The Road Less Traveled

Much has been made of the Chargers' poor showing on the road, as their 1-4 record is a far cry from the 6-2 mark of last season. However, three of those losses came against elite teams. The New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars boast a combined record of 26-4.

The other road loss came at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings, when soon-to-be rookie of the year Adrian Peterson gained 253 yards in the second half against a defense missing Shaun Phillips, Luis Castillo and Quentin Jammer.

The Chargers need to do a better job with the fundamentals -- ball control, blocking and tackling -- but their poor road record should not be used to banish them to the drudges with the NFL's bottom feeders. The Chargers' performances have not been horrible; they simply lack the execution necessary to beat elite teams.

"I think we played well, but not well enough to win," Clinton Hart said. "We'll have to go back to the drawing board and get this thing fixed."

One flaw that appears to be diminishing is the erratic play of Philip Rivers. The second-year starter showed signs of snapping his sophomore slump, throwing for a season-high 309 yards and hitting seven different receivers. Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson, Craig Davis and Legedu Naanee all showed flashes, making it difficult to envision Eric Parker reentering the rotation next season.

Rivers' impressive passing numbers were dampened by a low completion percentage (55 percent) and two costly fourth-quarter interceptions. In fairness to Rivers, both picks came in obvious passing situations as the Chargers were scrapping for a comeback.

"When you ask a young quarterback like Philip Rivers to play from behind, he will throw more interceptions and take more chances," said NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci.

Rivers will have to be on his game again this week, as the Baltimore Ravens bring the league's third-ranked run defense to San Diego. Given that LaDainian Tomlinson has been held under 100 yards in four consecutive games, it is safe to assume that Norv Turner will not hammer away with the run against the Ravens' stout front.

Rivers only attempted 22 passes when the Chargers and Ravens met last season. He could very well double that number on Sunday.

Roster Moves

The Chargers placed backup linebacker and special-teams demon Carlos Polk on the injured-reserve list with a shoulder injury. Polk finished the season with 22 tackles, a sack and two forced fumbles.

Undrafted rookie Jyles Tucker has been elevated from the practice squad to take Polk's place. Insiders can check out the inside scoop on Tucker.

The Chargers also released DT Tim Sandidge from the practice squad. Sandidge was picked up just last week to lighten the practice workload of a banged up defensive line. The Chargers replaced Sandidge with Keith Jackson, a rookie defensive tackle from Arkansas. Jackson (6-foot-0, 315 lbs.) was a seventh-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2007.

Tucker's spot on the practice squad goes to OLB Terna Nande (6-foot-0, 230 lbs.), who was a fifth-round choice of the Tennessee Titans in 2006.

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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