Insult and Injury

The Chargers defenders don't like to make excuses, but they have some good ones to fall back on after giving up 296 rushing yards to Adrian Peterson. Shaun Phillips missed the game with a groin injury and Luis Castillo (ankle) and Quentin Jammer (hamstring) missed the second half, when Peterson did the bulk of his damage.

The injury to Luis Castillo is a huge blow to an already reeling defense. Castillo underwent surgery on Monday to repair a tendon in his right ankle and will be out for approximately six weeks. He hopes to return to face the Denver Broncos on Dec. 24, but if the Chargers fall out of playoff contention he may shut it down for the season.

Castillo is a pivotal two-way player. He plays with more power and leverage than the man who replaces him, Jacques Cesaire. Additionally, Castillo is the team's best pass-rushing defensive lineman.

"(Injuries) are always a part of it," Norv Turner said. "When we've had guys injured, we've had guys step in and play well. That's something that we're counting on."

Quentin Jammer is another key loss. He was missed against the Minnesota Vikings because of his ability to get off blocks and force running backs to cut their runs back inside. Had Jammer been on the field, Adrian Peterson's 46-yard touchdown run never would have happened.

Although the Chargers missed his run-stopping prowess last week, they will miss his coverage skills more if he can't go in week 10 against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.

As Drayton Florence proved by allowing a 40-yard touchdown to Sidney Rice and picking up yet another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, he is the worst starting cornerback in the NFL. The Chargers need a healthy Jammer to pair with Antonio Cromartie on Sunday.

"It will be very similar to last week, we'll see how he goes at the end of the week," said Turner of Jammer's status. "Obviously, when you have a reoccurrence it is more of a concern to me than it was a week ago."

Nick Hardwick, who missed Sunday's game much to the chagrin of LaDainian Tomlinson, will return to practice this week but won't return to the field until week 11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Chargers received some good news when they learned that Shaun Phillips and Craig Davis will return to face to Colts after sitting out last Sunday.

Phillips will reinvigorate a pass rush that netted just one sack against the Vikings. He will also help keep contain on the edge opposite Shawne Merriman, which should help slow Joseph Addai.

The return of Davis is far less significant. He was replaced against the Vikings by fellow rookie Legedu Naanee, who racked up more yards in the first quarter than Davis has totaled in any game this season. The Chargers could place Davis on the injured-reserve list today and it wouldn't affect the offense one bit.

To be fair, some rookies just take a year to develop. Just ask Cromartie.

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.

SD Super Chargers Top Stories