Strong Week of Practice Sets Tone for Bolts

The Chargers will look to build on last week's win over Kansas City with a strong showing in Sunday's matchup with the visiting Raiders. If they do, it will be because of the work they put in from Wednesday to Saturday.

In looking for reasons why the Chargers turned in their most complete game of the season, don't overlook their preparation.

"When we step on the practice field, we know that there has to be a sense of urgency and we have to practice hard and practice the right way," defensive back Steve Gregory said.

If the Chargers do that again, it can make for another happy Sunday.

"That's going to translate into the games," said Gregory, who had an interception in Sunday's conquest of the Chiefs. "Not that we haven't done that in the past, but it just wasn't translating as well as it did this week. Hopefully, we'll keep it rolling."

The time is now for the Chargers to get on a roll, after reaching .500 for the first time since Oct. 4.

QB Philip Rivers
Jeff Gross/Getty
Already three games behind the AFC West-leading Broncos, the Chargers can ill-afford to turn in many more shoddy showings. They face the Raiders at home before hitting the road to play the Giants. Then after a home game against Philadelphia, the Chargers play the Broncos in Denver.

There are two tough -- but not impossible -- road trips in there as well as two home games the Chargers should win.

"We got one week better," quarterback Philip Rivers said of the Chiefs' triumph. "Winning 37-7 didn't all of a sudden make us a team that's unbeatable by any means. We've got to go get another week better against Oakland and get another win."

To do so, they need to fall on coaches' all-time favorite phrase: "You play like you practice."

"They're as physical (of a) front as we're going to play against," coach Norv Turner said of the Raiders. "So we have to be prepared for it."


--QB Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes and no interceptions Sunday, and he did so without absorbing a sack. That is saying something -- maybe just how bad the Chiefs are -- as the Chargers had allowed five sacks the previous game against Denver. Rivers continues to be the trigger point for the offense.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson gained a season-high 71 yards and showed the moves and quickness that have highlighted his career. Tomlinson's 36-yard scamper was his longest run of the year. The team still has run-blocking issues, but Tomlinson showed he can still scoot if given some room.

--TE Antonio Gates is usually used on underneath routes, but he had a run-and-catch for 25 yards on Sunday. He finished with five receptions for 55 yards, and he continues to play minus the pain from injuries that restricted him the past two years.

WR Vincent Jackson
Jacob de Golish/Getty
--WR Vincent Jackson had the best receiving half in franchise history when he collected 142 yards in the first 30 minutes Sunday. Jackson had two catches of 51 yards each, as he continues to show his ability to get open and control his body control in midair when reaching up for receptions. His second half was built around run-blocking, and he didn't have a catch.

--WR Chris Chambers continues to head the wrong way. He dropped two passes Sunday -- one of which would have been for a touchdown. Chambers is getting frustrated that his playing time is being shared by Malcom Floyd. Floyd had a scoring catch Sunday. Chambers is in a funk and needs to shed it.

--WR Buster Davis continues to be a healthy inactive on game days. The Chargers burned a first-round pick on Davis a couple of years ago but have very little to show for it. Davis, it seems, can't shake nagging injuries or illness.

--RB Darren Sproles made his mark through the air Sunday, and no play was bigger than his 58-yard reception that resulted in a touchdown. Sproles can inflict damage in so many ways and is a threat to score no matter where -- or how -- he gets the ball. He added 41 rushing yards to his 58 receiving yards and his 52 return yards.

--WR Malcom Floyd is getting more playing time, at the expense of Chris Chambers. Floyd is an inviting target in the red zone and has long been one of Philip Rivers' favorite targets. Look for his production to increase as the season enters its second half.

--ILB Tim Dobbins was sensational when getting a chance to fill in for Kevin Burnett (ankle). Dobbins had a team-best 11 tackles and an interception. He plays with a physical, nasty bent, which the defense embraces.

--ILB Kevin Burnett is still down with a sprained ankle, and he could miss his second straight game Sunday. Burnett's absence, though, was lessened by the fine play of Tim Dobbins.

--FS Eric Weddle was sent on numerous blitzes, and he responded with a sack. Weddle is getting used to a new starting safety, rookie Kevin Ellison, and other changes to the secondary. Weddle had some struggles early on, but he has played better of late.

--CB Dante Hughes, waived by San Diego last week, was re-signed on Tuesday.

--CB Simeon Castille, added to the Chargers' active roster from the practice squad Saturday, was placed on waivers Tuesday.

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