Chargers use reserves to pave the way

It was a big day for the San Diego Chargers' reserves. Some were playing to ensure they are with the team next year while others are hoping the mark they made on Sunday will translate into more playing time in the playoffs.

"We had some young players that needed the opportunity to play and they stepped up," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "Malcom Floyd, Ryan Krause on the receiving end. Andrew Pinnock and Michael Turner, they did a nice job. In the secondary, we had guys that had the opportunity to play and they played well."

In a game that was decided by the Chargers' reserves, they outplayed the Chiefs' regulars to a point of nausea. Although the final scoreboard showed a seven point difference, the Chiefs were far from competing in the game. An onsides kick that they recovered was one of the few moments of glory for their team.

The Chargers got solid play from many of their rookies and players whose names usually dot the inactive list.

Philip Rivers understands that being the third string quarterback in the playoffs is a reality, but that did not stop him from being a kid on Sunday. He tossed the first touchdown pass of his NFL career in the fourth quarter, hitting Malcom Floyd on a fade route. It was also the first touchdown reception in the career of Floyd.

"When I threw it I knew I was going to give him a decent shot," Rivers said of his touchdown toss. "The corner had his back turned and I was able to see him go up through a couple legs and arms. That is what (Floyd) brings to the table. He can jump and run and that is his forte. He came up with two big catches." Floyd, you may recall, hurt himself back in training camp, suffering a broken clavicle. Sunday not only marked the emergence of his first touchdown, it was also the first time he caught an NFL pass. Floyd showed enough during training camp to be kept around and delivered on his promise on Sunday. He ended the day with three receptions for 49 yards.

"I will let him keep it," Rivers said, although Floyd said he would give the ball to Rivers. "He was excited." Rookie Ryan Krause also got in on the action. Inactive through the first 15 games, Krause was playing for a job next year. He made some tough catches, including catching a touchdown from Doug Flutie.

"A rookie having fun out there, trying to have a job for next year," Krause said.

Robb Butler spent time returning kicks and did quite well at it in two chances, although one was called back due to a penalty.

"That is my bread and butter, returning kicks," said Butler. "It is a good experience getting your hands on the ball."

Butler was a wide receiver back in college before getting converted to safety as a senior. The rookie from Robert Morris logged plenty of minutes on defense and also feels comfortable there. His primary hope was that he showed enough to return kicks in the future, even the playoffs.

Second year punter Mike Scifres had a down game and was unhappy with his play after the game.

"The team played great but personally, I didn't have a good game," he said. "Like the coach says everyday, you set a standard for yourself and you should match that standard."

Scifres threw an interception on a botched snap and his longest punt of the day went 41 yards with most bouncing out of bounds or needing an extra hop to get his usual yardage. He hurt his hand earlier in the game but said that was not a factor in his kicks.

The Chargers reserves played a spirited game throughout. They showed their young, eager desire and found a way to come up with the big play, much like the veterans have been doing throughout the year.

"Guys who normally don't get much playing time during the season played extremely well," linebacker Donnie Edwards said.

Chiefs quarterback Trent Green, however, was stung even more by getting beat by the preseason squad the Chargers fielded.

"It doesn't make it any easier, you know," he said shaking his head.

The Chargers learned a few valuable lessons on Sunday. They realized that the depth they possess at several positions could be enough to overcome the injury bug. As they head into the playoffs, that is a big weight lifted from their shoulders.

They can now concentrate on playoff football and postseason success without worrying about whether their troops will be able to handle the load on an emergency basis.


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