Ready for a big game

The biggest criticism facing the Chargers offense heading into this season was that the team lacked supporting talent to complement LaDainian Tomlinson. So far this season, the development of Tomlinson's supporting cast has proven to be key.

In the win over the Texans it was Antonio Gates that stepped up and made big plays on third down. In the win over the Titans, it was Reche Caldwell who came up huge in the clutch. Now the Chargers need a new face to step up this week if they are going to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Second year wide receiver Kassim Osgood would seem as good a candidate as anybody. After all, no receiver on the team other than Caldwell or Gates has yet to register 100 receiving yards on the season. With Gates at tight end and Caldwell holding down one receiver spot, logic says there is another spot open in the starting line-up for someone who can make some plays.

Tim Dwight is at the point in his career where it is now clear he is best utilized on special teams and sub-packages on offense. Eric Parker has been given opportunities for the two years now and has yet to produce. He has a smallish frame and always seems too nicked up to be effective. Then there is Micah Ross, who contributes more covering kicks than catching footballs. That would leave Osgood as the only pass-catcher remaining with any significant upside.

At nearly six and a half feet tall, Osgood has the ability to dominate in the red zone. Also, he spent the off-season training with Randy Moss to improve his speed and conditioning. Now, with the Chargers needing more production from any receiver not named Caldwell, Osgood seems destined for a increased role.

However, Osgood was nowhere to be seen against the Titans. Of course, just one week prior a special team's blunder made him the goat for the loss at Denver. Now it is time to see if Osgood is a competitor who will bounce back, or if he will continue to keep his head in the proverbial sand.

Against the Jaguars, Gates will have to deal with strong safety Donovan Darius, the Jaguars' franchise player. Caldwell too will have his hands full, going against Rashean Mathis, the 39th pick in the 2003 draft. Fortunately, the Chargers number two receiver will have the luxury of going against Steelers retread Dewayne Washington.

Seeing as this is sure to be a defensive game, Osgood is the obvious choice to exploit that advantage. Osgood is six inches taller and significantly younger than Washington. The Chargers need to have faith that if they toss the ball up to him that he will come down with it. As of now, Osgood is the second best pass catching wide receiver on the team. So as a result of Eric Parker's back injury, Osgood should be given an expanded role in the offense.

Another thing working in Osgood's favor is that he may be able to sneak up on the Jaguars, because not many people know how good he can be as of yet. Well, except for Dewayne Washington that is, who was in the Steelers' secondary last season when Osgood went off for 102 yards receiving and a touchdown. Now Osgood faces the same match-up, except now he is one year wiser, and Washington is one year older. Those are the kind of match-ups the Chargers have to exploit if they are going to be successful this weekend.

While he is not on pace for the 1,000 yard season he proclaimed to us, he could be vital down the stretch again.

Osgood works hard week in and week out to get better:

"Preparation during game week, taking practices seriously, look at film," he said. "Coach Lofton shows me what to look for, how to set up your opponent, how to find ways to get open and how to picture a play going in your head and how (that play) would look against that particular defense you see that week."

This week it is the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at Lombardo@sandiegosports.net

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