Chargers Look to Rebound Against Denver

The San Diego Chargers come home to play the Denver Broncos in a 1:15 PM PST game this Sunday. The Bolts are 29-14 all-time in home openers and are looking to bounce back from a 27-14 loss to Kansas City a week ago. Denver is 1-0 after a solid game against the Bengals, a 30-10 thrashing.<br><br> The bad news seems to have come early this week...the Chargers will likely be without one of their main weapons on Sunday.

The San Diego Chargers are 27-16 lifetime at home against the Denver Broncos. The teams have played each other 86 times, with Denver holding a 47-38-1 edge.

This will be the fourth time the Chargers have faced the Broncos in a home opener. The last time was in 1982, when San Diego defeated Denver, 30-20. The Chargers are a perfect 3-0 against the Broncos in home openers, having also picked up victories in 1972 (37-14) and 1965 (34-31).

"Anytime we play SD it is usually a physical football game," Denver Coach Mike Shanahan said. "Hopefully we will play a little better against their great running back then we did last year."

Last year, LaDainian Tomlinson rushed the ball for a team-record and career-high 220 yards on 37 carries and added a season-high 11 passes for 51 yards to give him 271 total yards from scrimmage. Last week he had just 34 yards rushing and 61 yards from scrimmage.

"It's a long season and I'll make my move," Tomlinson said. "Teams will try to take the running game away from us. That is one way to get me in the game, throwing me the ball."

While piling up 120 rushing yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns in the Broncos ' Week 1 win at Cincinnati, running back Clinton Portis set a new franchise record for most rushing yards in the team's season opener and became the first Broncos back to rush for more than 100 yards in a season opener on the road . In addition, it was only the sixth time in the franchise's 44 season openers that a back rushed for more than 100 yards.

"It is hard to grow when you have 1,500 yards as a rookie, Shanahan added. "There are some high expectations. I think if you do that every year, you'll be a pretty good player. But I think Clinton believes he can always improve. I look at the big improvement as a wide receiver. What I mean by that is the back out of the backfield catching the football — he's much improved in that area. If he can have 5.2 yards per carry like last year I will still be pleased."

It will not all be about the running backs. They may be crucial, but the young Chargers defense must prove it is worthy to compete in the AFC West.

"Their team speed has improved, even though they lost Junior and lost Rodney," said Shanahan. "Overall I think their team speed is as good as I have seen it."

"I'm glad (Junior Seau is) gone," tight end Shannon Sharpe said. "I am glad Rodney Harrison is gone too. Junior has been to 12 consecutive Pro Bowls, and he is one of the premier linebackers in the game. I don't know if you can get that back with what they replaced him with. I have trouble believing that what they lost, they have gotten back already.

"It is hard for me to believe the guy they replaced him with, is as good as Junior is."

Zeke Moreno may be one of the keys this week. Moreno did not show the nose for the ball he has shown previously and was bottled up by a tough Kansas City offensive line. Still, Sharpe has just directed an attack at the young linebacker and in game is the place to fight back.

The secondary must contend with injuries that could force Tay Cody to the sidelines.

"They came out in the first half and KC tore em up," quarterback Jake Plummer said. "They came out in the second half and played straight man and they played a lot better in that second half. They are going to challenge me to beat them outside and if we can run the ball, we will get the matchups we want out there.

"They are going to come out and force me to beat them. If we can get to the outside then we have a good shot at getting the win. They have a warrior in Kwamie Lassiter. I loved playing with Kwamie because he is such a great player. I am not sure how much of an impact he will make on their defense, though."

"They are going to work this week in practice and they are not going to make the same mistakes they made in Kansas City," Sharpe added.

The secondary is young, and there is no telling how they will respond from week to week. The encouraging strides made in the second half in KC must be carried over to the home opener this week.

Another blow could be dealt to the Bolts this week. David Boston is listed as questionable and did not practice Wednesday. His heel continues to be an issue.

"He is so big and strong, Plummer said. "That is the thing with him, he is so physical, you can still play bump and run and he is still going to get that separation. If they ask me about it, you gotta continue to peck away at it. He is going to make plays. He is a presence out there. I don't think you can stop him, you just hope he doesn't get a big one and take one deep.

"He treats his body like a church. He does everything he can to keep in tiptop shape. He has gotten a lot bigger than most receivers. It helps him in a lot of areas, but it hurts him in some too."

"If I keep practicing, it's never going to go away, so I'd better take some time to rest it and come back full speed," Boston said.

"Right now, I'm not planning on practicing this week, so (Schottenheimer) has that rule, if you don't practice, you don't play. So for right now, I'd say I'm not going to play."

"I can't even (speculate) because he has that rule. So for me to spend time thinking about it, about practicing (today) or Friday, I don't think about it. Because that rule has gotten him a long way in this league and he certainly believes in it. So I know that if I don't practice, I'm not going to play."

"We think we have a couple of pretty good people here," Schottenheimer said. "Reche Caldwell struggled the other day, dropped a couple of balls, and that hasn't been his history, and Tim Dwight's had a terrific training camp and preseason, and Eric Parker has played very, very well for us also. If in fact David's not available, we're comfortable with the guys that can play."

That hurt could come this week. If he sits out to rest the heel, Denver will be able to tee off on Tomlinson. Everyone in San Diego, for the home opener, is hoping to see the Chargers offense unveiled in its entirety.

"There's really nothing to panic about," Tomlinson stated. "We knew what we were going into with Kansas City, the hostile environment, and a very good team. We've got a lot to look forward to. So I have confidence."

Denis Savage can be reached at

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