A few fast facts as we head into the Chargers-Chiefs game:
**The Chargers are first in the league in passing offense and fourth in total offense through nine games. Here’s the stat that counts, though: San Diego is averaging 23 points a game, good for 16th in the NFL. Five of their seven losses came by no more than one score.
**The defense has nine takeaways this season, fourth-worst in the league. Finding a way to make big plays on defense -- especially with an ailing offense -- could bring new life to this team.
**San Diego's offense has rushed for more than 100 yards only one time this season, against the Bengals (131). They rank 30th in the league in rushing. Granted, the team has played from behind most games and has leaned on the strengths of Philip Rivers to make up for the deficit, but the problem is still a glaring one: This team lacks a strong rushing attack, one they can depend on consistently. With the signing of first-round running back Melvin Gordon, it’s still a mystery as to how this team will find its ground game.
Speaking of Gordon ...
“He has great balance and great toughness," said offensive coordinator Frank Reich, when asked about Gordon's strengths thus far. "He's hard to bring down. I've seen him make some pretty impressive 2-and 3-yard runs when there was nothing there. So, I just think he's a big, physical specimen who has great balance and just has a tremendous upside.
“I like the way he works at practice, and he's humble enough to want to keep learning. He doesn't think he has all the answers. Those are all really good things."
**On the other side of the ball, the defense has allowed at least 100 rushing yards in seven of nine games (an average of 4.9 yards per attempt).
Even more concerning are the big plays, said defensive coordinator John Pagano.
“I think the most disappointing thing is the big plays that have crept into our world and [lack of] tackling,” Pagano said Thursday. "Those are two things that, to be a high level defense, you can’t let happen.”
Two new players missed practice Thursday – tight end Antonio Gates (hip; compensating for the MCL sprain in his knee) and offensive lineman DJ Fluker (concussion that appears to have been suffered during Wednesday’s practice).
Tight end Ladarius Green and WR Malcom Floyd also did not practice.
DE Corey Liuget and LB Manti Te’o were limited.