Game Scout: Chargers vs. Jets

Scout.com takes a comprehensive look at Monday's primetime matchup between the Chargers and Jets. Discover the keys to the game, the latest injury news, the scoop from inside both camp and much more.

KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 ET
GAMEDATE: 9/22/08
SURFACE: Grass
TV: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser)

SERIES: 31st meeting. Chargers lead series, 18-11-1, and won the last matchup in 2005 when the Chargers prevailed in the Meadowlands. But that was merely a game that brought with it a small dose of revenge with the Chargers still smarting from the previous meeting. That came in the 2004 playoffs when the heavily favored Chargers fell to the visiting Jets in overtime, 20-17. It was one of the most heartbreaking losses in the playoffs for the Chargers; the loss helped eventually get then-coach Marty Schottenheimer fired.

PREDICTION: Chargers 28-23


LB Shawne Merriman
Jeff Gross/Getty

KEYS TO THE GAME

Chargers: It can't all be attributed to the loss of OLB Shawne Merriman, but the Chargers' pass rush simply isn't getting the job done. San Diego has just two sacks and the secondary is paying the price, surrendering an AFC-high 293.5 passing yards per game. Given ample time, this could be the game QB Brett Favre gets in sync with WR Laveranues Coles, who will be in a big matchup against Chargers CB Quentin Jammer.

Jets: The Jets are allowing just 76.5 rushing yards per game with the addition of NT Kris Jenkins, and the Chargers don't know how many snaps RB LaDainian Tomlinson can go on his sore toe. So keeping pace in what should be a shootout falls on the right shoulder of QB Philip Rivers. Jets CB Darrelle Revis is one of the league's top young cover men, so Rivers will likely target impressive rookie Dwight Lowery and also look for TE Antonio Gates mismatched on any number of linebackers and safeties the Jets put on him.

KEY INJURIES

Chargers: C Nick Hardwick (foot) is likely out a few more weeks; LT Marcus McNeill (neck) could play for the first time this season.

Jets: CB Justin Miller (toe) might see his first action of the season; PK Mike Nugent (thigh) will be replaced by Jay Feely for at least one more game.

FAST FACTS: Favre is 5-0 with a career 103.5 passer rating against San Diego. ... Rivers is 15-2 with an 87.2 passer rating in his career as a starter at home.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Chargers:

-- DT Jamal Williams (knees), as is his custom, didn't work on Thursday on what is really a Wednesday in the Chargers' work week with a Monday night game. Williams will play Monday, but will be part of a rotation with Brandon McKinney and Ryon Bingham.


DT Jamal Williams
Donald Miralle/Getty

-- SS Clinton Hart (hand) has worked all week and is a go for Monday. Hart broke his hand in the Denver game and had it operated on last Monday.

-- CB Antonio Cromartie (hip) hasn't missed a practice this week, although it's worth watching him during the game. He had his worst game of his young career on Sunday.

-- C Nick Hardwick (foot) continues to work as he rebounds from offseason foot surgery. Hardwick could try to play next week.

-- LT Marcus McNeill (neck) is practicing with a large neck roll. McNeill has yet to play this season - that includes the preseason.

-- TE Antonio Gates (toe) is practicing and will go Monday. But he's still not 100 percent.

Jets:

--P Reggie Hodges, signed by the Jets to replace Ben Graham, can kick off or placekick in a pinch. The Jets hope to avoid another situation like the one on opening day, when they had to try a two-point conversion in the second quarter against Miami because Mike Nugent was unavailable with a strained right thigh.


LB Vernon Gholston
Dan Leberfeld/Jets Confidential

--LB Vernon Gholston is getting most of his work thus far on special teams, but had a defensive mistake against New England when he was whistled as the 12th man on the field for the Jets defense.

--DB David Barrett (shoulder) has been limited in practice, but is expected to play. A blitzing Barrett notched a half-sack against New England. He had never been credited with even part of a sack before in his nine-year NFL career.

--CB Justin Miller (toe) was limited in practice Thursday but is progressing well and could see action this week at San Diego.

--WR David Clowney (collarbone), out since after the second preseason game, still isn't that close to returning. As is his custom, coach Eric Mangini declined to give a timetable on Clowney's recovery. He would provide the Jets' WR corps with a much-needed speed element.

INSIDE THE CAMPS

Chargers:

LaDainian Tomlinson looked fast. He looked quick. He had the burst in that has made him one of the top running backs in NFL history.

But it all came after practice when he was joking with tight end Antonio Gates.


RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Matthew Stockman/Getty

Tomlinson, who was restricted to 10 carries in Sunday's loss to Denver, didn't practice on Wednesday as the Chargers continue preparations for Monday night's visit by New York Jets.

While his teammates were practicing, Tomlinson was holed up in the trainer's room as San Diego's most famous big toe got plenty of attention.

"It's getting better, so that's all I got," Tomlinson said. "It's getting better that's all I can say."

Tomlinson said the toe, which he hurt in the season-opening defeat, is being treated by ice, electronic stimulation among other things.

"A little bit of everything," Tomlinson said. "Pretty much throwing the whole kitchen sink at it."

Tomlinson is encouraged that the swelling has decreased as the week gets closer to game time.

"It's going down now; there was a little bit after Denver (game), but it is going down now."

Coach Norv Turner said having Tomlinson sit out isn't about the team being safe.

"Nothing to do with precaution," Turner said. "If he could run, L.T. would be out here running. Obviously, this is like a Wednesday of a normal game week, so we'll see where he is tomorrow and Friday."

Jets:

Kris Jenkins intensely dislikes flying, so he tries to make himself as comfortable as possible for an unnerving experience.

"I have a whole row," the Jets' 6-foot-4, 360-pound nose tackle said Thursday, looking forward to the Saturday flight to San Diego. "I'll pack light so I can just stretch out."

It's not surprising that whether he's in the air or on the ground, Kris Jenkins can take up plenty of space.


NT Kris Jenkins
Dan Leberfeld/Jets Confidential

Creating that kind of space shouldn't be quite as easy on the field, but in the Jets' first two games, Jenkins has turned aside blockers as easily as an unwanted pillow or the in-flight magazine.

Even New England coach Bill Belichick couldn't help but notice after Jenkins had three tackles for loss, including one sack, in the Patriots' 19-10 win on Sunday.

"I don't think you're going to see anybody knocking Kris Jenkins five yards off the ball every play," Belichick said Monday. "You just don't see that. We got him a few times and obviously he got us a few times."

Jenkins only had two tackles in the Jets' opening-day victory over Miami, but those numbers fail to measure the number of blockers he occupied at the point of attack, a key in shutting down a Miami running game that was limited to 49 yards.

San Diego likes to run the ball, whether it's LaDainian Tomlinson, currently slowed by a jammed right big toe that again prevented him from practicing Thursday, or backup Darren Sproles.

"I did get a sneak peak at LT at the Pro Bowl," Jenkins said, "so I know how fast he can hit holes. Watching Sproles, he kind of reminds me of (Dave) Meggett."

An old-school reference from someone who resembles an old-school 3-4 nose tackle, even though Jenkins had played in a 4-3 until this season.

"Kris is going to be disruptive in any system," coach Eric Mangini said. "He just is. He's playing with good technique and doing a good job reading the blocks, which makes it that much more challenging (for opposing offenses). The play last week, where they came in and tried to trap him, it was tough. ... They were coming in from the edge to try to get him. It's typically not a lot of movement (on Jenkins). We've tried it a couple of times during camp. Good luck. The guy who is trapping him, he's sitting there going, 'Why did they call this play?'"

At the line of scrimmage, Jenkins seems completely comfortable. But he can't take that feeling into the air.

"I'm scared of heights," he said. "I'm not meant to be up there. Got me in an aluminum tube, 35,000 feet in the air and you just want me to be content with it? No. There is no room for error on that thing. If that thing goes down, what are you going to say -- hit the emergency brake? You're in trouble. That's why I don't like it. I used to be claustrophobic as a kid but I kind of got over that."


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