Chargers vs. Chiefs Preview: Defense

There is no question what the Chiefs' objective is heading into the Monday night showdown with their division rival the San Diego Chargers – pressure the quarterback and force turnovers. But with so many question marks still on the defensive side of the ball, who should Chiefs fans expect to see wreaking havoc on Monday night?

Although missing practice early in the week, expect OLB Tamba Hali to be amped and ready to go Monday night. Hali has again been hampered by nagging foot injuries that seems to be recurring, but under the lights of primetime football and a sold out Arrowhead, expect big things from a rejuvenated Hali.

The Chiefs are expecting significant improvement from the big men upfront and it starts with Glenn Dorsey. Dorsey is heading into his third year with the Chiefs and they need him to make strides in 2010 if this defensive unit has any chance of success. Monday night should be a good opportunity for him to get his best foot forward with the Chargers dragging their feet in signing starting left tackle Marcus McNeil.

Filling in for McNeil will be Brandyn Dombrowski, an undrafted third-year converted guard out of San Diego State. This should make it difficult for Phillip Rivers to take many shots down the field without the Pro Bowler guarding his blindside, so expect a lot of short dump-off passes from the QB.

The key to a win on Monday night will be shutting down the rushing attack of the Chargers. With still much unknown about the young backup offensive tackle, expect to see a heavy dose of running backs Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. The Chiefs' rushing defense was absolutely terrible last season, so this will be a solid early season test of their improvement from last year.

Also making it difficult on Rivers will be the absence of WR Vincent Jackson, who is also having a contract dispute. Last week the Chargers made a trade for WR Patrick Crayton, but with little more than a week of preparation don't expect him to receive too much playing time.

However, this does not mean the two Brandon's (Carr and Flowers) can take it easy on their new receiver. Although not getting many looks in his first few games since arriving from San Diego in a midseason trade last season, Chris Chambers made his few catches count when he did hit the field in 2010. So let's hope the corners play up to their potential.

With all but one of the Chiefs' sacks in preseason coming from the linebackers, I am a bit concerned about where the sacks will come from against the Chargers. The linebackers will have their hands full with TE Antonio Gates, which will make it difficult to utilize the LB blitz that defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is so fond of.

Getting a pass rush on Rivers will be essential if the Chiefs have any chance of winning this game. Rivers is way too accurate to let him get comfortable in the pocket. He will eat this defense alive if given the opportunity. If the Chiefs can stop the run, the Chargers will be forced to push the ball downfield, which could give pass rush specialist like Wallace Gilberry and Domarrio Williams a chance to tee-off on the QB. And with backup QB Billy Volek hampered with injuries, this could spell disaster for the Chargers if Rivers gets shaken up.

This should be a great test for this young and unproven defensive unit. These guys are sure to look much different in Week 8 than they do in Week 1, but setting the bar high to start the season would be a very positive sign of things to come.

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