Bolts Keep Busy on Bye

The bye week is a hectic time for the Chargers. Philip Rivers works to get on the same page as new receiver Chris Chambers and fill-in center Cory Withrow. Elsewhere, the defense sees its MVP rushing back from surgery to ready for week eight action.

Newly-acquired wide receiver Chris Chambers has a chance to get up to speed on the Chargers' offense during the team's bye week. Chambers was traded to the Chargers just before the trade deadline for a 2008 second-round pick.

Chambers figures to step in immediately as the Chargers' No. 1 wideout, starting alongside Vincent Jackson with under-producing and nicked up rookie Craig Davis sliding to No. 3.

While Chambers has never played for an NFL team besides the Dolphins, he should not have trouble adapting in San Diego. Chambers was having a fine season in his first year with coach Cam Cameron, who was San Diego's offensive coordinator before coming to Miami.

The Chargers kept the same system despite Cameron's departure, so Chambers' only challenge will be to quickly develop timing and chemistry with Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. With the bye week Rivers and Chambers will have ample time to get to know one another.

Center Nick Hardwick will have another week to rest his sprained foot which could cause him to miss a month.

Defensive tackle Jamal Williams had arthroscopic surgery on both knees to get him set for the second half.

"I think this is really going to help him be ready to play at the same level he's been playing over the next 10 weeks," coach Norv Turner said.

A case could be made that Williams, a Pro Bowler, is the most important cog on the defense. While linebackers Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips get most the headlines with their sacks, their work is set up by Williams.

With Williams manning the middle and keeping the blockers off the linebackers on running plays, that lets the Chargers win on the early downs. When that happens, teams are forced into obvious passing situations and that allows the pass-rushers -- Merriman, Phillips & Co. -- to tear after the quarterback with little regard for the running game.

Williams has been slowed by his tender knees the past two weeks, a span in which he seldom practiced but was able to get through the games.

There's a chance he might not be mended in time for the next game, which comes Oct. 28 against the visiting Texans. But knowing Williams' high tolerance for pain, look for him to be in the starting lineup.

Right guard Mike Goff also had thumb surgery, but he will be a go.

The biggest concern is the health of Hardwick as he handles the blocking assignments for what can be one of the most impressive running attacks in the NFL. The Chargers are somewhat confident that Hardwick's replacement, eight-year pro Cory Withrow, will be able to fill in with a degree of success in Hardwick's absence.


--QB Philip Rivers was asked to manage the game more than win it Sunday with LaDainian Tomlinson putting on a clinic. Rivers, though, made a bonehead decision by trying to throw across his body under duress and was intercepted by Thomas Howard and he returned it for a touchdown. Overall, Rivers was 14-of-21 for 156 yards and no touchdowns.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson showed why he's among the game's all-time best by rushing for 198 yards and four touchdowns. Tomlinson was sensational in exploiting the slightest opening as he burst through holes with his uncanny quickness and changed direction with ease, which often had the Raiders defenders grasping for air. Tomlinson also added 16 yards through the air.

--TE Antonio Gates had only three catches but he still led the Chargers with 58 receiving yards. His numbers continue to resemble those usually turned in by a wide receiver instead of a tight end. Consider that his average was 19.3 yards per catch and he had a long of 28.

--WR Vincent Jackson continues to be inconsistent, having trouble stringing together consecutive games with a lot of productivity.

--WR Craig Davis was on his way to a good game with two catches for 30 yards. But he aggravated an ankle injury and that was it for him. The bye comes at a good time -- it's also a good time to shed his image of not playing through bumps and bruises, a reputation which followed him from LSU to the NFL.

--RB Michael Turner didn't get much chance to do his thing with Tomlinson tearing through the Raiders' defense. One week after his best pro game, Turner had but eight yards on five carries.

--CB Antonio Cromartie, the team's top pick last year, finally showed his skills when collecting his first interception. Cromartie still has to work on the physical part of his position, but his cover skills continue to grow.

--OLB Shaun Phillips had his best game of the season with a game-high nine tackles and two sacks. Phillips' burst off the line of scrimmage is something special.

--OLB Shawne Merriman was the benefactor of Phillips' big day as the Raiders were challenged to give both of them the attention they needed. Merriman had 2.5 sacks after collecting but three in the opening five games.

--CB Quentin Jammer saved a touchdown right before the half with his tackle at the 1 and the Raiders ended up squandering a chance to score when Merriman and Phillips sacked Daunte Culpepper and Phillips forced a fumble.

--ILB Matt Wilhelm has seemed to have given the run defense a boost the last two weeks after he returned from a calf injury. Wilhelm had four tackles as the Chargers squashed what was before the game the NFL's leading running team.

--DT Jamal Williams was rotated in and out more than usual as the Chargers tried to get him to the bye week so he could have minor operations of both knees. Williams did have two tackles and a key fumble recovery.

--ILB Stephen Cooper continues to shine in his first year as a starter. The steady Cooper had seven tackles for the Chargers.

--WR Malcom Floyd managed but two catches for 25 yards. But that was nearly half of the number of catches turned in by the Chargers wide outs.

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