Shaun Phillips thinking Super

Usually, a good pass rush begets good pass coverage. Not so in San Diego. The Chargers finished with the NFL's fifth-worst pass defense despite generating the fifth-most sacks in the league. Shaun Phillips had seven of the team's 46 sacks, and is working diligently this offseason to improve his game, and by extension the team's pass defense.

"I've been doing a lot of lifting this offseason and just trying to get focused and get my mind right," said the 6-foot-3, 262 lb. linebacker. "I started doing some boxing, too, just to keep up with my cardio stuff. We finish our workouts so early in the day, and I needed to find a way to push myself in the evenings."

His incredible work ethic has been evident on the field. Phillips, 25, has totaled 60 tackles and 11 sacks during his first two years in the league. He also stepped into the starting line-up for a portion of last season when Steve Foley was sidelined with an abdominal injury. Foley is now healthy again, but Phillips still anticipates ample playing time.

"Steve Foley, Shawne Merriman and I are all great linebacker," Phillips said. "Steve plays on the weak side, Shawne plays strong side and I play both positions. The three of us are pretty much interchangeable, though, so even when I'm not starting I'll get my playing time. I'm one of the best, if not the best, pass-rushers on the team."

As a premiere pass-rusher, he has set his goals high for this season.

"I'd like to be able to get one sack a game, or at least double-digit sacks. But that's not just me; every defensive lineman would like to do that. It seems so easy, just one sack a game. But if you do that you get 16 sacks and a trip to the Pro Bowl. I'm not too worried about the numbers, though. I just want to take things one game at a time," he said.

One would assume that he adopted that attitude from Marty Schottenheimer, who is famous for his one-game-at-a-time mantra. However, Phillips took that mindset from someone else – Barry Bonds.

"When Barry was chasing the homerun record, everyone was asking him about his mindset, and he said he was taking everything one game at a time, one pitch at a time. That's how I try to think – one game at a time, one snap at a time," Phillips said.

Even though he will focus on one game at a time, there is only one game that epitomizes all of Phillips' professional aspirations – the Super Bowl.

"I think we can make a deep playoff run and win the Super Bowl this year," Phillips said. "You have to think like that every year. Aim for the stars."


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