, winners of 11 straight games as they advance to the playoffs for the fourth straight time.

"We're playing at a real high level," Turner said. "I think there are a number of teams that are playing extremely well.

"We had an outstanding game with Dallas in early December, and they've really taken off. You look at the teams in the AFC, and they're going that way (up).

"To me it's not what you've done or how well you've played. You get a 3 1/2-hour game and you need to play better than the team you're playing against."

NOTES, QUOTES


RB Michael Bennett
Jeff Roberson/AP
--It's believed defensive coordinator Ron Rivera will be interviewed for the Bills' head-coaching vacancy.

--Quarterback Philip Rivers speculated that his offense was in for a big day Sunday -- if the starters hadn't been pulled after two series. "We moved the ball pretty well," said Rivers, who directed the team to 10 points in two possessions. "I felt like we were rolling pretty well."

--The Chargers' win on Sunday came thanks to another late drive by backup quarterback Billy Volek. He did the same thing two years ago when filling in for an injured Rivers against the Colts.

"Nobody panicked," Volek said of the drive that resulted in a 2-yard scoring pass to Mike Tolbert with 35 seconds remaining. "We've been doing it. I think we've got great coaches on the staff who prepare every position to get ready. Hopefully, I won't play in the playoffs."

--Wide receiver Buster Davis was active for the first time all season, and the former first-round pick didn't blow his big chance.

"I wanted to get out there in front of 60,000 fans and show what I can do," said Davis, who had six catches for 52 yards. "It's very frustrating to be on the sideline every week. Never have I had to sit for this length of time."

PLAYER NOTES

--LB James Holt, who has been playing well especially on special teams, will undergo shoulder surgery. He is out for the season.

--DE Jacques Cesaire (elbow) will start practicing this week.

--RB Jacob Hester (shoulder) didn't play Sunday but will ease into a practice routine.

--WR Vincent Jackson (Achilles) didn't play Sunday, and the Chargers will monitor his practice time.

--OLB Shawne Merriman (foot) will practice sparingly but will start in the playoff game.

--WR Legedu Naanee (foot) will practice this week.

--FS Eric Weddle (knee) will practice this week and play the following week.

REPORT CARD VS. REDSKINS

PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Philip Rivers wasn't in the game long, but he was there long enough to lead the Chargers to 10 points in two drives. Billy Volek showed some rust -- not a shock -- but came on strong at the end to pull out the win. The pass blocking was spot-on. Kudos to WR Buster Davis, as he showed he might not be a bust. Malcom Floyd was effective with a team-high 140 yards on nine catches.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Not much here, as the Chargers couldn't crack the 50-yard barrier or the 3-yard-per-carry standard. The run blocking was merely OK; there were a lot of changes with the massive substitutions. Michael Bennett had 28 rushing yards on 11 carries but added 62 yards on four catches.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Chargers had some tackling issues with their backups, in particular CB Dante Hughes. Antoine Cason, a former nickel back, held up well and led the team with 12 tackles, one for a loss. The pass rush didn't gather huge numbers -- one sack -- but Jason Campbell seldom was able to set his feet or look comfortable in the pocket.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Redskins had only 64 yards rushing as the Chargers front line often won the battle up front, and the linebackers were active as well. LB Brandon Siler had a tackle for a loss as he continues to shine. LB Kevin Burnett is working his way back into shape after a neck injury; he had five tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Nate Kaeding was perfect on three field-goal attempts, including one from 45 yards. The coverage units were on the mark, but the Chargers didn't get much from the return game. P Mike Scifres remains solid.

COACHING: A -- Norv Turner needs to be in the discussion for coach of the year honors. He was able to walk that fine line Sunday of getting his regulars some work -- and then out of harm's way -- while recording a win behind his backups. Turner has the Chargers' attention, and they are focused heading into the playoffs.

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