Raiders at Chargers Pre-game Notes

The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders will meet this weekend for the 89th time in their history. The Raiders lead the series, 55-31-2, winning the past two. No loss all season for the Chargers was as painful as the overtime defeat in Oakland on Sept. 28, 34-31. The Bolts entered the fourth quarter with a 24-14 lead, but allowed the Raiders to outscore them 17-to-3 to force an overtime. <br><br> The Raiders have won three in a row over the Chargers at Qualcomm and six of their last se

Chargers Notes:

The Raiders will face a Chargers offense this time that features WR David Boston. He missed the last meeting because he was suspended for breaking team rules. David Boston has been battling flu symptons this week but should be a go.

Tomlinson is eight catches shy of being the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and have 100 receptions in the same season.

QB Drew Brees, who has turned the ball over six times the last two games, will start again on Sunday. He was pulled with four minutes left in Sunday's loss to the Steelers, and was replaced by Doug Flutie.

TE Antonio Gates continues to finish strong. In his last eight games, since moving into the starting lineup, he has caught 19 passes for 315 yards and two TDs. He could, though, be bothered by a sprained ankle this week.

AJ Smith, who's had a less than a memorable rookie season as a GM, was told by team president Dean Spanos he will return in 2004. "Anything beyond that, you'll have to ask Dean Spanos," said Smith, who signed a four-year contract in April.

"We are not in the market for a head coach" -- GM A.J. Smith, on Schottenheimer's job status.

This is likely the final game for P Darren Bennett as a Charger. He's at the end of his four-year deal, and the team will probably go with rookie Mike Scifres next year. "I'M 99 percent sure that is going to happen," Bennett said.

Raiders QB coach Jim Harbaugh is a former Charger. Right after Sunday's game, he takes over as the head coach for the University of San Diego.

The only players with more receiving yards than Chargers receivers coach James Lofton (14,004) will be on the field Sunday: Jerry Rice and Tim Brown.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer's all-time record against the Raiders is 20-7.

Chargers Injury Report:

Reche Caldwell, fit or not fit, has lost his starting job to rookie Kassim Osgood. This was the year Caldwell was going to blossom into a No. 2 receiver. Instead, he's been dogged by injuries -- now he has a strained hamstring and will not play -- and in the mean time Osgood has come on. Osgood had his first 100-yard game in the loss at Pittsburgh, and he will start opposite of David Boston on Sunday.

C Jason Ball (ankle) won't play, giving way to veteran Cory Raymer.

LT Solomon Page (ankles) wont play, which means journeyman Ed Ellis, will. That's a huge drop off.

LT Damion McIntosh (ankle) won't play.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson (shoulder) practiced Friday, and he will play on Sunday.

TE Antonio Gates (ankle) is a go for Sunday after practicing Friday.

DT DeQuincy Scott (foot) is hobbling around pretty good. Even if he plays Sunday, it's doubtful he will be able to deliver the inside push which has let him collect 5.5 sacks, which ties for the team lead.

Raiders Notes:

The Raiders enter the game with an 0-7 record in road games. Asked what happened a year after the Raiders went 5-3 on the road, Callahan attributed it to what he calls "T and T's".

"Turnovers and third downs," Callahan said. "That is the major focus on the road as you enter a hostile environment. I don't think we have fared very well in those two areas on the road."

Actually, the Raiders have performed better than average on turnover differential on the road. They have 11 turnovers and 12 takeaways for a plus one statistic.

However, the third-down numbers validate Callahan's thinking. The team is 27 for 93 for 29 percent success in away games. And although the team is only 37 for 109 at home (34 percent), it is third down defense that has done them in. Opponents are converting 40.4 percent in their home games against Oakland.

With 13 players on injured reserve, the Raiders have had disruptive personnel turnover all year. There have been five quarterbacks play and five changes at left guard during the course of the season. Only left tackle Barry Sims has played every snap of every game on either side of the ball.

Asked if he had considered playing quarterback, given the state of the position, Sims noted that "I'm pretty good at Madden (computer) football. I'm real good on third down -- like 70 percent making conversions."

Unfortunately, in playing online, he hasn't made those conversions translate into a winning record.

"I'm like 0-12-2 ... I am getting better though," he said.

When he plays online, his opponents don't know they are playing against a bona fide NFL player. Several have asked what the No. 65 in his screen name stood for.

"I tell them I play for the Raiders and that's my number," Sims said. "They don't believe me. They're like 'OK, right ... whatever.' So now if anybody asks me, I just say my brother plays for the Raider. They believe that."

Quarterback Rick Mirer presented his offensive linemen with expensive stereo headphones in appreciation for their work.

The longest punt in the NFL this year was 73 yards by Shane Lechler. It came in the first Oakland-San Diego meeting.

When Lincoln Kennedy tore a triceps muscle in the Green Bay game, Chad Slaughter replaced him at RT and Kennedy's presumed successor, Langston Walker, remained at LG. This week, they will flip-flop with Walker going to RT and Slaughter expected to start at LG, even though he has not started a game at guard since high school.

With WR Jerry Porter doubtful, the Raiders are expected to go to more two tight end formations with Doug Jolley, Teyo Johnson and O.J. Santiago splitting the duties.

Rick Mirer will be the starting quarterback. He was relieved last week by Rob Johnson, then Tee Martin. Martin completed 4-of-5 passes, all to Jerry Rice, in his short stint.

The team released LB Larry Atkins and elevated C Blaine Saipaia to the 53-man roster. Replacing Saipaia on the practice squad is WR James Adkisson.

Raiders Injury Report:

WR Jerry Porter (calf) is a doubtful participant for the San Diego game. He did not practice on Christmas Eve.

C Barret Robbins (knee) has been ruled out of the San Diego but did not go on injured reserve.

RT Lincoln Kennedy (triceps) is listed as doubtful for San Diego but almost certainly will miss the final game of his NFL career.

SS Derrick Gibson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday and is questionable for San Diego.

LB Napoleon Harris (ribs) did not practice Wednesday and although listed as questionable for San Diego, is expected to play.

DT Sean Gilbert (knee) had missed three games with a groin injury but returned to play last week and now has a new injury that has kept him out of practice. He is questionable.

S Nnamdi Asomugha (quad) would replace Gibson if he could not play. Listed as probable, he is practicing with the team.

WR Tim Brown (back) was held out of Wednesday's practice, deferring to his age and club status. He is likely to face San Diego, the team he had his best game against this year -- 6 catches, 110 yards and one of his season total of two touchdowns.


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