A whole new world

The Chargers are heading to Kansas City Sunday, dipping their toe back into the AFC West waters riding a two-game winning streak.

They are also toting along a new quarterback, one that continues to get better every week.

This week, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is the offensive player of the week after his stellar showing in the win over San Francisco. He threw for 334 yards and two touchdowns as the Chargers lifted their record to 4-1.

But he's never started in Kansas City before the rowdies that fill Arrowhead Stadium with a din not heard in many other places. Rivers, though, shrugs saying it's no big deal if you're prepared.

If nothing else, Rivers has proved he was prepared when opportunity came knocking. After two years of being Drew Brees' caddy, Rivers has grabbed the offensive wheel and the Chargers are humming along as one of the NFL's best teams.

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson is predicting even better things for the former North Carolina State star, who came to the Chargers via a trade in 2004.

"What he did against Pittsburgh and last week, I think that he has proved to himself that he can do it in this league and I can be just as good as any other quarterback in this league, even the top quarterbacks," Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson was always one of Brees' biggest boosters. The two knew each other from Texas high school football teams and they both arrived in 2001, eager to flip a franchise that had been woeful for so long.

So when the Chargers said so long to Brees in the offseason, letting him flee as a free agent to New Orleans, some wondered how Tomlinson would react.

Tomlinson, while hurt his buddy was moving on, has been behind Rivers 100 percent. And he's quick to tell everyone Rivers has been everything he had hoped for, and more.

"He's been growing; it wasn't just that he grew like overnight in our eyes," Tomlinson said. "He's been growing every week, gaining confidence. He is just now busting out to have people really aware of what he wants to do."

Rivers, who has the NFL's third-highest rating, faces a Chiefs defense that got pounded by Pittsburgh, 45-7, last week. Its pass rush hasn't been effective, and while the secondary isn't bad, Rivers could be in for another big day in the Midwest.

Tomlinson said Rivers always had the skills and the mind-set of a starter. But now that he has some solid performances under his belt, he'll continue to get better.

"I think as a quarterback I guess he started out the season where there were times where he hoped he would do well, that maybe some things happen to make you question yourself sometimes.

"But what Philip has done the last few weeks -- and even against Baltimore even through we didn't throw the ball a lot, he was still effective throwing the football -- his confidence has just been growing."

The Chargers' winning streak could grow to three. If so, it means another step for Rivers, who has taken very few in the wrong direction.


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