Chargers' vets to light the way

The Chargers roster features 14 players who have played on teams that have gone to the playoffs and this week the team is leaning heavily on those players for advice as they embark on their attempt to run through the postseason.

"You become the product of your experiences," said Schottenheimer who has been to three AFC Championship games.

What that infers is the Chargers could sneak through the playoffs because they don't know any better. The players don't have much experience to draw on personally and the situations that present themselves this week will be unique, as will the energy of the game on Sunday.

By being slightly naïve about the magnitude of the games, the Chargers may have an advantage over a more playoff savvy New York team which has been to the postseason in three of the past four years.

The younger players will lean on those who have been to the dance before this week.

Doug Flutie, Jerry Wilson, Jamar Fletcher, Lorenzo Neal, Clinton Hart, David Binn, Randall Godfrey, Donnie Edwards, Bob Hallen, Roman Oben, Bobby Shaw, Keenan McCardell, Tim Dwight, and Jason Fisk round out the players with playoff experience.

Oben and McCardell have gone to and won the Super Bowl. When Oben arrived on the scene back in training camp, he was not wearing that ring and didn't think it wise to show it off. Now may be the time to whip it out and give the team an idea of what they are playing for.

The offensive tackle doesn't believe he needs to say much this week, however, and prefers to let each player make it his own game.

"I don't really think I have to give them any advice," said Oben. "All our guys have enough confidence to know what is at stake, to know what needs to be done.

"‘Hey, this week you have to do this.' I think what is going to happen is the only thing that is going to change is the National media that is going to come to the locker room."

Oben, always the scholar, made it sound so simple.

Drew Brees, a player that is new to the experience, agrees. He wants to go about his business with the same thought process that got him and the team to where it is at.

"Keep the same routine, the same attitude and obviously the same expectations," the Pro Bowl quarterback said. "This is why we worked so hard. It doesn't really matter what's happened in the past. We did all that to get to this point. This is why we play, right here. We play for the opportunity to win a championship. It's been trimmed down and now we played for keeps."

While some players prefer to be kept in the dark, there are others who will draw upon the years of success that their teammates have had.

The Chargers brought in a bunch of players this offseason that were not only high character guys but also had been with winning programs. It was a way to squeeze out the losing mentality the team has displayed over the years and their value continues to soar this week.

"The more guys you can have that have been there and done that the better," linebacker Ben Lever said. "This whole week they're going to be on us about what to expect. That's going to be great for us to sit there and help visualize as we go into the game."

Coach Schottenheimer agrees. He doesn't want to make his players think more than they have to with his one game at a time mantra and business as usual approach but he can't cast aside the benefit the veterans bring to the table.

"My expectation is we certainly have enough quality, veteran leadership here, with guys that have been in the playoffs, they'll understand," he said. "The tempo goes up. I don't think you can deny that. But it's really a matter of the process during the course of the week to make sure you cross all the t's and dot all the i's."

The difference is if the team fails to execute they go golfing. This isn't a time to take a play off, succumb to the numbness of injury or look ahead.

Everything is in the moment.

"Every play in a playoff game really counts...every single play, from the first snap to the last snap," wide receiver Keenan McCardell added. "The intensity will be a lot more than what the regular season is because it's do or die. Either you do and you keep going, or you die and you go home. That's just the way it is. What I mean by ‘every play counts' is you don't want to look back on a play in a playoff game and say, ‘Man, if we'd have just done such and such, that one play would've made the difference.' During the regular season, you can sit and say about 25 to 30 plays will decide a game. But in a playoff game, it's every play."


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