Chargers - Patriots: A look inside
By Scout.com Staff
The Chargers are looking at Sunday's date with the world champion Patriots as an opportunity, not a chore.
If somehow the Chargers could snap New England's 21-game home winning streak, it would mean more than just reaching .500 at 2-2.
"It is just one 'W' and we've got a lot of the season left," linebacker Ben Leber said. "But it's going to speak volumes for this team, this organization and for all our fans. It would be a huge win for our confidence and just for the city."
The Chargers know they let the first two games slip away, unable to hold leads against the Cowboys and Broncos. But they righted themselves Sunday night by pasting the New York Giants and now seem poised to at least be competitive against the Pats.
"We talk all the time that there are few opportunities you have in a football career where you have this type of opportunity to try and end their home winning streak, and do it with the team that we've got," Leber said. "You definitely have to seize the opportunity."
And in sizing up the Patriots, the Chargers are certain that they stack up. But beating them in their new stadium - where they are 25-3 - is another matter.
"We are much more confident," quarterback Drew Brees said, in comparing last year's Chargers team which also opened 1-2. "We've been through a lot more and we have had success and felt what that's like."
It's a feeling the Chargers want to experience again on Sunday. If they do, it would be a sensation well earned.
The Patriots haven't played a game yet without strong safety Rodney Harrison, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Pittsburgh last week. But they have played three games without inside linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson, and so far those two have not been missed as much as some observers had predicted.
Bruschi's and Johnson's replacements - free agent LBs Monty Beisel and Chad Brown - rank second and third, respectively, on the team in tackles. Although no one has replaced Bruschi's nose for takeaways, Beisel especially has kept the run defense strong. The Patriots rank sixth in that department, allowing an average of 91.7 yards per game.
That will come in handy this week with San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, the league's fifth-leading rusher, coming to town. Beisel is familiar with LT, having played against him twice a year when Beisel was with Kansas City.
Beisel started only nine games for the Chiefs in four seasons, but he looks entrenched in the New England lineup now. Beisel even seems to have passed Brown, a three-time Pro Bowler, on the depth chart. When the Patriots switch to a 4-3 look, it's Beisel, 27, not Brown, 35, who remains on the field in at middle linebacker.
"It's an ongoing (process)," Beisel said. "I think once you get to the point in the season where you're starting to game plan and doing things like that, it's ever-changing. I'm kind of at the same point as everybody else (now). I understand the base concepts of the system, both the 3-4 and the 4-3. Now it's just a matter of game planning and getting it right for Sunday."
--RB Amos Zereoue practiced with the team Thursday, one day after he signed to fill the void left by RB Kevin Faulk's foot injury. Faulk is expected to miss 6-8 weeks with a broken bone in his foot. He apparently was hurt making a 17-yard catch on the winning drive against the Steelers last week.
Faulk is the 10th-leading receiver in Patriots' history with 217 receptions for 1,935 yards and eight touchdowns. He had 13 catches this season, tying with WR Troy Brown for third place.
Zereoue, a seventh-year pro, is no slouch in the passing game, either. He had 42, 40 and 39 receptions the past three seasons with Pittsburgh and Oakland and owns three career 100-yard games.
Zereoue was not in training camp with any team, so his conditioning is a question mark.
"You can never really get in football shape unless you're playing football," he said. "I was doing some running, but as far as catching up with those guys, it's really tough right now."
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