The Task At Hand

The Chargers will be fighting the urge to run to their cell phones and call home to check on loved ones, while the Bears' task is to make sure they don't allow their opponents' plight to distract them Sunday.

"The biggest thing we have to worry about is not letting their distractions become our distractions," defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. "Our biggest thing is for our guys not to think this is going to be any easier because of the things that they're going through."

The Chargers were forced to move Monday night's "home" game to Tempe, Arizona, where they lost 26-10 to the Dolphins. They returned to San Diego and practiced indoors at the University of California-San Diego on Wednesday afternoon because the air quality makes any kind of outdoor activity unhealthy. The Chargers then flew to Champaign, where they will practice for three days at the University of Illinois before flying into Chicago Saturday.

At least 10 players have had to evacuate their homes and business director John Hinek's home was destroyed.

"It's a tremendously serious situation back home with everything that's going on," said Drew Brees. "Gosh, what did they say, 1,800 homes have been lost and thousands and thousands of acres have burned? A firefighter died. Eighteen people have died. It's serious. Even though we are here, our thoughts are with the community and our families.

"Somebody in a situation like the Chargers are right now, a lot of times that will rally a team together and sometimes they can play better," Bears quarterback Chris Chandler said. "So you have to expect nothing but the best from these guys, and I'm sure they'll give it to us."

If the Bears expect any less, they could fall into a trap that coaches have been warning them about all week.

Shortly before flying to Champaign, Chargers defensive end Marcellus Wiley said he was trying to prevent the situation from affecting his preparation, but based on his description of the surrounding area, that wouldn't be easy.

"If you ever have an image of Lebanon or Beirut or something crazy like that, it's kind of like that without gunfire," Wiley said. "It's just that kind of dull in the air. The daytime looks like nighttime pretty much. You drive by areas and they're charred, whereas before they were pretty and green (like) San Diego is, a beautiful city. Now it's been darkened. You're constantly watching the news and constantly seeing the fires shift and destroy lives and people up in the air as to what to do. It's very tough, it's a very difficult situation, but there are some true victims out there that are suffering because their lives have totally been destroyed."

Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer says he'd prefer no changes to his normal routine, but he doesn't think the disruptions will bother his players, but of course, he said the same thing last week and the team was down 24-3 by halftime.

"Players in pro sports have come to understand that there's constant change in their business," Schottenheimer said. "It's a short week, we're on a short leash. But change is something they're accustomed to."

Schottenheimer's not using the short week or the disaster and destruction as an excuse, and Bears coach Dick Jauron doesn't expect any less of an effort from the Chargers.

"I don't assume that they'll have a bad week at all," Jauron said. "I would assume that they'll have a tremendous week of practice. They'll be ready to play. They have a good team. They're a young team, and they do play hard. And they've had some things go against them in games and we understand that."

"We understand we have a job to do here," added Brees. "And maybe if we can come out with a win that will be something good for San Diego."

"It is a trap," Blache said. "If we're not aware of it we'll walk right into it and we'll be hanging."

The Chargers have generally be the ones with the nooses around their necks all season. It would be nice to see how it feels to be holding the hatchet.

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