Bolts Notebook, Week 1: Ready, Set…

The Chargers look to start strong -- finally -- as they host the Vikings on Sunday. But from injuries at wide receiver to new faces on defense, San Diego has plenty of obstacles to overcome. We break down the key points in this week's pre-game notebook.

Déjà Vu Already?

Last season, Philip Rivers was forced to spend too much time throwing to street free agents and former undrafted receivers. This year could start off in a similar fashion.

With Patrick Crayton (ankle) and Vincent Brown (hamstring) likely out with injuries, the No. 3 and No. 4 receivers will be 2010 undrafted free agents Bryan Walters and Richard Goodman. Walters and Goodman will do their heavy lifting on special teams, returning punts and kickoffs, respectively, but they will play some offense, too.

Looking for a secret weapon? Keep your eye on No. 3 tight end Kory Sperry. He showed flashes last season and shined during training camp. When Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson draw hoards of defenders, Sperry may be the one to cash in.

What a Welcome

SS Bob Sanders
C. Hanewinckel/U.S. Presswire
Bob Sanders, Takeo Spikes and Corey Liuget will each start on opening day despite being new to the Chargers. Their newness gives them one advantage: they were not with the Chargers when the team was steamrolled by Adrian Peterson in 2007 to the tune of 296 rushing yards.

Sanders and Spikes were brought aboard to inject some toughness into the middle of the run defense. Their mission will be to shut down the run on first and second down and create obvious passing situations.

Liuget was drafted more for his pass-rushing skills, but his ability to collapse the pocket could be huge in Week 1. The key to stopping Peterson is slowing him down before he builds momentum.

Four defensive starters were there for the '07 game: Luis Castillo, Shaun Phillips, Quentin Jammer and Eric Weddle. Castillo, Phillips and Jammer were each injured in the record-setting game four years ago. Weddle was only a backup at the time.

Showtime for Turner

The Chargers have started 2-3 every year under Turner. They lost their opener in 2010 to eventual division champion Kansas City. They have not opened a year at home since 2008, when they fell on the game's final play to the visiting Panthers. If there was ever pressure on a coach to deliver a fast start, Turner is feeling it now.

If Turner can lead his troops to a win, it will go a long way towards showing the Chargers finally learned their lesson after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2005. Another loss, however, will surely result in the Chargers getting booed off the field just as they were in Turner's fourth-ever game as San Diego's head coach.

The cliché "it's just one game" doesn't apply here. The Chargers need this one and Turner -- and everybody else -- knows it.

What will be the final score of Sunday's game? Discuss inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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