Charger Leaders Break Down Colts

Coach Norv Turner and several Chargers players addressed the media on Wednesday regarding this weekend's matchup with Indy. Turner talks about his team's confidence; LaDainian Tomlinson gives an injury update; Shaun Phillips reveals some changes in the defense; and Philip Rivers talks about accolades and Powder Blues.

Head Coach Norv Turner

On Philip Rivers being the AFC Offensive Player of the Month…

"It's fitting. He's had a great month. Obviously when you look at the things he's done. Our offense group had played at an extremely high level. Our offensive line has played great. We've achieved the balance we've been talking about. We're running the ball that certainly helps everybody. Vincent Jackson could be our Player of the Month. We're getting great performances from a lot of people."

Is it just a precautionary measure resting Antonio Gates and LT?

"I hope it is. I hope they're able to get out and run around tomorrow. They're both still tender. We'll see where they're at tomorrow."

How frustrating is it that just like last year you have two of them being injured?

"I think they will be available so I'm not frustrated yet. I'm concerned. The thing about is that we have other people ready to go today. We have to have them prepared because obviously if you go into the game injured a little bit you may not get through the entire game."

Is it frustrating because maybe LT looked the best in this last game?

"I've talked about our running game and obviously our offensive line. LT certainly (played well) in that Raider game. He's each week gotten better and played awfully well in Tampa . You knew he was on the verge to breaking a long run and he has his longest run against Denver . I think he feels pretty good. I think he's being smart with it. Hopefully he can break off another run Saturday night like he did the other night."

Is he closer to playability?

"I don't know. I can't answer that. Tomorrow morning I'll have a better feel for it."

Is Malcom Floyd ready?

"Malcom is ready to go. Again because of our situation with a number of guys that are limping around a little bit we'll just have to make some tough decisions Saturday in terms of that 45-man roster. I would like to have Malcom up and ready to go. He obviously can make plays that change games."

HC Norv Turner
Rick Stewart/Getty

On having confidence playing against the Colts, who are on a roll:

"I think the thing that's more important to us is that we're playing at a high level and we've gotten better each week over I think the last eight weeks but certainly over the last four weeks. That's as important as anything. The fact that we played six weeks ago and it was a three-point game. We felt there were things we could've done better and given us a better chance to win. I'm sure they feel the same way about it. I look at the last three times we played and the three games have been decided by a total of nine points. We're here preparing trying to cover everything we can and be as thorough as we can so whatever situation comes up, we can handle it."

What makes their pass defense so tough?

"They do a great job of everyone being where their supposed to be. They do not give you a lot of opportunities to throw the ball up the field. You have to be very patient. I think Philip was 24-of-30 the last time we played them. We did get the opportunity to throw the ball up-field deep. We did get a couple plays where we were able to run after the catch but for the most part they keep the ball in front of them. They are great tacklers and they have to great pass rushers on the edge. They do a great job with their entire front four but on their edge they present you great problems. You can't hold the ball a long time."

Does Dallas Clark present a challenge?

"He really does. They've been together so long that they do the same things. Peyton does such a good job at the line of scrimmage, getting them in and out of the best play. Clark gives the same problem that we like to think Gates gives people. He can be a wide receiver. He can be in the slot. He can be down at tight end. He does a real nice job of using his body and leveraging off defensive backs. He's got great hands and he catches everything around him."

How do feel about being called paper tigers?

"I don't know if you can react to it. I understand why it's being said. We have a proud group. We have a confident group. A lot of things that are being said are things that were being said when we entered the playoffs a year ago. Once that ball gets kicked off, I don't know if any of that matters."

Will it come down to whoever has the ball in the end like last year's game?

"I don't know. Last year up there in Indianapolis they had it a couple times in the last five minutes and we were able to stop them. I just think you have to be ready for any situation and if we're in that situation on offense and we need to get points, then we need to find a way to get them. If we have to stop them, we have to stop them."

Running Back LaDainian Tomlinson

How is your health? Is it better than Monday?

"It's doing alright; it's a little bit better today. Hopefully on Saturday it will be even better. It's a lot better than Monday. With two days of rest it feels a lot better, so I'm hoping on Saturday it will be even better."

How frustrating is it to be injured right before playoffs the second year in a row?

"It's not frustrating. Football is a game of impact, it's a contact sport and people are going to get injured and get hurt. I've been fortunate to be healthy most of my career, but injuries are something I am going to have to deal with as I get older."

What are your thoughts on Philip Rivers being player of the month?

"He's the main reason we're in this position right now. He's played well all season long and we've just been riding his back and he's been carrying us so hopefully he continues to play at a high level like he's been doing."

What has been the reason for the O-line's play recently?

"I think just the opportunities they're getting to come off and hit people and the plays that we are doing they are comfortable with, particularly the running game. I think that's why you're seeing those guys be so successful."

Do you have the same confidence in the guys behind you this year that you said you had in Michael Turner last year?

"Yeah, I have the same type of confidence. I think those guys have been improving over this whole year when given an opportunity."

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Harry How/Getty

How will you approach tomorrow's workout?

"I probably won't do too much. I really think that was part of it for me last year, was trying to push it, so it got sore the next day. I'd rather push it in the game and let it be sore the day after that."

Who has better commercials, you or Peyton Manning?

"That's a tough matchup. His last commercial, I think it was MasterCard, where he was in San Diego and she told him to take a hike and he said, ‘Yeah I might do that,' that might have put him over the top because that was pretty funny. I get a kick out of his commercials."

How much can you practice by film?

"Honestly, you can do it quite a bit, when you've played the guys quite a bit. The only thing that may be different in the beginning is you're timing, and you can get that as the game goes on. It shouldn't be too much of a factor when you don't practice much of the week, knowing who you're playing against and knowing that you've played them a bunch of times."

Does wearing powder blue's mean anything more to you guys?

"I didn't find out that we were wearing until today, so I had no idea. It's what everybody wants and we're going to look sweet on Saturday night."

The Colts are hot right now but you've had success against them; how much confidence does that give you for this game?

"I think you gain a great deal of confidence knowing that you have beaten this team, but also I think it keeps it in perspective because they've beaten you also. They beat us this year in our backyard. So you're confident but at the same time you're focused and know that you have to be on your game to be able to beat this team."

They didn't have Bob Sanders last game. What difference will that make?

"It's a big difference, because we're talking about last year's defensive player of the year and he's a guy that makes a lot of plays and sets the tempo for their defense so it's going to make a big difference."

How do you feel about people saying the Chargers are like a paper tiger going into this one?

"I haven't heard that, thanks for telling me. I guess it is what it is. We know what we have to deal with and that a lot of people feel like that. All season long it's been just us in this locker room, that's the way we've been approaching it and that's the way we're going to approach it Saturday night."

Linebacker Shaun Phillips

On the Peyton Manning experience:

"For me, a quarterback is a quarterback. I just see a number. Peyton's obviously a great (quarterback), probably the best in the game, but at the end of the day we have to focus on us and worry about what we can do and executing our game plan."

On the four-game win streak boosting confidence:

"It definitely boosts the confidence a bit, but it's still the playoffs and I'm pretty sure it give them (Indianapolis) that much more; especially since they're so hot. They've won nine in a row and their confidence is through the roof also. Like we keep preaching: it's about us and worrying about what we can do and taking care of our business. Peyton's going to do what he does. The coaches are going to do what they do. They've been the same team for the last…since Peyton's been there. They've been the same team and executed the same game plan and teams haven't been able to stop it. We've had a bit of success against it, but the last time we played against them they were able to make more plays than we did to win the game. We have to go out there and focus on what we do and try to make more plays than them."

On changes defensively since the last time you faced the Colts:

"I don't think we've changed defensively. I think we've executed our game plan better. We still do the same things. The same guys rush, the same guys drop (back in coverage) and we have the same personnel. We've just executed our game plan that much better."

LB Shaun Phillips
Andy Lyons/Getty

On if he'll see differences on defense next year once Ron Rivera has had a full training camp:

"I'm not even thinking about next year yet. I'm thinking about the Indianapolis Colts, and that's my focus. If I get to thinking about next year then I'm not thinking about the Colts. That's one minute less I'm not thinking about this game."

On if the defense has been generating enough pressure over the past few games:

"We have been getting more pressure, though we haven't been getting six or seven sacks a game. Like last game, I think we didn't get any sacks, but we had pressure. We forced error in throws…high throws and low throws. Some times it's not all about the sack. It's about getting pressure so that helps our DBs out, helps our secondary out."

On confidence in this game:

"No matter if we lost the last game (against the Colts) or not, or if we were on a winning streak or losing streak, it's still the playoffs so our confidence has got to be high. But, you have to be poised and as I keep reiterating, execute your game plan. The game is going to come down to who executes their game plan better."

On who has better commercials, LT or Peyton Manning:

"Peyton's commercials are also the funniest, I believe. They are always pretty funny."

On his New Year's resolution:

"I'm pretty sure every NFL player that's in the playoffs right now has the same New Year's resolution and that's win the Super Bowl."

On change of gears for the playoffs:

"You have to flip the switch because (in) the playoffs everyone is 0-0, and this is for all the marbles now. Every game should be treated like it's a playoff game but once you get to the playoffs every game should be treated like it's the Super Bowl. That's the mentality you have to have. It's really win or go home. Win or die. That's what everyone says. It's win or die."

On the Chargers being labeled "paper tigers":

"There's always going to be talk. There is always going to be people commenting on this or commenting on that, but they key to winning this game is staying focused…staying the course. Our focus is going out there and executing our game plan. That is it. You want to keep your head out the media, keep your head out the paper and just focus on us. No mattee if one of those guys is to talk trash about us through the media or something like that. We can't go out there and focus on that. We have to focus on us. If we can focus on our game plan and executing our game plan for 60 minutes then I think we can come out on top."

Quarterback Philip Rivers

On being named AFC Offensive Player of the Month:

"I'm grateful. It took a lot of the guys, a lot of us played well in December to get to this point. You want to be playing your best in December and hopefully it'll carry over into January."

Why do you think you are playing better as a team right now?

"I think it's just a matter of we stuck with it all year long through the tough times, obviously the lowest being at 4-8. We just stuck with it and we've continued to work on the things we weren't doing well and tried to keep getting better and that's carried over into the games these past four weeks. We need to continue to do that this Saturday to give us a chance to win."

How do you feel about the fact that the Chargers are somewhat perceived as underdogs this weekend?

"Nobody thought we were going to win in Tampa either. Everybody's not always right and it doesn't really matter. We believe it in our locker room. Obviously the Colts believe it in their locker room, they're going to win. It's playoff football. I see us as 0-0 and them as 0-0. The 16 games previous tell a lot about who you are and what you've done but when it comes down to one game, all those really don't matter. We need to be at our best to win. Obviously they've won nine in a row and are playing as well as anybody in the league. It'll take our best on Saturday to get it done."

Are you guys playing your best right now?

"I think there's no question about it. We didn't win more than two games in a row all year. To put four in a row, two tough ones on the road in Kansas City and Tampa especially with our backs against the wall, I think it shows we have the right mentality and focus and guys to get it done. We showed it last year winning a few playoff games, one of them on the road against the Colts. That doesn't mean we're going to do it again, but it certainly gives us the confidence to go out and play well."

If you could take one aspect of Peyton Manning's game and make it your own, what would you want?

"I think for me it's his work in the pocket. Just a couple weeks ago, the Thursday night game against Jacksonville , there were a few plays where he moved probably two or three feet but it was amazing what time he bought himself and converted on a couple third downs. Obviously we know what a tight game that was. I think he hit the first 17 in that game. I think his work in the pocket, his ability to buy a little extra time without moving a whole lot really adds to his ability to make throws and get some balls off that a lot of guys wouldn't get off."

QB Philip Rivers
Jeff Gross/Getty

Who is the one guy on that Colts defense you have to be especially mindful of?

"It's hard to single one out. Obviously for me from a coverage standpoint, Bob Sanders is the guy that moves around the most and you've got to be aware of. Both of their ends, Mathis and Freeney, both are in double digits in sacks and they change games, Jacksonville being one of them. Jacksonville 's got a chance down there, both of them get there are the same time. Cleveland , they have a sack/fumble for a touchdown. Our game, a sack/fumble when we were driving that would have helped us take the lead there if we had just got three. Those are the three guys that stand out as game changers, but they have a solid defense, all 11 guys. They know their role, they know their scheme. They aren't real complicated and that's why they play things so well. They don't make a lot of mistakes and give up big plays and that's why they're right there at the top of a lot of the categories on defense."

Is this the toughest pass defense you've faced?

"I think it shows. I guess they've given up six passing TDs all year, which is the lowest of all time for a 16-game season. It's a little bit of a bend but don't break. I think there are some completions out there but again, they don't want to give up the big chunks. If their pass rush can get there and they can force you to make a mistake, they try not to make them. They try to make you cause all the errors and (they) play mistake free. They've done that most of the year."

How much confidence do you gain from the fact that you guys have played the Colts so well in recent years?

"There's just a great deal of familiarity with both teams. I've heard where they feel like they know us well and they do. We feel like we know them pretty well. It's almost like it's been a division opponent the past couple of years. It's always been good, close games. I think it does help, the fact that we won at their place last year, but you kind of go back to the most recent game. They beat us at our place. It came down to the wire but we won the game. We certainly feel confident at our place that we can win. I know they feel confident. They came in here and beat us six weeks ago or so. It'll be two confident teams that are playing well and that have high expectations throughout the rest of this tournament. Hopefully we'll be on top when Saturday night comes to an end."

Can you talk about how your offensive line has played down the stretch?

"They've played great. They've been great all year as far as I'm concerned. When things don't go well, everybody is looking for everything to give the blame to somebody. Those guys have fought through injuries and nicks and bumps all year long, some that are never even mention. They're five guys, you throw Brandon (Manumaleuna) in the mix there and other guys who have played, they're the guys you want up there fighting for you. They fight for you till the end. They haven't played great these last four weeks in particular, which I think is obviously been one of the key reasons why we've won four in a row."

Were they getting criticized unfairly early in the year?

"I think there are a lot of positions that were and could have been criticized unfairly. We lost a lot of close games. I think the thing we didn't do was let that affect our mindset of one another in the locker room. That's the key, to not let the outside affect how we feel about one another in there. We hung together. There are a lot of 4-8 teams that would turn their backs on each other and really pack it in. We found out a lot about us and hopefully that'll pay off for us this weekend and throughout the rest of the month."

How frustrating is it that the playoffs are here again and Tomlinson and Gates are hurt? "Maybe I was thinking too early, but I was thinking even going into the Denver game, ‘Hey, we get through this one, this is as healthy as we've been in a while going into the playoffs. Obviously those two guys getting nicked up a little bit, I know they're both hopeful to play and play well. We certainly hope so too. Guys will step up as we did last year, as we did throughout this year. Guys will step up and we'll keep on going."

Did the players decide to try to wear the powder blue uniforms?

"They weren't a player decision. I imagine if all the guys do know, I found out yesterday morning, but guys are excited. Certainly I don't think it's the uniform that makes you play well but we have played pretty well when we wear those and it'll probably add to the atmosphere a little bit and it'll be good and cranked up."

Do you and Manning have much of a relationship?

"Somewhat. Certainly he's one of my favorites, always has been. I went down there and worked the camp one year when I was in college, his camp in Louisiana. He's a heck of a player. I think a lot of him and it's always fun. There's a handful of guys that are still playing that you grew up, later years of high school and college, that you kind of were in awe of a little bit. Now you're getting to compete against them, a Peyton Manning-led team. It's exciting."

Did the Pro Bowl snub motivate you these last two weeks?

"It really didn't at all. I don't think you can base things on those types of things. Certainly it would have been an honor to make it. Those three guys that did make it are deserving. I was more focused and interested in finding a way to get into the playoffs. We've done that and now we're trying to see if we can make a run. It really didn't add any. I play with the same amount of effort and study the same regardless each and every week."

Who makes better commercials, Manning or LT?

"I'd be biased and say LT because he's a teammate but we know LT a little bit more. Some of those with Peyton are hilarious. The one in particular about him in San Diego, it's good. I always get a kick out of it."

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