Five to Watch: Chargers vs. Chiefs

The San Diego Chargers look to win their sixth straight game and improve their divisional record to 5-1 when they host the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. Here's a look at the five Chargers players who must step up to help San Diego nail down its eighth win.

1. RT Brandyn Dombrowski -- The first-year player out of SDSU will make his third start of the season and his first at tackle. He's struggled in limited duty thus far, giving up a pair of sacks and drawing four penalties, so it's vital he pick up his game on Sunday. It should help that he's playing his more natural position of tackle, although most of his reps have come on the left side.

Dombrowski will remain in the starting lineup just long enough for the Chargers to get the newly signed Jon Runyan up to speed. If Dombrowski plays well against the Chiefs, it may earn him one more start the following week in Cleveland. If not, the Chargers will likely feel compelled to rush Runyan into the line-up for the game against the Browns.

WR Malcom Floyd
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2. WR Malcom Floyd -- One of the primary reasons the Bolts released Chris Chambers was the development of Floyd. However, in the three games since Chambers' departure, Floyd has averaged just three catches per game and has yet to top 50 receiving yards.

Floyd didn't post big stats when the Chargers met the Chiefs in Week 7 (two catches for 9 yards), although he did record his only TD catch of the season. San Diego will need more from Floyd on Sunday to help provide balance to the passing game and to remind people why releasing Chambers was the right move. It would be especially nice if Philip Rivers can find Floyd with the deep ball; Floyd has three catches of 40-plus yards this season, all of them coming in home games.

3. DE Alfonso Boone -- Luis Castillo is listed as doubtful with a calf injury, while Travis Johnson also appears on the injury report with groin and shoulder injuries. That means Boone and Jacques Cesaire will be the only healthy veteran defensive ends available against the Chiefs.

Boone, along with fellow midseason pickup Ian Scott, has gone a long way towards stabilizing the Chargers' run defense. Prior to joining the Chargers, he spent the last two seasons in Kansas City, so he's familiar with some of the players he'll be pitted against.

CB Antonio Cromartie
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4. CB Antonio Cromartie -- Only hours after hauling in his third pick in the last four games, Cromartie made the headlines for allegedly cracking a bar patron over the head with a Champaign bottle. It's important he prove that distraction won't affect his play and come out with a renewed focus against the Chiefs.

Cromartie will see some time against Chambers, who's averaging more than three catches and 80 yards per game since Kansas City claimed him. Chambers knows all about Cromartie's tendency to take plays off and will be eager to exploit that fact if given the opportunity.

5. FB Mike Tolbert -- Tolbert continues to be a force on special teams, racking up nine tackles in kick coverage so far this season. It's important he stay on his game against the Chiefs, especially when chasing down explosive KR Jamaal Charles, who already has a 97-yard return for a score this season.

Tolbert's emergence is showing on offense, as well, as he's scored touchdowns in each of the last two games, one in the air and one on the ground. If he can extend his scoring streak to three games, it will greatly boost the Chargers' chances of securing their sixth consecutive victory.

What players are you most excited to watch? Talk about it in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the 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.

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