Talk about a rough couple days for Vincent Jackson. First, he failed to catch a single pass in the wildcard game against the Indianapolis Colts. It was just the second time he was held without a reception this season, the other being the Week 13 contest against the Atlanta Falcons.
Less than three days after the game, Jackson was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Jackson, who has a prior DUI on his record, will not face a suspension during the postseason. However, the distraction comes at the worst possible time as the Chargers prepare to take on the top-ranked pass defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers (156.9 yards per game).
"Yesterday I was stopped by an officer. I don't think any charges will be filed as a result of the stop. In the event they are, I look forward to clearing my name and proving my innocence," said Jackson in a statement.
If Jackson can keep his mind right, he may be in for a big game against the Steelers. After his last catchless game, Jackson bounced back to catch five passes for 148 yards and a touchdown the following week. Of course, that game was against the Oakland Raiders, a far cry from the quality of the opponent currently on-deck.
Could Ron be Gone?
DC Ron Rivera
Rivera has done so well since taking over in Week 9 that he is generating interest from multiple teams in search of a head coach. The current list of teams looking for a new lead man includes the Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets.
"My sole focus and concentration right now is helping the Chargers win a championship. Nothing else matters right now," Rivera said. "I don't want to let anything distract from our objective."
Rivera's defense will be under the spotlight again on Sunday in what is expected to be a low-scoring slugfest. If the Chargers defense delivers another winning performance, look for the buzz surrounding Rivera to reach fervor.
Big Role for Bennett
Barring a miracle, LaDainian Tomlinson won't play against the Steelers. That means Michael Bennett is in for a busy day, especially if the Chargers keep the score close or play with a lead. Bennett was impressive last week in his first action as a Charger, averaging 6 yards per carry on four rushes and catching one pass for 7 yards.
With Bennett primed and Darren Sproles on a tear, the Chargers will likely keep Tomlinson on the inactive list unless he is certain he can handle more than token carries. Last week, the Chargers had to deactivate FB Mike Tolbert to make room for Bennett. By placing LT on the inactive list against the Steelers, the Chargers can activate Tolbert and make use of his skills as a receiver and short-yardage runner.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.