Several Chargers are benefiting greatly from having the bye week off, but the duo savoring the recovery time most is Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker. McCardell has fought through hamstring and calf injuries this season while Parker is still recovering from a sprained neck. Despite the perception that the receivers are an afterthought in the San Diego offense, both will be counted on heavily during the playoffs.
McCardell is a 15-year veteran with 861 catches, 11,117 yards and 62 touchdowns in has career. He has ample postseason experience, including two touchdown catches in Super Bowl XXXVII which helped Tampa Bay win the only league title in its history.
Parker has been in Cam Cameron's offense longer than any other receiver and is known for his precise routes and reliability. When Antonio Gates draws double-teams, Parker becomes the de facto go-to receiver on third downs.
"He is very talented and you know where he is going to be every time," said Philip Rivers of Parker. "He is so dependable."
Dancing Bear to Get Grizzly
As impressive as it was that the Chargers went 4-0 during Shawne Merriman's suspension, the even more admirable feat was going 6-0 while Castillo was out with an ankle injury. Castillo's importance to the defense cannot be understated. He is a disruptive force who spoils running plays in the backfield and harasses quarterbacks like a telemarketer at dinnertime.
Castillo finished with 37 tackles, seven sacks and an interception in his 10 games this season. Not only does he provide numbers, but he makes it easier for other players to accumulate numbers of their own. The extra blocks he occupies free up the linebackers behind him and his pass-rushing abilities take pressure off the secondary.
"His presence is a plus because he has such good skills to rush the passer," said Marty Schottenheimer of Castillo.
In the Flo'
Playoff games are typically tight-knit affairs. When two high-quality teams meet, one big play one way or the other can dictate the outcome. Although predicting which player will make such a play is like playing a game of roulette, it says here the smart money is on Blue 29.
Drayton Florence has not received nearly enough credit for the fine season he has authored. He has been clutch as well, clinching consecutive wins over the Broncos and Raiders with fourth-quarter interceptions.
"Every time I get an interception I want to house it," said Florence of his ongoing quest for his first career pick-six. "We've got to keep getting turnovers and making big plays."