Bolts Notebook: 10-19

Norv Turner had set the bar pretty low when it comes to early success, but somehow the Chargers have slithered under it. What will it take to construct another late-season rally? We break it down in this Bolts Notebook.

--If the primary culprit in San Diego's first two losses was kick coverage, the guilty party in the last two was the run defense. Michael Bush and Steven Jackson both topped the century mark against San Diego, while Jackson iced the latest defeat by running for a pair of first downs with time running out.

Inside linebackers Stephen Cooper and Kevin Burnett both struggled at the point of attack. The team has sorely missed ILB Brandon Siler (foot), who is San Diego's strongest run defender. The Chargers are also missing third-round pick Donald Butler, who would be helping the kick coverage and run defense had he not injured his knee in the offseason.

Speaking of the run defense, Cam Thomas was active for the second consecutive week and struggled to anchor the middle. Ogemdi Nwagbuo took Thomas' place on the inactive list, a mistake that will not likely be repeated in Week 7.



--San Diego's receiving corps is in disarray. Coach Norv Turner says it is unlikely Malcom Floyd (hamstring) will be able to go against the New England Patriots. Legedu Naanee is battling a hamstring injury of his own, and while he should be back for Week 7, he will not be 100 percent.

Buster Davis is healthy (save for a nagging rib injury) but perplexing. He made three great catches against the Rams, including his first TD since his rookie season, but he had as many drops as receptions. Patrick Crayton was the team's only dependable pass catcher and was rewarded with six receptions and 117 yards; he will likely be the No. 1 receiver on Sunday.

As for Floyd, he entered the league in 2004 and has played in all 16 games just once (last season), so the Chargers should not be too surprised he is missing time.



--The Chargers activated Richard Goodman before the Rams game to help on special teams. On San Diego's first punt, Goodman failed to break down in front of PR Danny Amendola, who shook free for a 42-yard return.

Here's a question: If the Chargers were looking for someone to cover kicks, why not re-sign Brandon Hughes (currently on the New York Giants' practice squad). Hughes, a physical defender, is far better equipped for tackling players in space.

To be fair, Goodman was forced to play some receiver down the stretch thanks to a rash of injuries at that position, although the Chargers never intended to throw him the ball. When Goodman was in the game, Coach Turner must have been thinking, "We couldn't find room to keep Josh Reed but we had room for J.T. O'Sullivan?"

Reed, who has over 300 career receptions and is still a free agent, would have looked really appealing to Philip Rivers late in the Rams game.



--A 3-4 defense is designed to bring pressure off the edges, which is a problem for a team that has only one edge rusher (Shaun Phillips). San Diego's only other outside linebackers are waiver-wire pickups (Antwan Barnes and Cyril Obiozor) and former undrafted free agents (Antwan Applewhite and Brandon Lang).

Barnes made his debut against the Rams and his biggest play may have cost the Chargers the game. He was flagged for roughing the passer after the Chargers had stopped the Rams on third down late in the first half. Instead of bringing out the field goal team, the Rams got a fresh set of downs and got the touchdown two plays later. That four-point swing is huge in a game the Chargers lost by only three points.

It may be only a matter of time until Marques Harris, currently a free agent, gets his annual mid-season invite.



What are Chargers fans saying about the Pats game? See in the message boards.




Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.


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