Lightning Quicks: Surpassing expectations?

The Chargers - Bengals game should be a terrific struggle between two legitimate playoff contenders. Cincinnati will look to get Chad Johnson untracked against Quentin Jammer and the second-ranked Chargers defense. Meanwhile, San Diego will look to pass on the Bengals, just as the Bengals passed on LaDainian Tomlinson in the 2001 draft.

Jammer to go old-school

During Quentin Jammer's first few years in the league, he was known for authoring few game-changing plays and for getting flagged frequently for pass interference. He has since overcome those issues (for the most part) and has played well as of late, but he recognizes that reverting to his old ways may be inevitable against the high-powered Bengals offense.

"We have physical corners – pass interference is going to happen," Jammer allowed.

He had better be careful not to turn that into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Chargers defense can hardly afford to give away easy yards with Shawne Merriman and Luis Castillo both set to miss the game.

Rivers takes it upon himself

Perhaps no player on the roster has exceeded expectations more than Philip Rivers. Going into the season, it was assumed he would be asked to do no more than manage the game and to avoid costly turnovers. Instead, he has quickly become one of the game's elite passers in just his first season at the helm, ranking in the top-five in terms of passer rating.

"Drew and Philip are different but are tough, smart, leaders, poised and that is what the good quarterbacks are," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said of his former and current quarterback.

Just as impressive is that Rivers continues to demand more of himself.

"I have a ways to go," he said humbly. "As we hit the stretch, I have to play well, as do all of us to keep our goals in reach."

Draft Day Connection

For the second week in a row, Tomlinson will play against a team that could have drafted him. The Bengals held the No. 4 pick in the 2001 draft, one spot ahead of the Chargers, and decided to go with defensive end Justin Smith instead of Tomlinson.

Smith is enjoying a career year and is on pace to finish the season with 13 sacks, but if Cincinnati had a chance to make that selection over again there is no way they would pass on Tomlinson.

Although he punished the Browns last week for passing on him on draft day, having a similarly successful outing in Cincinnati will be a far tougher challenge.

"I think they have a quality defense," Tomlinson said. "They do pressure you and cause a lot of turnovers. Last year they led the league in turnovers. They had a couple of tough breaks but are a tougher team than their record indicates."

If Tomlinson can continue his recent hot-streak, that Bengals record will only get worse.


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