Michael Lomboardo: From a physical standpoint, Merriman is probably about 90 percent. From a production standpoint, he's closer to 70 percent. He's still getting his timing back and is trying to force the action, rather than letting the game come to him.
The biggest concern with Merriman this week is his run defense. He's missed too many tackles over the first two weeks and has overrun too many plays. He's playing too selfishly to be trusted with backside containment, which will be a problem against the Dolphins' dynamic running game.
Q: How can the Chargers possibly overcome the loss of stud nose tackle Jamal Williams?
ML: In short, they can't. Williams was the anchor of San Diego's 3-4 defense and a player the team could not afford to lose. The Chargers still have the offensive firepower to outscore a lot of people, but the team no longer has the personnel to field a championship-caliber defense. The Ravens completely exposed Williams' absence last week, running at will all game long. I expect the Dolphins to do much of the same in Week 3.
Q: CB Antonio Cromartie followed a Pro Bowl season in 2007 with a sub-par 2008; what kind of start is he off to?
ML: Right now, Cromartie is somewhere between his two extreme seasons. He has yet to get his hands on the football, which he did on a seemingly weekly basis in 2007. But on the flip side, teams are not throwing at him very much so far this season, which is a big change from last season when he was targeted relentlessly.
Q: How much of a contribution is first-round pick Larry English making?
ML: Well, English's most noteworthy play to date was a running-into-the-kicker penalty last week, so that should give you some idea. He's still getting up to speed after missing most of training camp with a hamstring injury, so I wouldn't expect much of him in Week 3. Personally, I think OLB Jyles Tucker has more to offer than English at this point, especially against a run-first team like Miami.
Q: Who has been the Chargers' most effective defensive player so far this season?
ML: Quentin Jammer is playing the best football of his career and has emerged as San Diego's top defensive player. He is a true shutdown cornerback and should get Pro Bowl consideration if the Chargers stay in contention this season (as opposed to last season's 4-8 start).
What's most impressive about Jammer -- and least impressive about San Diego's defense -- is that Jammer is the best tackler on the team.