Michael Lombardo: Tomlinson won't author any more seasons like his 2006 masterpiece (2,323 yards from scrimmage and 31 total touchdowns), but he's still one of the NFL's premier backs when healthy. The question is whether Tomlinson, 30, can stay healthy for a 16-game season and the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Raiders, that won't be an issue in Week 1.
MW: Shawne Merriman is back in the legal spotlight after his situation with Tila Tequila. How much, if any, will that have an effect on his season and specifically the Monday night game.
ML: This legal snafu won't have any impact on Merriman's season. The San Diego DA has already dropped the charges, meaning Merriman won't face suspensions or legal consequences. The bigger concern is Merriman's surgically repaired knee. The injury limited him through the offseason and he has yet to get completely comfortable playing on it. Merrriman will likely be limited to about 40 snaps against the Raiders, with first-round pick Larry English spelling him in some passing situations.
WR Vincent Jackson
ML: Yes, I believe the Chargers will continue to attack Asomugha, although I don't think the wrist plays a factor in that game plan. The real issue is that Vincent Jackson is an emerging star and the Chargers will make a concerted effort to get him plenty of touches. Jackson was already a big-play threat -- he led the NFL last season in yards per catch (18.6) amongst receivers with at least 50 receptions -- and he's taken his game to another level this offseason. He and Rivers have incredible chemistry together.
MW: The window of opportunity for the Chargers appears to be shrinking with each year. If they don't win it all this year or come close, do you see A.J. Smith tearing the roster up and starting to rebuild?
ML: Smith is not a tear-up-the-roster kind of guy. He is a stubborn leader who believes in his system and will stick with it until he's no longer the GM. However, the Chargers do have a lot of key players scheduled for free agency this offseason (Jackson, Merriman, Darren Sproles, Marcus McNeill, Chris Chambers, etc.), so there's a chance for much more turnover than usual. Also, while Smith usually avoids the free agent market, he could become more of a player next offseason.
MW: Take away the top three -- Tomlinson, Rivers and Merriman -- and who do you see making the biggest impact in the game for San Diego ?
ML: The obvious answer would be Jackson, but since I've already talked about his role, I'll go with LB Stephen Cooper. In my opinion, Cooper is the second-best player on San Diego's defense (behind Quentin Jammer) and is severely underrated. He'll be charged will stifling Oakland's running game and slowing down TE Zach Miller over the middle, two key elements in Monday's game. He's also the quarterback of a defense that's become exponentially more intricate now that coordinator Ron Rivera has had an entire offseason to install his system.
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. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.