Chargers brewing a competition at quarterback

Is there a competition brewing in San Diego? Perhaps it is a few weeks away or it could happen by the end of Friday night. It is inevitable; there will be a battle at the quarterback position between Philip Rivers and Drew Brees. Forget what the coach says, the battle will rage on soon enough and given the likelihood of the team's success this year, Rivers could be starting sooner than some think.

Philip Rivers got an increased workload at practice after missing several weeks of camp and is in catch up mode. He even stayed after practice on Thursday to work out the kinks.

He has a lot to learn and even more time needs to be spent on the practice field getting to know the nuances of the receiving corps. Without the continual reps, Rivers will have a hard time unseating Drew Brees.

Speaking of Brees, he has looked solid in camp and in early preseason action. The veteran, entering his fourth year out of Purdue, entered training camp with a new demeanor after souring throughout the offseason.

He took the blame that was placed on him to heart and fired back. It left many questioning whether he would even return to the club. Now he is showing the class that earned him the hearts of San Diegans early in his career.

Still, there is the cloud of Rivers over his head.

Challenge, however, is nothing new to Brees. He has won a battle of his own – coming two years ago when he beat out Doug Flutie for the starting job. Last year he was the starter but felt the agony of defeat when he was pulled in season.

"Every year is a little bit different," Brees explained. "Coming in as a rookie I was trying to get better everyday. I tried to prepare myself as if I was going to be the starter. The next year Doug and I are competing for a job, even though I am the one that has not started before. Last year coming in as the definite starter and now this year coming in as the incumbent with a younger guy who they bring in to compete with me. Every year has been a little different but the competition is all the same."

His response to the competition has been glowing. Brees has not shied away from the field and has actually looked like the general many envisioned when he first stepped onto the practice field.

Coach Schottenheimer echoed those sentiments, with a caveat.

"He is on a mission," Schottenheimer said. "And certainly it is an important year for him."

It is an important year for Brees but the benefit he will earn won't be in San Diego. The Chargers selected Philip Rivers in the first round for a reason. They want him to be their starter. If the team had their way, Rivers would be the opening day quarterback.

That is not how the story will be told. Instead Rivers is wringing out whatever advice he can from Brees.

"We get along great," Rivers said. "We pull for each other and learn from each other, you learn from what they do well, you learn from their mistakes and vice versa. It has been fun."

Right now, Rivers is the one making more mistakes. What can you expect from a kid who just completed his second day of camp? When he enters the game on Friday, it will be the true test of his character.

"I think he's done about as well as might be expected," Schottenheimer said. "I'm anxious to see him play in a game, because that will be a much better barometer for us."

The first look at Rivers could be an extended one in the game vs. the Seahawks. Could it be a prelude to a starting gig in the not so distant future?

Remember when Coach Schottenheimer said he was tired of kicking field goals. Touchdown drives have a funny way of swaying the odds.

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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