COUGAR GREAT Jerome "The Ghost" Harrison is no longer invisible to Cleveland Browns fans. The former…
How long on Hardwick?
The Chargers were upbeat after disposing of the Raiders Sunday, 28-14. It washed away some of the taste from that 1-3 start and gave the team a 3-3 showing heading into the bye week.
But the medical news isn't as cheery.
Center Nick Hardwick could be absent at least three-to-four weeks with a foot sprain he sustained Sunday. And coach Norv Turner said that was just an estimate, with the Pro Bowler possibly being out longer.
Defensive tackle Jamal Williams won't be out nearly that long, but he did undergo arthroscopic knee surgery on Monday. The Chargers have been nursing the Pro Bowler through the past two weeks of practices and games and decided to aggressively go after the injury, which is still causing pain.
But Turner stressed it wasn't a serious operation and the hope is Williams will play when the team hits the field again Oct. 28 against the Texans.
Right guard Mike Goff also had surgery to repair a broken thumb. But Goff is expected to be OK for the Texans.
So getting all the ailing Chargers right might somewhat balance the momentum the streaking Chargers lose by not playing this week.
"We got our edge back and we don't want to lose that," Turner said. "But this has been a very, very physical stretch. We've played good football teams, physical football teams and it takes a toll. We need to get our guys rested and feeling physically good."
--During the bye week, the team works Tuesday-Thursday and is off from Friday-Sunday.
--Just when the Chargers string together consecutive wins, the bye arrives. "We're starting to get that feeling again and here comes the bye week," RB LaDainian Tomlinson said. "But we have some guys that obviously need to get healthy, so the bye week at this point is really not that bad."
--OLB Shawne Merriman has caught on to this Chargers-Raiders game pretty well. "We want to own every team we play," said Merriman, who had a game-high 2.5 sacks in Sunday's game. "But it's always good to get a win against the Raiders."
--QB Philip Rivers gave praise to backup C Cory Withrow. He replaced Pro Bowler Nick Hardwick after the game's seventh play and the Chargers kept rolling. "He did a great job," Rivers said. "That shows the value of having a veteran backup. He's been around for a long time, and he and Nick Hardwick work well together all week, making the calls and seeing things."
--Norv Turner was effusive in his praise for OLBs Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips. "I thought they were outstanding," he said. "Both played well against the run, rushing, dropping in coverage; doing the things outside linebackers do."
--Could the Chargers have defeated the Raiders a few weeks back when they were still coming together? "That's a tough question," DE Luis Castillo said. "Obviously the biggest difference is that we're meshing."
--It was big for the Chargers offense to put the exclamation point on Sunday's win with a late fourth-quarter touchdown. "Closing out games is what we were missing earlier and it was what we had last year," Rivers said. "We were able to finish off a game with five minutes left."
--Turner on the incomparable Tomlinson. "The things he is able to do in the running game and the passing game -- he was L.T.," he said. "We've all seen it, but he was great."
--The Chargers have defeated the Raiders eight straight times.
--Turner admitted sticking it to Oakland -- where he was the head coach for two years, going 9-23 -- was sweet. "I'm not going to lie about it," he said. "But that's personal. It's not the issue."
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--RB LaDainian Tomlinson moved into a tie with Jim Brown (106 TDs, 1957-65) for fourth place on the league's all-time rushing TDs list after his four scores on Sunday.
--DE Jacques Cesaire aggravated an ankle injury but could practice later this week.
--CB Drayton Florence recorded his first interception of the season, which was his ninth of his career. Florence is expected to become a free agent after the season.
--DE Luis Castillo got his first sack of the season and 11.5 for his career. The Chargers' pass rush was outstanding Sunday with six sacks.
--WR Malcom Floyd got back into the mix in the passing game with two catches for 25 yards.
--One week after having his best career game, backup RB Michael Turner was quiet with just eight yards on five carries.
--WR Craig Davis aggravated his ankle injury Sunday.
REPORT CARD VS. RAIDERS
PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Philip Rivers has now strung two effective performances together, although this one did come with a hiccup when Thomas Howard intercepted a pass and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown. But overall, Rivers was 14 of 21 for 156 yards. He delivered a pretty efficient balance to the running game, which is stellar. The pass protection was perfect -- no sacks, few pressures.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- LaDainian Tomlinson was everything he always has been when he rumbled 198 yards and scored four touchdowns. The run blocking was sensational. Just an outstanding performance by one of the game's all-time greats.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- The top three corners probably had their top games of the years. Quentin Jammer, Drayton Florence and Antonio Cromartie were solid in their coverages and played with a physical bent. The pass rush was keen as the Chargers collected six sacks after having but 10 entering the game. Shawne Merriman had 2.5 sacks and Shaun Phillips added two. Great burst off the line by both.
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Raiders came in with the NFL's best rushing numbers but were clobbered by the Chargers. Defensive linemen Jamal Williams, Igor Olshansky and Luis Castillo were on their game as the Raiders gained 53 yards on 23 carries.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Darren Sproles continues to get a tackle away from breaking a long one. He did have a 21-yard punt return to go with his 18-yard kickoff return. P Mike Scifres was on as he forced three fair catches. Return team did allow a 29-yarder; Nate Kaeding was wide left on a 50-yard attempt.
COACHING: A -- Norv Turner kept selling his offense and approach even through the cool start. The last two games have shown what the offense is capable of doing under Turner, especially when the running game is humming -- but keeping that run/pass balance Turner always crows about. And defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell gets credit for turning Merriman and Phillips loose, which helped the secondary as well.
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