Chargers Stars Sound Off on Indianapolis

The San Diego Chargers are talking about this weekend's showdown with the Colts. Norv Turner details his infatuation with the reverse; LaDainian Tomlinson updates his injury status; and Stephen Cooper explains why the Indy offense is not all that sophisticated.

Head Coach Norv Turner

Opening Statement:

"I'll give you the injury update the best I can. It's obviously early. Luis Castillo had a slightly strained groin. He's doing alright today and it is a shorter week. It'll be day to day with him but we would anticipate he'd be ready for the game. Malcom Floyd is making great progress. Antonio Gates has an ankle sprain. The results came back. It looks good. He was in getting it treated and it sounds good in terms of being ready to go. Shaun Phillips has a little bit of a strain in his knee but he's going to be fine. Brandon Siler was not active last week (foot) but had a great workout before the game. He should be alright. LT (LaDainian Tomlinson) has a strained groin and that will be the thing you guys ask me about most I'm sure each day. I just talked to him. He's a little sore, but again they expect him as the week goes on to get better and be able to practice and be ready to play. We'll keep a close watch on that.

"Obviously from the standpoint of the way we performed, I said it last night and I'll say it again: I can't be happier with the way our defense performed. That's an explosive offensive football team and you know they're going to get yards, you know they're going to make plays. But we limited the big plays and we made big plays when we had to. We created turnovers. The interception by Paul Oliver at the end of the half was a real big play in the game. I thought even though we didn't get sacks we got pressure and we kept (Jay) Cutler moving around.

"We've got to the point where we want to be, offensively, at least for this game and the Tampa game where we've gotten the balance we strive for. Obviously when you run the ball the way we did last night, it helps everything. I thought the big plays in the passing game helped us early to loosen them up, get them into some coverage looks that helped our run. Then it's obviously the best performance our offensive line has had."

To what do you attribute the play of the offensive line's play last night?

"I think a couple things. It's funny, when we got going last week looking at Denver we put Week 2 on and, with no disrespect because they're good players, but L.J. Shelton was playing left tackle and Jeremy Newberry was playing center. It wasn't for a couple more weeks after that that we got Marcus (McNeill) back and we got Nick (Hardwick) back. I thought Jeremy did a good job and I thought L.J. did a good job, but you're sitting there putting pieces together and guys who haven't worked together and the continuity is a big part of it. We moved the ball and had a lot of yards in that game, but we got Marcus back and we got Nick back and I'm not sure they were totally back like they are now from a health standpoint. I think it took some time. Then obviously it was like we were starting over. I don't think it was ever as bad as perceived. We went a stretch of games where we played Buffalo and we only had 50 offensive snaps. You can't really get yourself going in that environment. We had a tough time getting teams off the field early. There are a lot of reasons. Obviously we have momentum now. We're playing with great confidence and starting really in the Raider game, we've got the run going and we're throwing the ball and executing the pass offense extremely well all year so it's good timing. I don't know if I can give you an exact reason why."

Is this year's entrance into the playoffs more rewarding for you because of the late surge it took to get you there?

"To be in a game like this, obviously we talked about it as a team, we started the playoffs a week earlier because it's a win or go home. But to make the playoffs is the big deal. To win your division is a big deal. I know what the skeptics say in terms of the record but I think every division is different and every division has to handle the situation, the schedule, who you're playing, where you're playing, the circumstances involved and we were able to do that."

Now that you're second in the NFL in scoring, do you have anything to say to those who said you were predictable?

"I think if you're not predictable a little bit then you don't have anything you believe in, that you hang your hat on. We've got some guys, some of our offensive linemen would like me to be a little more predictable and run about two runs. We fight with that. When you're playing good and you're having success it looks like you're not predictable. When you're struggling and you're playing a team that particularly defenses the run well, you can look predictable."

What made you fall in love with the reverse?

"I'm a big reverse guy. The best reverses that we have, that I've been involved with through the years - they used to complain in a couple places that I've coached that we ran too many reverses - but they involve the quarterback as a lead blocker. One thing that's kind of got lost in what's happened because Philip has played so well, what's got lost is last March we're sitting here wondering if he's going to be ready for training camp, if he's going to be ready for the season. What he's done is remarkable in terms of his recovery from the surgery and then his performance. I chose early in the year to not run any of those reverses where he's the lead blocker. I did mention to him early in the week when we put these two in that he didn't have to run down the field; just make sure we get around the edge. Someone has to protect it. If a defender runs up the field, you don't want that ball being pitched up to a guy in the other color jersey. That's all we wanted him to do. When he saw that field out in front of Vincent I think he wanted to help him in the end zone."

What did you think when you saw him out in front?

"He's a football player and he knows how to take care of himself. He did a good job of faking the block and getting out of the way."


HC Norv Turner
Donald Miralle/Getty

How satisfying to know that your team is playing so well at such an important time?

"It's critical that you keep improving. I said this, and it's hard to say it when you lose close games like we did. We lost a one-point game at Pittsburgh. There are some other people who have lost close games, very low-scoring games there. Some pretty good teams have. We lost a three-point game to Indy. They're the hottest team in football right now. They've won nine straight. I said after the game, it was a lot like our playoff game back there except they won it and we didn't. When you're losing close games or you're not winning and you talk about players improving, I'm not sure you guys buy it but I see it and I saw it. Paul Oliver is a great example. There are a bunch of guys. Stephen Cooper, we assume that he was just plugged back in and was ready to go. He's improved a great deal. He's playing his best football of his career. You see it happening, then you need it to show up in wins. That's what it's done over the last month, but we have a lot of players I think that are playing their best football of their career. That's important. It's obviously what we shoot for in terms of going. We're getting ready to play a team that has a lot of guys that are playing their best football of their career or the best football they've played this year."

Re: the Chargers' play in the month of December:

"We're a very talented team. I think guys as the season goes on, you do get better. We're a very young team, a lot younger than people realize. That's the way you improve. I think there's a great sense of urgency in December. I think there is every week, but you start zeroing in and saying, ‘Hey, if we can get this done we can achieve these goals. I know it was a big part of last year and certainly was for different reasons this month."

Is it common for teams to get hot early and flame out in December when they don't have anything left?

"I don't know. There are so many things that are involved and one of the things people forget about it schedule. A team can have a stretch where they're playing teams that maybe are struggling or aren't as good and they win three or four in a row and everybody jumps on the bandwagon. Maybe they aren't as good as everyone is proclaiming and it looks like they burn out in the end. Then obviously the injury factor. You can get going pretty good and then suffer some injuries and it takes a toll."

What are your thoughts on playing the Colts?

"We're excited to win the division and are real excited to be playing at home. We know the Colts. I think they played well against us in the game six weeks ago. I think they're playing a lot better right now. Most people in the league would say that Peyton Manning should be the MVP and he certainly had an MVP year. They're healthier on defense than they were when we played them and (Bob) Sanders is back. I was watching a little bit of one of the NFL shows and Coach Madden was talking about being in the playoffs. He said, ‘You're in the playoffs. You know you're going to play good teams. You're going to play the best teams. That's what you expect.' You have to go out and perform at your best, at the highest level."

What do you say to people who don't think an 8-8 team deserves to be in the playoffs?

"The league addressed that last year and we met on it at the league meetings in March and talked a great deal about it. It was voted on I believe. It was voted to keep the system. I believe the thinking was there's a reason you have divisions and a team should be rewarded for winning their division. That's the way the scheduling is and obviously we've played the NFC South and the AFC East. That makes our schedule unique to what someone else had or what the Wild Card teams with a better record might have. Everyone's circumstances are different. When you start getting into records, I think that can be misleading. I hope it's an accurate look at what we are because when we played Indianapolis it was a three-point game. They played one schedule, we've played another. We won our division and we're at home."

Teams that make the playoffs at 8-8 haven't historically done well. Why can you buck that trend?

"I don't know that we can, but the thing that gives us hope is we've been there. This group has been in the playoffs. They've had success in the playoffs. They've had heartbreak in the playoffs. We're a talented team. We are playing our best. I think we've improved greatly on defense. We've played great special teams all year. We're more balanced on offense than we've been. We know it's a real challenge but our guys look forward to getting ready for that challenge."

Do the unusual things such as the close losses, the blackout in Buffalo and the trip to London also give you confidence that your team can persevere?

"The thing that helps us is that we keep getting further and further away from all that. The four out of five weeks on the road and the trip to London was demanding on our guys. I think if we'd won a couple of those close games it would have been a little less demanding but we didn't. Obviously it's great that we were able to overcome the whole that we dug."

Some players have praised your consistent approach. Is that something that's important to you, that they know what they're getting out of you all the time?

"Every week is a new week so you have to continue to prepare and you have to start over every week. It's a new game plan, it's a new team you're playing, it's a new week of preparation and this year every week has been a little different because our schedule has been different. Whether you're playing Sunday night, whether you're playing Monday night, whether you're playing Thursday night, whether you're playing in London . I think you take the things from your background in terms of how you approach things. Our approach and our schedule is very much like we did with John Robinson the years I was with him, very much the schedule we used when I was with Jimmy Johnson and it works. It gets your guys ready and I don't believe it wears your guys out. You're going to go through ups and downs through the season and I believe you need to be consistent to a point. Then you need to address things when they come up, when you have to address them and I believe we've done that."

If the goal is to be playing your best in December, is there a price you pay early in the year?

"I don't believe so. That's the disappointing thing. Last year we dug a hole and there were different reasons. This year we let two games get away. Our first two games, we let them get away from us. We've got two seconds left in the Carolina game and they make a great play but we didn't play the defense very well. Then we were in Denver and we know what happened there. I believe the two wins would have helped us but the mindset was there. You get a mindset and you have to overcome it. We know what the deal is. We played better in some games than it looked and we weren't able to win close games."

In your mind was there a turning point?

"It's got to be the way we played against Oakland and that we came out in three days and it was obvious we were the team that had done the best job of preparing in three days. There were little turning points all along the way for me. When we went to Pittsburgh and it was disappointing to lose that game but to go into Pittsburgh and play them the way we did, we didn't do some things as well as I'd like, but to have a chance to win that game against a real good team, it said a lot about our team and it told me that we weren't as far away as maybe it appeared."

Running Back LaDainian Tomlinson

How are you feeling?

"A little sore today, but that was expected after a groin injury because it's always worse the day after."

Will it slow you down for this weekend?

"No, I don't think I'll be 100 percent but we'll see what happens day-to-day, see how it goes and see what happens on Saturday."

Are you surprised at how much you've run the ball these last two weeks?

"I think the game plan played out like that. We were able to keep the ball a little bit longer. When you're able to keep the ball a little bit longer, you're able to run the football a little bit more, control the clock. The past two weeks we've really wanted to keep their offense off the field, Tampa and Denver , so a lot of times it's not really about scoring fast. You want to control the clock and grind out first downs. The run game definitely helps you do that."

What's the difference in your offensive line?

"I think they're just getting the opportunity to get in the groove. If you look at our games, we're getting back to doing the teams that we've done when we've been good at running the football. The power runs, the counter runs, things like that have been a staple of our offense for a long time. We've gotten back to doing that and the offensive line likes to block those plays. I think that's the key."


RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Harry How/Getty

What's the difference between when the offensive line is really on and when they're trying to find their way?

"The run game, most of the time it gets more successful as the game goes on. They get to wear on guys. The double teams start to blow those defensive tackles out of there and they get to the linebackers. The more you do it, the better it gets because the defense just gets tired of getting double teamed and gets tired of getting hit by offensive linemen. I think that's the key to a good offensive line and a good running game is when that happens. When it doesn't, it's usually because you just really don't get the opportunities as much and sometimes you don't get to call the right runs that you want to call."

John Madden said that you finished your runs more than you had previously. Do you agree with that?

"No, I don't really agree with it. I don't think Madden has watched all of our games but everyone has their own opinions. I guess you look at one run down there on the goal line and say, ‘He finished his run more than he has all year.'"

I think he meant it as a reflection of your health, that you are healthier than maybe you have admitted.

"If you go back to that Oakland and I was saying I was getting healthy at that point, I thought that was one of the…all season, I think I finished runs as good as I did all year that game against Oakland. I guess you could make that case, but sometimes when you are injured and hurt and you can't make a lot of cuts then that's all you do have, try to run tough and try to finish runs."

How much does a groin injury affect a running back?

"A bunch of it. It affects a great deal, especially a running back that likes to do what I do, a lot of cutting and stuff. It definitely affects you."

You have the look of a guy who can't believe he got hurt a week before a playoff game. Is that how you feel?

"No, I think you're just reading a little bit into it. It's a business mindset. It's a new season and we've got a tough game this week and we're playing Saturday. We've got to be ready to play."

What do you know about Indy's defense?

"I know they're a team that relies on their quickness and speed. Obviously Bob Sanders leads that group as far as the physical aspect and getting those guys ready to go. I think they cause a lot of turnovers because of their speed and a lot of the stuff that they do and force you into making turnovers. That's one thing that we don't want to do is turn the ball over and give that offense with Peyton Manning a short field or an easy score."

How did you feel about the way the offense and defense fed off of each other the last few months?

"I think it helps when the defense is able to rest and stay off the field because when they do go on the field they have a lot more energy to rush the passer and to cover people and do the things you have to do to play good defense. I think it goes hand in hand with a good defense, us keeping them off the field, keeping their defense on the field. If you look at it, what it does to the offense on the other team, they can't get in a groove. That happened to us a couple times where a team would keep the ball, keep our defense on the field and you saw us offensively struggle a little bit because we couldn't quite get in the groove. I think that's what you're seeing, a team that's refreshed on defense and playing like it."

Is it hard to believe you're 8-8 and hosting a playoff game?

"It's not ideal but we'll take it. It's a pretty strange season, isn't it? But it's good to be in this position, no doubt. To say that you're division champs and to be going to the playoffs and hosting a playoff game, that's a great feeling for us."

What makes you guys think as an 8-8 team that you can have success in the postseason?

"One, we're playing at home. I don't know what the record is over the last few years of us playing at home but I'm pretty sure it's pretty good. That's something that's in our favor. Two, I think the type of guys we have on this team and the way we've been playing the last month. We've been playing really good football, so I think that helps us going into this game."

How much does last year's playoff run help this year?

"I don't know how much it will really help. I think in terms of experience, saying ‘We've been here before and we know what to expect going on the road and playing three playoff games,' I think from an experience standpoint that helps you but I don't think it gives you a certain advantage at all, especially when you're talking about the Indianapolis Colts who have been in the playoff every year since probably I've been in the league. That's definitely a challenge."


RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Jeff Gross/Getty

Is there less pressure on you than there was at 14-2?

"No, it's still the same because being in the playoffs and being the team that we are, the talent that we have, it's still the same. It's not like, ‘They're 8-8. We don't expect them to do good at all.' You hear people saying, ‘Watch out for this Chargers team. You don't want to play this team.' That's what people are saying. That's what we're hearing. You can't really say that people don't really expect us to do well."

Is this the most rewarding playoff experience for you, considering what the team went through to get here?

"I would say so. There was a point there where you were really starting to wonder if you were going to get in because Denver just had to win one game. Every week you were hoping. ‘Man I hope they don't win. I hope they don't win.' When it came down to this last game of us playing Denver, at that point we felt like we were going to get in. I don't think there was any doubt in our mind that we would win that game last night."

Did it feel like you were playing with "house money" then?

"It does kind of feel like that but at the same time you throw your chips all in and you say, ‘What do I have to lose? It's not my money.'"

Do you still have that same attitude?

"No, this is different. When you lose you go home. It still hurts. It really doesn't matter about playing with your own money or not. It's like if someone gave you $10,000 and they said, ‘You can go play with it or you can keep it.' You decide, ‘I'm going to play with it.' Even though it wasn't your money you throw it in and lose it, it still hurts. That's how I look at it."

Do you think this team is hitting its stride?

"Yeah, I think so. I think over the last two weeks we have played great football, as good as we've played the last two years. I was sitting there thinking about it last night. Scoring 41 points in Tampa and then turning around and scoring 52, that's pretty good for the National Football League. This is not college, now. You're Oklahoma scoring 60 points the last five games, but it's pretty good to be in the NFL."

Would you compare Sanders to Troy Polamalu?

"I guess I would. The only thing, I would say they are the same type of player, they roam around a lot. I would say Bob is maybe in the box a little bit more than Troy would be. Troy sometimes stays deep. I don't know many times that Bob does that. Bob is around the line of scrimmage a lot of the time."

What are your thoughts about the Colts as a first-round opponent?

"Tough. You talk about a team that people don't want to play, this has to be one of those teams. They've been playing great football. Even though you think about yesterday some of the Tennessee guys didn't play but they didn't score. Peyton Manning only played one series and then came out of the game but they still put up what, 23? This is a tough team to have to play in the first round and they're good on the road. They play good football on the road. They went to Pittsburgh and beat them on the road. It's going to be tough."

Is Peyton the MVP of the league?

"Yeah, I would say he's the MVP. No question."

Does it give you confidence that you guys hung with the Colts at a time when you weren't playing so well?

"We have confidence anyway just because we match up well against them. We know if we play our best game it can go either way, that we can beat them. If we don't then they can beat us. We have a lot of respect for those guys. We've played them a bunch over the last few years. It helps to know them, but at the same time we have to play our best football."

What did you think of Philip's lead block on the reverse?

"All week we did that play and Philip was out there. We joked with him that that might be the block to spring Vincent. He came back and said, ‘Dang! I missed him!' I was thinking to myself, ‘Are you surprised?' (laughing)"

Linebacker Stephen Cooper

At any point last night did you think ‘How in the world did we pull this off?'

"No. Everybody put us there in the beginning of the season; they thought we were going to win the AFC West. It took us a long road to get there but we got it done."

Have you guy's kind of felt like you've been playing with house money over the last couple of weeks, like there's no pressure?

"That's what we've been talking about over the last four weeks, the fact that there is no pressure. We know we're a great team and we knew what we were capable of doing. It was just going out there and getting it done. Earlier in the season we weren't playing Charger football. We weren't getting to the quarterback, we were able to put points on the board but the defense wasn't able to stop anybody. It's about time we did that and it's showing towards the end of the season."

Was there pressure that you put on yourselves in the earlier part of the season?

"I think so. I think everybody was talking about a Super Bowl before we even played our first game. I think guys were looking forward instead of taking care of week one, week two, week three, week four and building up to that. We were 4-8 at one point but now we're 8-8, AFC West Champs."


LB Stephen Cooper
Al Messerschmidt/Getty

Is anybody talking about the Super Bowl now?

"No, we're talking about Indianapolis . We have one the best quarterbacks in the league coming into San Diego and we have to be on our P's and Q's because if not, he's going to put up a lot of points."

What changed on defense and why?

"I think Ron Rivera. He made it real simple for us on defense to go out there and play football. We're getting to the quarterback a lot now, we're not winning by audibling out defenses when we're on the field; it's just go out there and play whatever calls are made."

Even last night you weren't totally satisfied with how your defense played. Now that you've had some time to absorb it, what specifically didn't you like about it last night?

"We didn't tackle well. Letting them run the ball the way they did on us, that's not us. For us not to get after the quarterback like we've done in previous weeks, that was bad and it just showed. The quarterback and wide receivers weren't on their game yesterday and they had a lot of drops and it just showed. As a defense we can't do that, we have to play coverage and get to the quarterback and do our job."

Do you have any theories on why December is such a big month for you guys?

"It's crunch time. The play-offs are getting closer and closer and when you get into December you have to be playing your best football because if your not it's going to carry over into the play-offs and you're going to go home early so as long as we're peaking now, I think we'll be fine."

What do you think you did well last night since you didn't get a lot of pressure on the quarterback and didn't tackle well?

"We got turnovers when we needed them. Our offense was playing at a high level last night and whenever they had an opportunity to put a ball in their hands they were going to put up points so we just wanted to make sure we could get off the field and get them the ball in the best position possible."

Aren't you ok with that? In 2006 and 2007 you gave up a lot of yards but made turnovers or big sacks when you needed to so aren't you ok with that?

"Yeah it's fine. We don't want to give up a lot of yards but at the end of the day if we can get turnovers and put the ball in Philip Rivers hands we know he's going to do a great job with it. As long as we keep doing that we'll be alright."

The way Indianapolis beat you last game, are you as a team looking forward to getting a shot at them?

"We're just glad to be in the play-offs and be competing for a Super Bowl. It's a big task, we've got Indianapolis coming in here, but we just have to play our style of game and that's physical. We have to make sure we're getting to the quarterback, I think we'll have to establish the run really early and now we have to dictate what's going on in that game so as long as we're doing that I think we'll be alright."

You've played this team so much; is there a difference between the regular season Colts and the post-season Colts?

"No, they follow pretty much the same game plan. Peyton is going to be back there checking out a lot of calls if he sees certain defenses and we have to make sure we put ourselves in a great defense so we can prevent them from scoring."

How do you read all that stuff that Manning is doing back there?

"A lot of it is if you can pay attention to his checks. I try to do that at the line of scrimmage so I can pick up on those so I can relay them to my teammates. A lot of it is also formation recognition. We try to get good pre-snap reads and try to get guys in a good position to make plays."

You can interpret a lot of the things he's doing?

"Yeah, we've played against them I don't know how many times over the last three or four years and I'm real familiar with the offense. (John) Pagano and Ron Rivera do a great job of preparing us during the week and as long as we're doing what the coaches say, I think we'll be alright."

Do you consider their offense a little more complex than ordinary?

"Yes and no. It's just the caliber of guys they have. They have a great tight end, they have great wide-outs and they have a great quarterback and a great running game. We have to make sure we're doing our job from top to bottom because if not they could gash us with a run, Peyton could throw the ball up deep to Reggie Wayne, and if we're not doing our job it's going to be a rough day for us."

So it's not more sophisticated?

"No, not at all. It's Peyton going back there, setting his feet and throwing the ball, and whenever you let Peyton sit back there and set his feet, he's going to kill you. So we have to make sure we get guys in his face and get him moving around the pocket, because he doesn't like to do that."

Is it almost like it's a mental chess match between you and Peyton?

"That's how it is every time I have to play against that guy. I take a lot of pride in this type of game because it comes down to who's studying more, who's in the class room or watching more film and putting their teammates in the best position to make plays. When I'm out there and he's checking out plays and guys' emotion and audibling out I try to make sure I put us in a great defense and Ron Rivera puts me in a great position to do that."


LB Stephen Cooper
Rick Stewart/Getty

Do you do more film work in a Colts week than you do in another week?

"No, I get with John Pagano a lot and try to sit down with him and go over what's going on in formations, what Peyton likes to do in certain situations down to distance and just make sure I'm on top of my game like that."

Teams that are 8-8 and have gone to the play-offs historically have not done so well. Why is this team different?

"Being 8-8 doesn't matter. All we wanted to do was make sure we had an opportunity to win the AFC West and make it to the play-offs. You can be 8-8 or 14-2 and it doesn't matter because when you get to the play-offs you're 0-0. You're starting fresh and whoever wins go on and we'll see what happens."

Don't you think those other 8-8 teams have said the same thing?

"Oh they're saying the same things, but there have been teams that have been 11-5 and haven't made the play-offs. Records don't mean anything, it's all about who's playing the best football at the end of the year and getting to the play-offs."

How about 8-8 and getting a home game?

"Hey that's great. We always try to go out and win the AFC West every year and it's always a rumble between us and Denver but at the end of the day we're going to go out there and get the job done."

Obviously you didn't think 8-8 would win the AFC West at the beginning of the year. Is the West down this year?

"The West is down. At the end of the day people wanted to use a lot of excuses like the traveling to the east coast, to London , there were a lot of rough games but it doesn't matter. 8-8 is 8-8 and we're in a good position now in the play-offs and we have an opportunity now to go win a Super Bowl."

Has there been a difference in Coach Turner over the last four weeks?

"No. I think coach stays on his P's and Q's every week no matter win or lose. He tries to keep us motivated and make sure guys are staying in their play book and getting ready for the next week and he does a great job at doing that."

I read somewhere that he's given his best speeches the last couple of weeks, is that accurate?

"A little bit. He was more emotional over the last couple of weeks because he knew our backs were against the wall but Coach Turner always gets us ready for whoever is coming up the next week."

What do you anticipate Indy's mindset being coming in here after you beat them in the play-offs last year?

"Honestly, Peyton Manning is going to come out and just throw that ball around. I know they're going to run the ball here and there but I think Peyton is going to try to put it on his shoulders and get this win because two years ago they were Super Bowl Champs and I think they want to get back there."

Is there any advantage that comes from the way you had to get here this year?

"I think we're getting stronger as a team. As a defense we were playing real poor early on in the season, our offense was up and down through out the season but through out these past few weeks it just shows how much heart as a team we have. We're just out there playing football trying to do the best we can."

Going deep last year; did that pay off this year?

"I think so. We were there before, we were competing for the AFC Championship in New England in a hostile environment, and guys were injured. The biggest thing is that we have everybody healthy. Guys are banged up and nicked up but there are no serious injuries so it's good to have everybody out there."

Compare this year's team to last year's team at this point.

"There is a big difference. Philip Rivers is healthy, LaDainian Tomlinson is healthy and Antonio Gates is healthy. Our leaders are stepping up. Philip is playing great football right now, he's playing like an MVP and hopefully it carries into next Saturday."

As a guy who sees him in practice everyday, how long do you think L.T. has been healthy?

"I think he's been healthy since around week four, I think he finally got his knack. The biggest thing I think is that our offensive line is playing well now. With them playing as well as they're playing L.T., Darren Sproles and Jacob Hester are going to get a lot of carries and get a lot of yards. As long as those guys are playing physical up front our guys are going to get a lot of yards."

How satisfying is it to know that you're at the point where you're playing better each week?

"It doesn't really matter what anybody is saying about us, it's what's going on in the locker room. I think we were more disappointed on defense that we didn't get off the field in the first drive. That's something that we harped on all week and we didn't do it. We knew our offense was going to put points on the board, we knew we could run the ball, but as defense, like I said, we didn't play a great game. We have to make sure we get in this guy's face next week because if not it's going to be a long day."


SD Super Chargers Top Stories

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