From The Other Side, Part 1

To find out more about the Dolphins' opponent this week, the San Diego Chargers, we checked in with SDBoltReport.com Publisher Michael Lombardo. In Part 1 of this three-part series, we take a look at the Chargers offense.

Q: Would you anticipate LaDainian Tomlinson playing Sunday? Is he even close to the runner he once was?

Michael Lombardo: I believe Tomlinson will play, although that won't be determined until later in the week. Regardless, I expect the Chargers to keep No. 3 running back Michael Bennett active and to rotate all three backs (Darren Sproles being the third). One of the team's biggest mistakes last week was underutilizing Bennett, who averaged 4.8 yards on four carries against a tough Baltimore Ravens defense.

Tomlinson is not anywhere near the player he was from 2002-2006, when he was one of the best players in the NFL. However, when healthy he's still capable of being a top-10 running back. He's still a three-down player who can catch the ball and pick up blitzes, but he lacks the explosion to be a dominating runner at this point in his career.

Q: Why is former Dolphins wide receiver Chris Chambers not putting up any kind of numbers with the Chargers?

ML: Right now, Chambers is probably the fifth-best receiver in San Diego's offense behind Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, Sproles and Malcom Floyd. Chambers, Floyd and Legedu Naanee all share time as the No. 2 receiver, which limits their opportunities. Nonetheless, Chambers still has good value because of his ability to work the sidelines and make plays on third down.

Q: Is Antonio Gates back to the player he was before he sustained his toe injury?

ML: Yes, Gates has been fantastic throughout the offseason and over the first two weeks. He caught five passes in each of the first two games and is getting open with regularity. His renewed speed and agility have allowed the Chargers to use him to create mismatches all over the field, especially when he's split out wide on third-and-short.

The one missing element has been red zone production. Gates has yet to score this season, which was glaring against the Ravens, when the Chargers went 0-for-5 in the red zone. However, this appears to be more about timing and scheme than ability. On film, Gates looks as good as ever.

Q: Why is Philip Rivers so effective when he has such a strange throwing motion?

ML: One of the best decisions the Chargers ever made was not to tamper with Rivers' throwing motion. Although it's unusual, he's used it his whole life and has become adept at finding throwing lanes. Also, his height (6-5) allows him to throw over linemen despite his three-quarter delivery.

Q: How vulnerable is the Chargers' banged-up offensive line, and are they expecting any of their guys back against the Dolphins?

ML: San Diego's offensive line is in a bad way right now. Center Nick Hardwick is out with an ankle injury and is unlikely to play against the Dolphins. He's a former Pro Bowler and one of the key components in San Diego's offense, so that's a big blow. Also, starting right guard Louis Vasquez is questionable with a knee injury. Whether Vasquez or his backup, Brandyn Dombrowski, gets the nod, San Diego's right guard will be making his second career start on Sunday.

The injuries have left the team with virtually no offensive line depth. Dennis Norman, a former Jacksonville Jaguars player who just signed with the Chargers last week, is the top backup on the interior line. The top backup tackle is Dombrowski, who could very well be starting at right guard on Sunday.


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