Lightning Quicks: Chargers aware of screen pass

Not having Priest Holmes in the lineup this weekend is a blessing for the San Diego Chargers. He has single-handedly whipped the Bolts in the past few meetings. One of the banes – the screen pass.

  • The Chargers have not had a fun time trying to cover screen passes in the past. And the beginning of this year promised the same when Houston running backs' Tony Hollings and Domanick Davis each took a screen pass and turned it into a long gain.

    Since then, the Chargers have worked hard on snuffing out such plays. They have increased their speed at the linebacker position this year and, of course, have one more linebacker to make plays. The result has been fewer big plays on screen passes.

    But the Chiefs run the screen better than most teams. They have offensive linemen who can get outside to set it up and with Trent Green playing well it could setup some big gains.

    Expect a spy to be used on the running back – possibly Stephen Cooper in third down situations. Cooper is getting more play with Zeke Moreno out and is a tenacious defender that the Chargers are enamored with.

  • The return to health of LaDainian Tomlinson could mean a few screen passes of their own. It has been a missing element of the game for San Diego this year and when they have run it is has been ineffective.

    First, it was the line play that could not get out into open space to setup the play and then Tomlinson's groin injury prevented him from being able to make cuts behind his blocks.

    Now the line is playing better on the edges and the pulls outside are becoming crisper. This could allow the Chargers to draw the Kansas City defense in and give Tomlinson some room to run with blockers in front.

  • Donnie Edwards has generally been the one to cover Tony Gonzalez in the past and has, minus one game, done a commendable job slowing down the talented tight end. But this week it could be Ben Leber who gets Gonzalez. Last year it was Leber who got bull-rushed by Gonzalez along the sidelines and inside the ten yard line in the 13th week of the season. Gonzalez walked into the end zone after knocking Leber down.

    For their part, the Chargers kept Gonzalez to six catches in two meetings last year. But he remains the most consistent receiving threat on the team and the Bolts will not have the comfort of Edwards to slow him down with their new defensive alignment.

  • Vonnie Holliday torched Damian Sackintosh last season but he is hobbled by a knee injury this week and is listed as questionable. He will likely play but will not enjoy the same success he had a year ago.

    The Bolts line has been revamped for the better. They have allowed just 12 sacks this year (four coming in Denver and one sack taken by Tomlinson) and only five have come over the past seven games.

    As with every game it begins in the trenches and Brees is thankful to his unit for their solid play, noting that the consistency along the line has also aided the cause. They have been together as a unit for all but two of the games this year.

  • Dante Hall may have given his super powers to Eddie Drummond this year but he remains a dangerous foe on punt and kick returns.

    Mike Scifres, however, is becoming known as the neutralizer. Only eleven punts have been returned by the opposition this season – the fewest total in the league. That is, on average, roughly one punt being returned per game.

    Scifres' mandate has been to kick it high most times out with the occasional long boot. He has the leg to drive it down the field fifty plus yards each time out but the Bolts prefer the kicks that go 40-45 with hang time so they can get their coverage units in place to prevent returns.

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