Chargers Ready to Cowboy-Up

The streaking Chargers continue their annual roll, running their winning streak in December to 15 games. But getting No. 16 is a tall task with the team traveling to Dallas.

The Cowboys are being coached by a familiar face in Wade Phillips. He was the Chargers' defensive coordinator for four seasons, his last being in 2006 when the Chargers went 14-2.

Ron Rivera, the Chargers' current defensive coordinator, said he respects what Phillips accomplished.

"I will say this to you: look at the legacy and what he's created and what he left here," said Rivera, who took over for Ted Cottrell midway through last year. "I like to think we are getting ourselves back to that and it feels good to reflect on what he had done here previously."

The Chargers' offense has been humming, scoring at least 30 points in four consecutive games. Rivera said Sunday will bring a good challenge to that unit going against Phillips' team.

"I think it's their tough attitude," Rivera said about a characteristic of a Phillips' defense. "He's an aggressive play-caller and that is exciting."


WR Malcom Floyd
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Phillips trying to slow the Chargers' high-octane scheme is among the interesting matchups Sunday. Philip Rivers has so many weapons at his disposal it's anyone's guess who will contribute in any game.

"Every week you don't know who it is going to be," Rivers said. "Teams are trying to do some things to take away Vincent (Jackson) by rolling coverages that way and we have to be more creative."

That's not difficult with Pro Bowlers Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson, plus running back Darren Sproles and receiver Malcom Floyd.

Gates, in particular, is playing at a phenomenal level.

"I can't say enough about Antonio Gates," coach Norv Turner said. "He continues to amaze me in what he does and he's just having an unbelievable year."

Rivers said with Gates clicking, it just makes everyone else better.

"I know with the threats on the outside, this is as complete as we have been, sideline to sideline," Rivers said. "It's as complete and diverse as we have been."

LINEUP WATCH: The offensive line could have a different look Sunday with center Nick Hardwick possibly returning. Hardwick, a former Pro Bowler, has been out since the opener with an ankle injury. Plus, right tackle Jon Runyan got his feet wet Sunday in his first action as a Charger. While the Chargers have been pleased with Brandyn Dombrowski filling in for injured starter Jeromey Clary, they are also anxious to see how the veteran Runyan contributes down the stretch and his playing time could increase. He had a great block to spring Darren Sproles on a big reception Sunday.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- One draft pick is all that separates two of the game's top linebackers playing on Sunday. The Cowboys selected DeMarcus Ware one slot ahead of the Chargers' Shawne Merriman in the 2005 draft. Ware has been named to three Pro Bowls; Merriman, who missed most of last year with a knee injury, is also three-time Pro Bowler. Ware has already signed a long-term extension; Merriman is in the final year of his deal with no movement toward an extension.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--OLB Shawne Merriman (foot) will attempt to practice and will likely play Sunday after missing one game.

--S Eric Weddle (knee) is probably a week away from playing.

--DE Luis Castillo (calf) is hoping to practice and possibly be active this weekend after missing two games.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson enters Sunday's game as the NFL's eighth all-time leading rusher after passing Jim Brown.

--QB Philip Rivers has thrown for more than 3,000 yards for four straight years, a first in team history.


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