Charger Roundup

The Chargers have endured several injury scares in recent weeks but are in good shape heading into the season opener. Igor Olshansky and Matt Wilhelm returned to action during the preseason finale and Michael Turner should be practicing again by mid-week. Additionally, Eric Parker is ahead of schedule in his rehab, allowing him to avoid a trip to the PUP list.

NOTES, QUOTES

--DE Igor Olshansky (groin) started Thursday's preseason finale against San Francisco. Olshansky missed the previous game against the Arizona Cardinals because of an ailment suffered July 28, the first day of training camp.

"It held me back from practicing and playing in a couple preseason games, definitely," Olshansky said. "It's a pain injury, one of those things you would rather not go through but you do. So you just have to make the best of it and stay on top of your rehab and make sure you're healthy enough to be out there so you can last instead of just being out there and not really being productive and end up hurting yourself and taking a big step back."

--Some Chargers detractors point to the lack of a bona fide wide receiver as a clear-cut target. But Vincent Jackson, the top wideout, said that is far from the truth.

"There's no doubt in our minds and inside our building as far as that part of the game," Jackson said. "People are going to question it because you have standout players at just about every other offensive position. But we've got guys that can be consistent and make plays and do what we need to go down the field."

--As expected, RB LaDainian Tomlinson went through the preseason without a carry or even suiting up.

--RB Darren Sproles was once a longshot to make the team. He officially earned his place on Saturday, following an impressive summer that included two touchdowns.

"I would say Darren has a chance to help us win football games this year," coach Norv Turner said.

--CB Quentin Jammer, who had a team-high four interceptions last year, isn't worried about the defense's back end. It has looked mediocre during the preseason.

"That's because everything we play in the preseason is vanilla defense, it's basic defense," Jammer said.

"We haven't thrown anything in there that's real tricky. We're just in basic coverages."

--Pro Bowl K Nate Kaeding was pleased to kick at least one game-winner in the preseason. It came in Game 3 in Arizona.

"It's as much a mental game for me at this point as it is physical," he said.

"You have to really practice the mental side of preparing for a kick like that and just go out and knock it through."

BY THE NUMBERS: 13 -- Number of NFL records Tomlinson set last year in his MVP season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's good to get the bad apples out of the bucket now before we get the season going." -- SS Clinton Hart, on the secondary's numerous miscues during the preseason.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

ILB Matt Wilhelm started the preseason finale, which is good news for the Chargers. On a team with few questions, the jury is still out on Wilhelm and if he can replace Donnie Edwards.

Wilhelm hurt his calf early in camp and missed the first three preseason games. While he was out, Tim Dobbins, a second-year pro with a nasty streak, showed well. This guy can hit and get to the ball and his stock rose during the time Wilhelm was down.

There is also some concern with Michael Turner's sprained ankle, which kept him out of the final preseason game. That, though, worked in favor of Darren Sproles -- many thought he wouldn't make the team.

Sproles, honestly, made the team because of his dynamite potential returning kicks. But don't be surprised if offensive guru Norv Turner doesn't figure out some ways to get the shifty Sproles into the regular offense, especially on third downs.

PLAYER TO WATCH: ILB Stephen Cooper -- He figures to get plenty of attention when the Chargers' season starts. Cooper is an undrafted free agent out of Maine, entering his fifth season.

Cooper is being asked to stand out to rival running games, as much of the defensive flow is pointed in his direction. Cooper already has opened some eyes when he had 11 tackles in one half of a preseason game. But on a defense led by Pro Bowlers Shawne Merriman and Jamal Williams, it's hard for a guy like Cooper to snag a headline.

That might change as this unknown player has patiently waited his chance, been a stud on special teams and now is primed to make a name for himself.

DRAFT PICKS TO STICK:

Rd. 1/30, WR Craig Davis, LSU -- Looks to be the starter opposite Vincent Jackson. The Chargers hope he's the guy to stretch the field and gobble up yards after the catch.

Rd. 2/37, S Eric Weddle, Utah -- Pushed Clinton Hart for a starting job and just fell short. But he will see action in the dime package and special teams.

Rd.3/96, LB Anthony Waters, Clemson -- Team loves his potential, but has trouble avoiding knee injuries. Slated for special teams this year.

Rd. 4/129, TE Scott Chandler, Iowa -- Easily made the team, which is saying something on a squad loaded with top-notch tight ends.

Rd. 4/Sup, CB Paul Oliver, Georgia -- He fell behind after missing mini camps and offeseason coaching sessions; however, he steadily improved and came up with an interception and a sack in the preseason finale.

Rd. 5/172, FB/WR Legedu Naanee, Boise State -- Coach Norv Turner is lining this guy up all over the field. Team loves his versatility.

Rd. 7/240, ILB Brandon Siler, Florida -- Had a so-so start at camp then came on very strong. He clawed the final linebacker spot away from Nick Roach.


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