How Chargers QB Philip Rivers perfected his hard count

The Alabama native has been practicing it for more than two decades.

Twice against the Lions Sunday, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers used the hard count to get the defense to jump offsides on key third-downs, gifting the offense with a new set of downs.

It's something he's worked on since he was a kid in Alabama.

"I grew up practicing my cadences young [when I was] around my dad’s teams,” he said.  “But I think -- probably gradually -- you start to learn what works and what doesn’t work in college. It kind of changes based on the cadence and how it’s taught to you.  You get to the NFL and it’s different.  [There’s] a different rhythm, different things and different cadence here, so it’s kind of changed over the years."

Those plays aren't recorded as third-down conversions -- instead, as penalties on the opposing team -- but Rivers will take it. He knows how impactful they are, especially in a come-from-behind drive to give the offense a chance.

His head coach does, too.

"It was big," Mike McCoy said Wednesday. "Any way we can get a first down and do what we can do to move the chains is big.”

It will be tougher to do on the road, with the crowd noise a factor. But, having it in his arsenal means Rivers can call on it when he needs to -- and sometimes, it can be the difference in a game. Rivers' ability to change the cadence keeps defenses on their heels.

"Without a doubt that’s something you’ve got to mix it up," McCoy said. "Whether it’s a quick count, whether there’s some hesitation in your count [or] whether you’re looking at the clock and the wide variety you give the defense. There are some great pass rushers, too. You talk about the personnel and the skill guys, but the pass rush you’ve got to keep off balance too.  So it’s not only chip help, sliding certain ways and doubling certain guys.  It’s also in the cadence you can help those guys too."


**Safety Jahleel Addae did not practice Thursday, but was seen in the locker room without a walking boot. See the video above for the status on his condition and how he hurt his ankle.

**Injury report: Addae, D.J. Fluker, Jacoby Jones, Johnnie Troutman and Tourek Williams did not practice Thursday; Kyle Emanuel was limited.

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