LaDainian Tomlinson has yet to make an appearance this preseason, a trend that will continue on Monday. His backup, Darren Sproles, suffered a knee contusion last week, which could limit his playing time against the Seattle Seahawks.
Jacob Hester has proved to be a dynamite force on the field. He has a brutal and physical running style and, depending upon Sproles' game-day status, will be expected to carry a heavy load for the third consecutive game. In San Diego's first two preseason games, Hester has carried 25 times for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
FB Mike Tolbert, an undrafted free agent, has also made an impression on the field. He has enormous strength to hit his targets as a run-blocker and is extremely responsive as a receiver out of the backfield. Against the St. Louis Rams, he finished with six total touches for 28 yards.
Fellow rookie Marcus Thomas should see some carries once the first-team offense bows out midway through the third quarter.
QB Philip Rivers
After undergoing knee surgery in the off-season, QB Philip Rivers seems to fully have recovered after showing remarkable performances during training camp and demonstrating his strength and accuracy with each pass. He completed five of six passes for 54 yards in the preseason opener.
However, Rivers did not play in the Bolts' second exhibition game against the Rams as a precaution. He will be back on the field against the Seahawks and is expected to play into the second half. Seattle ranked fourth in the NFL last season with 45 sacks and will test Rivers' ability to move around in the pocket.
Billy Volek and Charlie Whitehurst should both see time in the second half. In the first two exhibition games, Whitehurst has passed for 107 yards versus Volek's 70, but Volek's completion percentage (63.6) outweighs Whitehurst's (52.4). Regardless of Whitehurst's sporadic accuracy, the Bolts might look to give him some more crunch-time experience late in the contest.
Starting wide receivers Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson should both be back on the field, although Jackson could sit as he works his way back from a hamstring injury. Regardless, second-team receivers Buster Davis and Legedu Naanee should expect the majority of the minutes, as Head Coach Norv Turner has made their development a top preseason priority.
When the Seahawks Run
RB Julius Jones is one of the Seahawks' new faces after coming over from Dallas. He finished his four-year Cowboys career with 3,484 rushing yards. Nevertheless, Maurice Morris is expected to share the starting role with Jones. Both Jones and Morris are versatile players who can run, block and catch passes out of the backfield.
FB Leonard Weaver has four years of experience under his belt and has proved to be a punishing blocker. His backup, David Kirtman, played in only six games last season and mostly on special teams. Road-grading rookie FB Owen Schmitt should also see ample minutes against the Chargers.
CB Antoine Cason
Veteran WR Bobby Engram has played in the League for 13 years and has proved he has a knack for finding holes in the opponent's secondary. However, the Engram-Matt Hasselbeck connection will be on hold this week. Engram is expected to miss 6-8 weeks with a cracked bone in his right shoulder, while Hasselbeck will miss the Chargers game with a tight back. Engram's running mate, Deion Branch, is still recovering from off-season knee injury and will be sidelined on Monday, as well.
With the two starting receivers out, Nate Burleson is the only wide-out on the roster with any real experience. Burleson was second on the team last season with 50 catches for 694 yards and led the team with 11 touchdowns. Also a key contributor on special teams, Burleson is the only player in NFL history to return three punts for touchdowns of 90-plus yards. WR Courtney Taylor is expected to start opposite Burleson, but only played in eight games last season and lacks the fluency of the other three.
Just for Kicks
Nate Kaeding ended last season on a high note, connecting on all four field goal attempts in the AFC Championship Game despite a broken plant leg. He appears to have picked up right where he left off, going three-for-three on field goals during the first two preseason games, even marking one of 53 yards in the preseason opener. He'll try to keep his perfect streak alive against the Seahawks, as the Chargers appear to have no intentions of giving rookie Billy Vinnedge any live-game action.