Notebook: Hope to Open in Rare Form

The Chargers aim to do something they have never done in the Norv Turner era: start a season 2-0. The challenge seems doable -- all it entails is a home win over a mediocre Tennessee Titans squad -- but San Diego must overcome some injuries and rediscover its offensive rhythm to make it happen.

It's hard to quibble about a season-opening road win against a division rival. But the fact is the Oakland Raiders gift-wrapped that game, making it difficult to gauge how strong this year's Chargers team might be.

A better test comes this week when the Titans (0-1) come to town. While Tennessee is hardly a powerhouse, this is still a squad that finished with a better record than the Chargers a season ago. It is a game the Chargers should win -- one they should feel compelled to win if they plan to keep pace with the Denver Broncos, who look every bit the 12-win outfit many analysts projected them to become.


TE Antonio Gates
Kelley L. Cox/U.S. Presswire
The key to success begins on offense. While Philip Rivers & Co. did a stellar job of not turning the ball over last week, the offense fizzled on 3-of-4 trips inside the 11-yard line, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. It will help if the Chargers can generate some kind of run game without Ryan Mathews, who will likely be back in Week 3. Last week, San Diego carved out just 32 net yards rushing, with no individual rusher totaling more than 12 yards on the ground.

If the ground game doesn't spring to life, look for more Antonio Gates in the red zone. Although he is battling a rib injury, Gates will be playing with a purpose as he is three receptions away from 600 for his career. In his last meeting with the Titans, Gates caught five passes for 123 yards and a score.

On defense, the Chargers are concerned about their banged-up secondary. Quentin Jammer broke his hand in Week 1 and is expected to play with a cast, which could limit his effectiveness. Also, Shareece Wright is likely out with an ankle injury, which hampers the nickel defense and the special teams.

The good news on the injury front is that NT Antonio Garay is back practicing without limitations and figures to play. That will help slow down Tennessee's primary playmaker, explosive RB Chris Johnson.

If San Diego can find its groove on offense and contain Johnson on defense, it has a great chance to pick up its eight consecutive victory over the Titans.

Michael Lombardo is 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 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.


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