Three-ring Circus

The T-shirt Philip Rivers wore to Wednesday's press conference sums up the hype surrounded the Chargers- Patriots game: "Circus Kircus." The Patriots sign-stealing scandal only fuels the fire of the NFL's hottest rivalry.

Last week, it was LaDainian Tomlinson's Nike commercial. This week, the frenzy stems from the New England Patriots employing shady methods in their win over the New York Jets. The Patriots were fined $250,000 and a first-round draft pick (or second- and third-round picks if they fail to make the playoffs) for illegally taping defensive signals. Coach Bill Belichick was fined an additional $500,000.

Belichick was frustrated with reporters during this week's question-and-answer session, as focus is falling away from the Chargers and onto the video scandal.

"Are there any questions about the Chargers? Do you want to talk about the football game?"

Norv Turner took the high road and refused to offer his opinion as to how the Patriots should be punished. Turner did not seem overly concerned with the whole ordeal and stressed that the Chargers will take the same precautions in keeping their signals safe as they do every week.

The scandal aside, week two cannot come soon enough. Just as the Patriots are sick and tired of being inundated with questions of Videogate, the Chargers have heard enough questions about last season's playoff meltdown.

Sunday's game is not going to make or break either team, as it is too early in the season for that. However, L.T. leaves no doubt that it will be a competitive match-up, while Philip Rivers thinks it is all in a week's work.

"Almost every week is a rivalry," Rivers said. "They are usually there late in the season, when we hope we are playing too."

Three-headed Monster

The Chicago Bears defense had one goal last week: stop L.T. However, the New England Patriots realize that there is more to San Diego's running game.

"It's not just him," Belichick said. "It's Michael Turner. It's Darren Sproles. They have a great running game and a good offensive line. (Tomlinson) is a very explosive guy, not just in the running game, but also as we saw and the Bears saw and everybody else has seen, screen passes, passes out of the backfield, so he's tough. He's a tough guy to stop. You just hope you can slow him down. He's tough."

Coach Turner's concern going into the game is that the Patriots offense appears to be in midseason form, and the veteran defensive players are not fooled very often. Coach Turner is also drawing up ways to slow Randy Moss, who stretches the field with the best of them.

Injury Update

Sproles was back at practice after suffering a concussion on the first return of Sunday's game...Antonio Gates, who was pivotal in that win, was out Wednesday (back), but participated in Thursday's practice...Shawne Merriman had a light practice Wednesday (Achilles), but saw full reps on Thursday.

Familiar Faces

--L.T. has yet to hear from former teammate Junior Seau, but what he has seen on film indicates that the 18-year veteran hasn't lost much. Tomlinson credits Seau for teaching him a strong work ethic and helping adjust to life in the NFL.

--Shaun Phillips and Nick Hardwick played college ball at Purdue with Patriots tackle Matt Light.

Lightning Quick: DT Louis Leonard has been signed off the Chargers practice squad by the St. Louis Rams. The Chargers signed TE Carlton Brewster to take his place. In 2006, Brewster signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent. He was later traded to the Green Bay Packers and was released on Aug. 25. He also spent time with the Berlin Thunder in NFL Europa.

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