Jaguars at Chargers game snapshot

The San Diego Chargers play the Jacksonville Jaguars at home this weekend, completing a two-game set at Qualcomm before heading for two on the road.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/10/04
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots, Scott Kaplan
SERIES: 2nd game. The only previous meeting between the two teams was last year when the Jaguars won, 27-21, at Alltel Stadium.
2004 RANKINGS: Jaguars: offense 28th (26th rush, 27th pass); defense 8th (16th rush, 10th pass). Chargers: offense 18th (8th rush, 21st pass); defense 23rd (5th rush, 29th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Can the Chargers maintain balance on offense? QB Drew Brees is coming off the best game of his career, but has yet to string together many good performances in his career. But it's essential to keep the Jaguars' strong defense from keying on RB LaDainian Tomlinson. WR Reche Caldwell is emerging as a go-to target for Brees and TE Antonio Gates is tied for the AFC lead with nine third-down receptions for first downs. While the Jaguars will be tough to move the ball against, Jacksonville's offense is unpredictable at best. WR Jimmy Smith has been the team's only deep threat and the Jaguars need more production out of RB Fred Taylor to avoid long passing situations. But QB Byron Leftwich has done a good job of avoiding turnovers and leading the team in close games.

FAST FACTS: Jaguars: Won the only previous meeting, 27-21, last season. .. Leftwich has thrown a touchdown in nine consecutive games, tying a team record. ... Have gone 15 games without allowing a 100-yard receiver. Chargers: Tomlinson is the team's all-time leading rusher with 4,979 yards. ... Offense has converted 21 of 48 (43.8 percent) of its third-down situations.

PREDICTION: Jaguars 20-17

INSIDE THE CAMPS

Chargers:
The Chargers breathed a sigh of relief with running back LaDainian Tomlinson returning to practice on Thursday.

Tomlinson didn't work on Wednesday, deciding to rest his sore groin. He injured it toward the later stages of Sunday's 38-17 win over the Titans.

It's hard to underestimate how important Tomlinson is to the Chargers. That's why the Chargers are being extra cautious in dealing with the star running back.

While Tomlinson worked, it was obvious he was running with care. There were no quick bursts and the cutbacks were held to a minimum. But that being said, Tomlinson should be ready for Sunday's game with the Jaguars.

Although, keep an eye on Tomlinson. His groin could act up if he becomes fatigued as the game wears on. Plus, a sore big toe made him pull himself out of a handful of plays three weeks ago. That seems healed, but it's worth noting.

If Tomlinson does get nailed by one of these nagging injuries, Jesse Chatman would get the call. Chatman, a third-year pro, gave the Chargers a reason to believe he could be a decent backup with a shifty, 21-yard touchdown run.

Jaguars:
Tight end Todd Yoder, who had just two starts in his first four seasons in Tampa Bay, will likely make his third start Sunday in San Diego.

That's because Kyle Brady is listed as out with a staph infection, although he saw limited duty in practice Thursday, and George Wrighster is questionable with a back injury and didn't practice Thursday.

Although, there's a chance that Wrighster could return, Yoder has been getting all the work with the first team.

Yoder spent his first four seasons with the Bucs after signing with them as an undrafted free agent from Vanderbilt in 2000. He then joined the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent on April 21.

"I just do my job and get in there and do all I can to help us out. When I came here, I thought I'd help out on special teams and if the opportunity presented itself and I got the chance to play tight end, I'd make the most of it," he said.

Yoder is noted as a good blocker, but has yet to catch a pass.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Chargers:
  • DE DeQuincy Scott (knee) was very limited in practice. He missed out on Friday's practice and will likely miss the game. If he can't go, rookies Dave Ball and Shaun Phillips would get more playing time.

  • WR/PR Eric Parker (neck) didn't practice. If Parker can't return punts, Reche Caldwell would likely do it. In the base offense, Parker would be replaced by Kassim Osgood.

  • QB Drew Brees (left shoulder) took his full turn Thursday and Friday.

  • WR Tim Dwight (toe) didn't practice. Drayton Florence would replace him on kick returns. Micah Ross could see some playing time as the No. 3 receiver.

  • S Terrence Kiel (shoulder) is fine.

  • DT Jamal Williams (abdomen) practiced.


  • Jaguars:
  • OT Mike Pearson, who went on IR Tuesday with a knee injury, underwent reconstructive knee surgery Thursday in Birmingham, Ala. It was performed by Dr. James Andrews.

  • OT Ephraim Salaam will make his first start for the Jaguars Sunday in San Diego in place of Mike Pearson, who underwent reconstructive knee surgery Thursday.

  • TE Todd Yoder, who started two games in Tampa in four years, is likely to make his third start Sunday because Kyle Brady is out with a staph infection and George Wrighster is questionable with a back injury.

  • TE George Wrighster is questionable with a back injury and didn't practice Thursday.

  • DE Lionel Barnes is probable and practicing for the third straight week. Two weeks ago he was inactive and last week he started so it remains to be seen if he'll play.

  • FB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala is healthy and off the injury report for the first time this season, but may not play because the team seems set at running back and didn't even active Marc Edwards last Sunday.



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