Right Time to Say 'Bye'

It's a cliche that every team leans on no matter when its bye arrives during the NFL season: it came at the right time.

"I think the bye is coming at a good time," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We were able to win two games in a row, one on the road. I'm making no predictions, but I'm optimistic that we'll get a lot of familiar faces back when we play (Nov. 22) at home against Denver."

The Chargers are back in the AFC West race after winning their second consecutive game, this one a thriller over the Houston Texans. Not only did it represent the Chargers' first road win in five attempts this season, but it got them to the bye with their initial two-game winning streak of the season, momentum and a chance to heal.

What made the Chargers' latest victory their most impressive is the cast of players they pulled it off with. While the Chargers are thrilled with how some of their backups stepped up, they can't help but welcome their prospects with their ailing players getting right.

QB Philip Rivers
Bob Levey/Getty
Among those embracing the bye to heal injuries are Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates (foot) and left guard Kris Dielman (concussion); wide receivers Malcom Floyd (hamstring) and Legedu Naanee (hamstring).

There's no doubt the Chargers dug a deep hole when starting 2-5, especially considering the cupcakes on the schedule they failed to devour. Plus, two of those defeats were divisional losses and came against the teams the Chargers are chasing: Kansas City and Oakland.

But the Chargers didn't cave in when adversity arrived and they are showing signs of the resiliency that has marked the last four years.

"We have the guys to put a run together," cornerback Quentin Jammer said. "We've done it. We've got guys who have been here and been a part of it, so I definitely think we can put a run together. We just have to continue to play them one at a time and win the ones we can control."

While the Chargers have been battling injuries, their most critical player remains fit: Rivers. He hits the bye already throwing for 2,944 yards and 19 touchdowns.

"He can make any throw," coach Norv Turner said. "He understands what we're doing. He makes a lot of guys look like real good players, and we got some young guys that are going to be good players."

The Chargers picked a good time to crawl off the mat. Three of their next four games are against divisional foes and at home: Denver, at Indianapolis, Oakland and Kansas City.

"It's nice to get to 4-5 but we have a long way to go," Rivers said. "I think we've put ourselves in a position to have a chance down the home stretch."


UNDER THE RADAR: Wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu is making the most of his opportunity. The undrafted free agent rookie from Fresno State was presented a game ball after the Chargers beat the Texans when catching four passes for 111 yards, which included a scoring reception of 55 yards.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Chargers are averaging 26.5 points per game and have averaged at least 25 points a game for six consecutive seasons. The last team to do that was the Cleveland Browns from 1950-55.


--TE Antonio Gates (foot, toe) is hopeful he can return when the Chargers play the Broncos on Nov. 22.

--WR Malcom Floyd (hamstring) has made progress after missing two games and could try to practice next week.

--WR Legedu Naanee (hamstring) is expected to be back with the Chargers and resume playing, although the Chargers are being cautious with him.

--LG Kris Dielman (concussion) is hoping he is cleared to return to practice this week, although the team could sit him down this week as well to make sure he's right for game action on Nov. 22.

--WR Vincent Jackson is eligible to come off the roster exempt list for the game against the Colts on Nov. 28. He is already practicing with the team.

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