Thump and below average

It is no surprise that Drew Brees will return to action this week. After one horrid game and a concussion it is still too early to call it a season.<br><br> The defense, meanwhile, needs a kick in the rear after consecutive games where they were unable to stop the run.

By all accounts, it appears Drew Brees will be the starting quarterback on Sunday in Denver, pending one final series of tests on Wednesday.

Brees was lifted from Sunday's loss to the Jets in the fourth quarter after suffering a concussion. But Brees said the headaches were dwindling and he expects to practice on Wednesday and face the Broncos next week.

"At this point I'm looking great for Sunday," Brees said. "I should be ready to (practice) by Wednesday."

Coach Marty Schottenheimer agreed.

"I think it's highly likely he will play Sunday," he said. Although Schottenheimer did say he has not crystal ball as far as what the week brings.

"I think it's very difficult to predict -- I'm not a doctor -- these concussions," Schottenheimer said. "They are the kind of thing that they may be a certain degree at the onset and they can clear or they can continue to be an issue.

"Technically, he had a first degree, which is considered to be a mild concussion."

Oddly, Brees' numbers were better after he was hit (5 of 7, 72 yards, one touchdown), than before (3 of 12, 74 yards, two interceptions).

"Maybe I should get knocked out more often," Brees said.

TheInsiders Grades:

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Drew Brees struggled big-time in the first half, when he threw for 1 net yard in the opening two quarters. Then he sustained a concussion in the third quarter, and actually he played better before getting pulled right after throwing his long touchdown pass. The pass blocking was decent, but Brees wasn't for the most part, missing some wide-open receivers. Bigger than anything was Brees turning the ball over three times, two coming on interceptions. Reche Caldwell continues to contribute, with his second touchdown in two weeks after getting three in his previous two years. TE Antonio Gates came back down to earth; he had two drops and a set of alligator arms on another potential catch.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- With LaDainian Tomlinson in the equation, there is seldom an average grade here. Tomlinson ran hard -- 87 yards and a score in 19 carries -- but he was unable to gash the defense for the big chunk run. The run-blocking on a line with two rookies and a second-year starter, wasn't much.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Most of the damage came on the underneath and medium routes, with CB Sammy Davis getting picked on. Although the game's biggest play was when Quentin Jammer got beat for a 48-yard pickup when getting beat by Santana Moss. The pass rush never did materialize as Chad Pennington easily picked them apart.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- Bad stuff here. The new 3-4 hasn't clicked yet in stopping the run. In getting picked on badly, as the defensive line was consistently pushed into the linebackers. And the linebackers were often out of position when Curtis Martin reached that level of defense. Two touchdowns and 122 yards came on the ground. In eight quarters this year, the unit has allowed 232 yards and four touchdowns rushing.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Tim Dwight gave the unit a shot in the arm when he brought back a kick 87 yards for a touchdown in his first game of the year. But Eric Parker had a critical fumble on a punt return. The coverage units were fine.

COACHING: D -- Schottenheimer was late getting Brees out of the game, saying he wasn't aware he had sustained a concussion. What's more troubling is for the second straight week, the Chargers have been outclassed in the first half. They could overcome it against the Texans, but not the New York Jets. Schottenheimer has been tooting new coordinator Wade Phillips horn, but the run defense doesn't look any better than last year's woeful unit. Adjustments need to be made defensively quickly, or the Chargers will be run on and over all year.

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