Injuries to play pivotal role on Sunday

Injuries could play as big a role in the matchup between the Chiefs and Chargers this week. Cornerbacks are banged up on one side and the interior of the defensive line on the other.

Chargers:

Just when the Chargers' struggling secondary took a step forward on Sunday in Philadelphia, it retreated one on Thursday.

Starting cornerback Drayton Florence didn't practice on Thursday or Friday after working on Wednesday. Florence, who is nursing sprained ankle, has missed the past two games.

Florence is listed as questionable, and he could still play Sunday. But it figures to be a long day for a secondary chasing the Chiefs passing attack, and that ankle might not hold up. He admitted on Friday that it is still ailing and he expected to be back next week.

The Chargers' secondary has been the team's weak link since opening day. But against the Eagles, the secondary held up fairly well under Donovan McNabb's 54 passing attempts.

It held McNabb to less than 300 passing yards and restricted him to one touchdown pass. That's hardly cause for a celebration, but it was an improvement for a pass defense that enters Sunday's game with the NFL's No. 29 ranking.

Come Sunday, it must harness QB Trent Green and a stable of receivers that includes RB Priest Holmes, TE Tony Gonzalez, WR Eddie Kennison and WR Dante Hall.

To do so, it will likely need Florence at close to full strength. If Florence can't go, he will be replaced by Sammy Davis. But Davis has some tender ribs, and his chances of holding up an entire game are suspect as well.

That would mean more of Jamar Fletcher who had a great game against Philadelphia, netting his first career sack and an interception.

Chiefs:

Kansas City's bid to at least contain San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson will take a hit if defensive tackle John Browning is unavailable for Sunday's game at Qualcomm Stadium.

Browning, an unheralded interior player who plugs gaps, occupies blockers and frees up linebackers, missed a third straight day of practice Thursday with a knee injury that could require arthroscopic surgery.

And though coach Dick Vermeil continues to hold out long-shot hopes that Browning might be available for a Friday practice, the Chiefs have completed their three main days of preparation - taking advantage of their moved-up game in Miami last week to work on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. Even if Browning worked Friday, it would be on a walkthrough basis.

"He's consistently been our most valuable defensive lineman since I've been here," Vermeil said. "When he's healthy, he plays his position extremely well, and he can play all four positions.

"I don't think he's ever received the kind of credit he deserves for being the kind of player he is because he hasn't been on an outstanding defense."

The Chiefs already have been playing without starting DT Ryan Sims, who went down with a major foot injury in the season opener and won't return until late in the season, if at all. The dearth of defensive linemen could force Kansas City to employ more of its occasionally used 3-4 defense, which might be more effective in dealing with Chargers TE Antonio Gates than in limiting the dangerous Tomlinson.


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