No easy task ahead

The Chargers welcome the St. Louis Rams to San Diego on Sunday, looking forward to getting back on the football field.

Some of that motivation comes from wanting to wash away the bitter taste left from Sunday's heartbreak in the heartland. The Chargers rallied from a 20-3 deficit only to fall, 30-27, on a last- minute field goal by Lawrence Tynes.

But the Chargers are also anxious to get in between the lines for another reason. It's been a rocky week with the news that Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman tested positive for steroids.

That charge is under appeal, and Merriman won't know for certain if he has to miss four games until his appeal hearing on November 7.

Still, the focus this week has been about chemistry, and not the kind the Chargers brag about possessing in the locker room.

The Chargers can't go to sleep on the Rams, a game that those following the teams probably had circled when the schedule came out. The Rams were coming off a 6-10 mark and are breaking in a new head coach in Scott Linehan.

But the Rams have done something that should make them grow in the Chargers' eyes: beat the Denver Broncos. The Chargers trail the Broncos by one game in the AFC West, anxiously awaiting their two games with the defending divisional champions.

First, the Chargers will need to dispatch a well-rested Rams squad, which is coming off its bye and matches 4-2 records with the Chargers.

The Chargers need to concentrate on the task at hand, and not the troubles Merriman finds himself in. Or the injury to Shaun Phillips, which will put the team's third-string linebacker on the field in Marques Harris.

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson is confident the Chargers' mind-set won't waiver. Never mind the news of Merriman comes on the heels of linebacker Steve Foley being shot, of Foley and Phillips being arrested but not convinced in off-season tussles with law enforcement officers, of Terrence Kiel being arrested on five felony drug counts.

"It's not a distraction," Tomlinson said about the Merriman issue. "We talk about this every time an incident comes up; you guys always ask how much of a distract it is because it can be.

(But) I think we understand what it is all about. It is not a distraction because we don't allow it to be. We got professional guys on this team that understand what it is all about."

And that's to get to the playoffs and the Super Bowl.

"No one said it was going to be easy at the beginning of the year," Tomlinson said. "We knew it wasn't going to be peaches and cream. We didn't know who we would lose to injury or we didn't know what was going to happen. It's all the things you take into consideration. You have to be prepared for them and it's not something we are worried about. I think we are going to be just fine."

The Chargers are too tough, according to Tomlinson, to be knocked off track by an off-the-field incident.

"I think you guys forget this is a resilient team now and guys got a lot of pride," he stressed. "And we are going to continue to play well."


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