Youngsters Look to Cash in on Opportunities

With the release of wide receiver Chris Chambers, up to four other Chargers could get more playing time.

The first beneficiary is Malcom Floyd, the team's lanky and acrobatic pass catcher who no longer will split time with Chambers. Floyd is now entrenched as the starter opposite Vincent Jackson.

Legedu Naanee becomes the third wideout, and he's due for an extended role. He is versatile enough -- a former high school quarterback -- that he might be a perfect fit if the team wants to expand on its Wildcat formation.

Kassim Osgood is a two-time Pro Bowler on special teams, but he has longed barked for a chance at wideout. Osgood was a pretty good one at San Diego State, then got labeled as a special teams player on a squad loaded with good receivers -- not to mention tight end Antonio Gates.

WR Buster Davis
Shana Siler/
And could Chambers' exit mean Buster Davis will do something other than just practice?

Davis, a first-round pick out of LSU two years ago, usually spends his Sunday as a healthy inactive. And while he is still down on the team's pecking order -- the Chargers could dress only four wide receivers against the Giants on Sunday -- he is at least one step closer to playing.

The Chargers pointed to Chambers' dwindling production as the reason for cutting the one-time Pro Bowler. But what was also working against the nine-year pro was that he didn't play special teams and that the Chargers have lost two inside linebackers over the past three weeks.

Chambers was claimed off waivers by the Chiefs.

The team filled Chambers' roster spot by promoting inside linebacker James Holt from the practice squad.

The Chargers are thin on the inside with starter Kevin Burnett missing the past two games due to an ankle injury and his replacement, Tim Dobbins, suffering a two-week knee injury in the win over the Raiders.


--QB Philip Rivers heads into his showdown with Eli Manning coming off a so-so game -- for Rivers. He still had a 93.6 rating in completing 16 of 25 passes for 249 yards and a score. He was sacked once and picked off once, although the interception came off a deflected pass.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson is getting his mojo back, and he proved it with two rushing scores Sunday -- one of which came off a direct snap in the Wildcat formation. The Chargers' run-blocking still isn't where it needs to be, but Tomlinson is likely as healthy as he has been all season.

--RB Darren Sproles continues to be dangerous no matter where or how he touches the ball. He had a 39-yard kickoff return to go with his 46 rushing and receiving yards. He did have a killer fumble, though, on a punt return.

--WR Vincent Jackson had eight catches for 103 yards; that gives him four 100-yard receiving games this season. He has turned in consecutive 100-yard games twice this year, and he had the lone scoring reception against the Raiders.

--WR Malcom Floyd set the tone with a great 53-yard reception on the Chargers' first play Sunday. With Chris Chambers getting cut, Floyd's playing time is going to go up significantly.

--TE Antonio Gates had only three catches Sunday, but they were good for 49 yards, with a long of 30. With the defense paying so much attention to him, it opened up the routes on the outside.

--OLB Shawne Merriman is finally able to exhale after getting his first sacks since the 2007 season. The three-time Pro Bowler, who missed all but one game in 2008, had two sacks against the Raiders as he continues to show more burst after last year's knee surgery.

--ILB Brandon Siler had waited nearly three years for his chance, and he didn't disappoint. Siler came in Sunday when Tim Dobbins went down and collected six tackles. He could get his first NFL start Sunday.

--ILB Stephen Cooper is playing with more range after an ailing knee had restricted his side-to-side movement. Cooper had a game-high 10 tackles on Sunday.

--DB Steve Gregory has played well since moving from safety into the nickel role. Gregory is keen on blitzes and had another sack Sunday. He also had a tackle for a loss and another quarterback hit.

--FB Mike Tolbert has mostly made his name with the Chargers this season by being one of their top special teams players. But he is slowly seeing more playing time as the lead blocker for RB LaDainian Tomlinson, lining up as a fullback. His increased snaps are coming at the expense of Jacob Hester.

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