Matthew Postins: If Brees were going to press, he would have done it by now, given the fact that he was without Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey for more than a month. Brees had been steady all season until last week's loss to Carolina, and I chalk up most of last week's game to two things -- a sub-par running game and a lack of chemistry with the already mentioned receivers. Brees will bounce back pretty easily this week, I think. I don't see him pressing just because it's the Chargers.
ML: How does the Saints' offense change with Reggie Bush out of the lineup? Is Deuce McAllister, who has averaged 10 carries per game, ready to carry the load?
RB Pierre Thomas
Rogelio V. Solis/AP
The fact is this offense revolves around Brees, so if they can just get McAllister into the 75-yard range on the ground, it'll help keep the Chargers' front seven honest. The Saints have been cautious with McAllister and so far he's had no swelling and no side effects from last year's knee surgeries. Considering the Saints are 3-4, they have no choice but to give McAllister a larger role and see what happens.
ML: Jeremy Shockey is the best tight end Brees has played with since Antonio Gates. What's the latest on Shockey's sports hernia? How do the Saints replace his production if he's out?
MP: Shockey was apparently none too pleased with how the Saints trainers treated his injury during his rehab, and it was hard to tell much from last week. Shockey did a split on first play of the game and seemed a bit reluctant to go full speed afterward. He still caught five passes for 50 yards. The Saints want him to be that over-the-middle option Brees has lacked for the past two years.
I don't see Shockey missing this game, but he didn't work out on Wednesday and the Saints are being cagey about his availability for Sunday. It will likely be a game-time decision. But the Saints won't lose too much production without him, as they did just fine during his absence.
ML: If the Saints don't select Robert Meachem in the first round in 2007, the Chargers likely grab him two spots later. Why has Meachem struggled in New Orleans and is he making any progress?
WR Robert Meachem
Rogelio V. Solis/AP
Meachem has the speed to stretch the field, but instead of stepping into the void left by the injury to Colston, he missed a golden opportunity. Lance Moore stepped in instead and when Colston returned Moore took the starting spot opposite Colston. The Saints aren't using Meachem enough, but put some of the blame on him. When the No. 1 receiver goes down and you only catch eight passes -- especially from a quarterback as prolific as Brees -- there's a problem, and it's not the game plan.
ML: How has the trade for Jonathan Vilma revitalized New Orleans' defensive front seven? How will he cause problems for a Chargers team struggling to get its running game on-track?
MP: I think the big thing with Vilma is his ability to track down plays from sideline to sideline. It's a factor that Mark Simoneau simply lacked last year, though Simoneau is a solid linebacker. Up until last week, the Saints had been stopping the run well, to the tune of No. 13 in the NFL. They do this with a rather basic scheme from defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs and because several players have stepped in due to injuries, including Brian Young and Antwan Lake.
The Saints are not terribly big up front, but they're just big enough and quick enough to stop running plays before they start. LaDainian Tomlinson could be in for a hard day, as this team has already handled Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, San Francisco's Frank Gore and Oakland's trio of backs without giving up 100 yards.
ML: What's the story with the Saints special teams? Who are the top players on those units? Which players will be charged with keeping Darren Sproles in check?
MP: All of them. That's how important limiting Sproles is to any team that plays the Chargers. The Saints have a new punter in Ben Graham, so it's impossible to know how good he is. PK Taylor Mehlhaff is in just his third game after the Saints released the inconsistent Martin Gramatica.
Moore will likely take over for Bush on punts and Pierre Thomas is the main kickoff returner. Thomas has nice burst and can take a hit. Moore has a 10.5-yard average but only has five returns. It's a mixed bag, and they'll miss Bush's ability to make game-changing plays.
Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of SaintsInsider.com. He can be heard every Friday between 3-4 p.m. on WNSP Sports Radio 105.5 FM in Mobile, Ala.