Both the Chargers and Rams had questions at quarterback coming into the season. Critics claimed that Philip Rivers lacked the experience necessary to excel and that Marc Bulger was an inconsistent passer whose statistics were bloated by Mike Martz's wide-open offense.
It turns out the critics were wrong on both counts. Each player has led his team to a very respectable 4-2 record. Also, both currently rank in the league's top six in terms of passer rating and have combined to throw 19 touchdowns against just four interceptions.
Rams defensive tackle La'Roi Glover has seen plenty of both quarterbacks and knows that Rivers is more than capable of holding his own.
"He seems like the kind of guy that can make every throw," said Glover of Rivers. "He's playing with a lot of confidence and he's got the weapons."
The Hands Team
McCardell is having a frustrating year in San Diego. After catching a career-high nine touchdowns in 2005, he has yet to reach the end zone this season. His reception total, however, continues to steadily climb. He and Bruce are jockeying for position on the league's career-receptions list. McCardell currently has 845 career catches; Bruce, at 840, is just five behind.
"I have always admired Isaac and Tory," coach Schottenheimer said. "They are terrific players. Keenan is in the same group of people. It is a testimony to their endurance and skill."
Draft Day Connection
The Chargers and Rams both went into this year's draft seeking cornerback help. When the Rams went on the clock, they had their choice of cover men, as no cornerbacks had yet been drafted. St. Louis decided to choose productivity over potential and selected Tye Hill, an all-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team choice as a senior at Clemson. The Chargers picked four spots later and drafted for potential, choosing the athletically spectacular Antonio Cromartie despite his lack of collegiate experience.
The jury is still out as to which team landed the superior player. So far this season, Hill has 17 tackles, one interception and one pass defense. Cromartie has made 10 tackles and broken up one pass, but has yet to snag his first career interception.
Rams coach Scott Linehan thinks both young corners will be busy on Sunday.
"Rookie corners get challenged," he said. "You're going to get challenged as a young corner until you prove that on a consistent basis it's not going to pay off."