When Philip Rivers drops back to pass, he has options aplenty at his disposal. Antonio Gates, Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal all average four catches per game or better so far this season. Yet none of those three racked up the most receiving yards against the Bills, with those honors going to Malcom Floyd (two catches, 98 yards) and Ladarius Green (four catches, 64 yards).
The big games by Floyd and Green are noteworthy because neither player caught a ball in last week's win over the Seattle Seahawks.
"You talk about Gates being one of the top touchdown-catching tight ends in history," Rivers said. "Last week he had three, this week it’s Eddie with two. Malcom made some big plays and last week Malcom didn't have a catch. We have a great group of unselfish guys and they know the ball could go anywhere and it could be any guy, any week."
But while the Bolts have pass catchers galore, the team is suddenly short on running backs. One week after losing Ryan Mathews to a sprained MCL that will keep him out another four weeks, the team lost Danny Woodhead to an ankle injury that is expected to end his season.
The Chargers prepared as best they could for an injury at running back, signing Donald Brown to a three-year, $10.5 million deal in the offseason. Brown filled in on Sunday, putting up 89 yards from scrimmage. But the former Indianapolis Colt averaged just 2 yards per carry; San Diego ranks last in the league in yards per rushing attempt.
"Donald stepped up," Mike McCoy said. "He did what he can do. We have to do a better job at the end of the game to give him more of an opportunity to be successful."
San Diego has a pair of young backs who can expect increased roles: Branden Oliver and Marion Grice.
Oliver made his regular-season debut in Buffalo, carrying three times for 11 yards. He excited Bolts fans in the preseason by carrying 35 times for 161 yards (4.6 ypc) and a score. He has earned the nickname "Baby Sproles" and will now have a chance to make a Sprolesian impact.
Grice, this year's sixth-round pick, is on the practice squad but will surely be called up in the wake of Woodhead's injury. Grice is an excellent receiver -- he caught 91 passes over his final two years at Arizona State -- which may help offset the loss of Woodhead, who caught 76 passes in 2013.
If the rookie runners prove up to the task, San Diego's offense may be more dynamic than ever, especially once Mathews returns from injury. If not, the Chargers will lean on Rivers and his deep group of receivers more than ever.
How will the Chargers address the RB position? Discuss inside the message boards.
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 18 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.
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