Chargers, Texans Fighting Fire Frenzy

Wildfires tearing across San Diego County displaced approximately two-thirds of the Chargers organization, including numerous players. While Chargers players fret over the safety of their expensive homes, the Houston Texans struggle to prepare for a game with no set time or venue.

LaDainian Tomlinson has been directly impacted by the wildfires, as his home lies in one of the evacuation areas. His house has not been hit by the surging flames, although unpredictable winds threaten to make that blessing a temporary one.

The reigning MVP is all too familiar with San Diego wildfires. He is one of a dozen or so players that was on the 2003 team that was forced to move a home game to Sun Devil Stadium due to the Cedar Creek fires. The Chargers lost that game to the Miami Dolphins, 26-10.

"Maybe it did affect us," said Tomlinson of the fire's affects on the 2003 game. "It reminds you of trying not to let it affect you this time. If it did affect us last time, we can say, ‘Hey guys, look what happened last time when we were thinking of all the things that happened and feeling sorry for ourselves.' We've still got to play the game."

Chargers players aren't the only ones dealing with the effects of the fire. Texans safety Will Demps has two homes in the area, one in mid-San Diego and one downtown. The former residence remains in jeopardy and is under the supervision of his family.

"It's getting close," Demps said. "The winds, you never know when it can change day to day, hour to hour, so you've got to keep on track with that."

Another Texans player with San Diego ties is CB Jamar Fletcher, who played with the Chargers in 2004-05. He also played with the Dolphins in 2003 and was a part of the transplant game at Sun Devil Stadium.

Fletcher finds it unbelievable that he is back in the same situation four years later.

"It's kind of crazy when I sat back and thought about it," Fletcher said. "Things happen and we just have to move on and play the game."

One person who may not play the game is WR Andre Johnson. He is held back not by the inflammation of a city, but by the inflammation of a knee injury that caused him to miss the last five games. Johnson worked out on a limited basis on Wednesday and remains a long shot to play in Sunday's game.

"My knee's feeling better," Johnson said. "It's just taking it day by day. I talked to the doctor, I think that was Sunday after the game, he said we could just push it harder and harder and just see how the knee reacts to it since I haven't been out on the field in a while."

The Chargers are hopeful that Johnson will hold off on his comeback until week nine, when he can return to torment the Oakland Raiders. A player with Johnson's freakish combination of size and speed would scorch the San Diego secondary worse than…well, you get the picture.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.

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