Lightning Quicks: Sunday primer

The special teams units have been phenomenal this year. So much so that San Diego Chargers' head coach Marty Schottenheimer called it the difference maker of the season.

  • Mike Scifres doing well in his first year as a starter has a 41.9-yard average. He has not had many of his punts returned and Marty Schottenheimer continually refers to him as a weapon.

    He has been nothing short of phenomenal replacing the departed Darren Bennett.

    "The punter, to me, is amazing," Schottenheimer said of Scifres. "He has had 32 punts this year. Thirteen have been inside the twenty. Only eight have been returned for an average of 5.6. The hang time is huge. They had one punt returned and four fair catches (last week against Carolina.) That is certainly winning in the kicking game."

    But he'll be tested by Raiders PR Phillip Buchanon. He brought one back 80 yards last year for a score against the Chargers.

  • No AFC player has more receptions than TE Antonio Gates (44). Not bad from a guy they picked up out of Kent State as an undrafted free agent a year ago.

    The former college basketball standout leads the NFL with 18 third-down catches, good for 213 yards (third in the NFL) and three touchdowns (tied for second in the NFL).

    Tight Ends' coach Tim Brewster was one of only two scouts who worked him out and was instrumental in bringing him to San Diego.

    A.J. Smith mentioned that at least ten teams had an interest in him but it came down to Cleveland and San Diego – the two team's that were at his workout.

  • Quentin Jammer said if there were any disbelievers in his locker room, there aren't anymore after that road win at Carolina.

    "It's good if there were any doubters on this football team," he said. "I think (that) win will help us come together."

    Jammer was actually picked on more than any other week this year against Carolina. He played well, but not nearly as good as he had been.

    "Jammer got one penalty down in there that was a legitimate call," Schottenheimer said of his game against Carolina. "I have a question on the other. But I am not out there throwing the flags. I think he is playing quite well."

  • Raiders head coach Norv Turner was passed over for the Chargers' job when Mike Riley was fired following the 2002 season. Turner was the offensive coordinator on Riley's last staff in San Diego.

    Raiders owner Al Davis was once a Chargers assistant, and was instrumental in the team signing WR Lance Alworth.

    "I think Al and the Raiders have always brought in talented people," Turner said of his team on a conference call this week. "We just have to keep working to get our guys to where we're playing together on all three phases."

  • It'll be interesting to see if DE Adrian Dingle (knee) can go Sunday, after missing three straight games.

    Dingle's name doesn't show up on the injury report, but it hasn't shown up either, of late, on the active list of Sunday players. He's fine in practice, but he can't guarantee coach Marty Schottenheimer 30-or-so snaps, so Schottenheimer goes with someone to help on special teams.

    Schottenheimer said he will dress six defensive linemen on Sunday but would not declare that Dingle would be on that list.

  • When Dingle doesn't play, it makes rookie Igor Olshansky flip to the right side and puts Jacques Cesaire, who's built better for interior play, at left end. The team is missing Dingle's pass-rushing; his six sacks were the most of a Chargers end last year.

  • Why not throw caution to the wind and let QB Drew Brees take over?

    The Chargers might take that route for a number of reasons. Their running game is a bit banged-up with LaDainian Tomlinson (groin) and Jesse Chatman (toe) nursing injuries. So take the load off them and put it on a passing game which has been reliable, although not spectacular, for most the year.

    Plus, the Raiders have allowed 11 touchdowns passes to show against four interceptions. Rival quarterbacks have a 95.6 rating against a secondary which is far from fit.

    So the Chargers could tease the Raiders with the run, but beat them with the pass.

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