Emotions are running rampant in Rivers' mind these days. He gets his first start as the starter, faces his childhood idol and must impress his teammates or fear the lingering doubts over the course of events that shaped the off-season.
The last time he was in a game came after Drew Brees went down to injury in the final week of the 2005 season. He wasn't happy with his performance at that time and is eager to get the bad taste it left out of his mouth.
He has had an off-season where the ball was planted firmly in his hands. He has been working with the first team offense pretty exclusively and understands its nuances. He has developed a sense of timing with his receiving corps and knows Antonio Gates will be highly visible underneath. But many of those players will be gone after the first series and the expectations remain – perform.
"He has performed exceptionally well thus far," said head coach Marty Schottenheimer. "He understands this offense completely. It is a matter of him working together with the other ten guys in the huddle. He understands what he is doing and why he is doing it."
LaDainian Tomlinson watches from the sidelines. The number one rushing defense in the NFL from 2005 does too. To complete the package, Rivers has to prove his worth. No more punching the bag. It is time to step into the ring.
Rivers says he is tired of seeing the same guys on a daily basis. If he underperforms, he may be tired of seeing the opponents' jerseys and will have to recoup. A winning performance, like the one he had in the Senior Bowl all those years ago and convinced the Chargers that he was the one, will be preferable.
Rivers, confident since the day he arrived, doesn't believe he has anything to prove.
"I want to play well but not to prove anything," he said. "I want to go out there and fundamentally play well techinique-wise and move up and down the field. Try and get in the end zone a couple of times."
He believes he has earned trust through the last several years and has the confidence of everyone in the huddle. The players know different. Confidence will be visible after a positive outing, even if it is just over a quarter of work.
One thing is certain, Rivers is glowing about being on the opposite sidelines from Brett Favre. He sees a lot of himself in the future Hall of Famer.
"He just has that ability to make plays," said Rivers. "Something breaks down and he doesn't look pretty but he finds a way. I feel like our games are tied, some similarities. He is way further down the line and where I hope to be."
I told him he could expect to play a half and he said, ‘Anything you want coach.' Of course, I was kidding. Half of the pregame warm-up. – Schottenheimer on if Tomlinson would see action in Saturday's game.