Chargers hooking up the pressure-cooker

Chargers fans remember their last encounter with new Raiders quarterback Aaron Brooks. It was in 2004, when Brooks led the Saints into San Diego. The play of the game came when the Chargers blitzed Brooks on a third-and-10.

He responded to the pressure by throwing a lateral to one of his offensive lineman, who dodged the throw, resulting in a 23-yard loss for New Orleans.

If the Chargers hope to see an equally inept Brooks on Monday night, they will have to pressure him as they did that comical afternoon two seasons ago. That mission is certainly doable despite the recent loss of Steve Foley, seeing as two years ago Shawne Merriman was playing at Maryland.

"Any quarterback – you get pressure on them and it is hard to throw the ball," Merriman said. "That is what we have to do this week."

Assuming Foley's place and applying pressure opposite Merriman will be Shaun Phillips, who was second on the team with seven sacks last season. Although he may not be as complete a player as Foley, he is every bit as capable of pressuring opposing passers.

He believes the Raiders will use a lot of max-protect schemes in order slow down a Chargers rush that generated the fifth-most sacks in the league a season ago.

"It is hard to get sacks that way when they are keeping seven, eight in," Phillips said. "It is a credit to our defensive line that we are getting pressure that teams respect us enough to double team us and a credit to our secondary for holding coverage."

Unless the Raiders keep 11 in to block, Randy Moss will heading downfield and finding a way to get open. The Chargers must counter any protection schemes thrown their way and make certain that Brooks does not have time to find his All-Pro receiver. The less pressure they generate, the more pressure they put on their secondary.

"When he gets the ball in his hands he is hard to catch because he can fly," said Coach Schottenheimer of Moss.

The Chargers plan to counter Moss' speed with some of their own.

"Speed kills," said Phillips, the fastest member of the defensive front seven. "Speed is everything. I have been blessed with speed and am going to use it to my advantage and make the most of it."

Making the pass rush all the more lethal is the development of two undrafted free agents who made the squad a year ago: Marques Harris and Derreck Robinson. Harris had two sacks during the preseason and appears to be an emerging force, and Robinson shows terrific quickness for a 289-lb. lineman.

For the Chargers, the season opener is all about pressure. They will either generate it, or succumb to it.

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