Chargers Coaches Kick Off Busy Bye Week

Despite a week off as the AFC's No. 2 seed, the Chargers could still be busy.

While the players await next week's divisional round playoff opponent, the coaching staff could become the focus.

It's believed the Chargers could soon pull the trigger in extending coach Norv Turner's contract, which expires at the end of the 2010 season. Whenever the extension comes down, there is little doubt Turner is deserving of a new contract.

Turner, who was under considerable heat when the team struggled to a 2-3 start, has directed the Chargers to three AFC West titles and an AFC Championship Game appearance since replacing Marty Schottenheimer before the 2007 season.

"I think as he's done really every year, the steadiness, the never-flinch leadership and attitude that he coaches with has allowed us to bounce back from 2-3 and stay on the ground, enjoying an (11-game) win streak," quarterback Philip Rivers said.

Rivers said Turner shows his strength in staying the course even if the Chargers venture off it.

"We never get too much on a high or too much on a low," said Rivers, a Pro Bowler who has blossomed under Turner's guidance. "It's a steady, grounded, focused approach. It starts with him -- he and the staff -- the week-to-week game plans giving us a chance to succeed. I think, ultimately, the guys have to soak that in and put in the effort preparing. I think that's been the biggest reason why we've played so well."


LB Larry English
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LaDainian Tomlinson said what impresses him is Turner turning over all the rocks.

"He has had a plan for every situation we've gone through," Tomlinson said. "We're probably as well prepared as we've ever been, this year. That's a testament to Norv's game plan. ... That's where he's done his best job."

Turner has always had a booster in A.J. Smith, the Chargers' head-strong general manager who was part of the reason Schottenheimer was fired after a 14-2 season. Smith and Schottenheimer rarely spoke -- that's not the case with Smith and Turner.

"The players have bought in to Turner's philosophy and are both confident and composed heading into the season's stretch run," Smith said. "I know how Norv Turner is wired. I know that football is his main focus. He does his job and he does it well. I believe in him and his ability to take us where we want to go."

That would be the Super Bowl, a destination the Chargers have reached once. But the Chargers are built for just that, with a potent offense, reliable special teams and a defense that was partially rebuilt during the season and improves each week.

That's why Turner isn't the only Chargers coach who could make news. Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera is expected to interview for the Bills' head coaching vacancy. Rivera and new Bills general manager Buddy Nix were in San Diego together.

LINEUP WATCH: The thinking was when the Chargers signed veteran OL Jon Runyan he would be inserted into the starting lineup to replace injured starter Jeromey Clary. But Brandyn Dombrowski has played so well for Clary, Runyan remains with the second team.

TRENDING: It's clear mending players will enjoy the rest that comes with the first-round bye, but is a sabbatical a good thing? The Chargers were smoking hot in 2006 after going 14-2 and earning the AFC's top seed. But after a week off, the Chargers were upset at home by the Patriots in what would be Schottenheimer's last game as the Chargers' head coach.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--DE Jacques Cesaire (elbow) will be OK for the playoffs; he didn't play in the regular-season finale.

--OLB Shawne Merriman gave his sore foot a rest Sunday and with another week off is hoping to be fit for the playoffs.

--WR Vincent Jackson didn't play in the Washington game as he battles a sore Achilles' tendon. He should be fine for the playoffs.

--FS Eric Weddle is still battling a tender knee, which cost him two games late in the season. He was rested in the last game but is expected to start in the playoffs.

--WR Buster Davis, a former first-round pick, got his first game action of the season Sunday. Davis, who had six catches for 52 yards, was a healthy inactive up to that point.


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