Collins: Don't overlook the Chargers' Defense

So much is being made of Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson and the rest of San Diego's offense that it's been easy to overlook the Chargers' defense. Not so fast, says Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins, who says Oakland's own offense must come through if the team is going to get its first winning streak since last September.

''They rush the passer really well (and) they are an attacking defense,'' Collins said Wednesday as the Raiders practiced after returning from the bye week. ''They have good outside linebackers that can really create problems with protections. They give up a play here and there but overall they are a very sound defense. We definitely have our work cut out for us.''

The Chargers defense is much like Oakland's in that they've both been strong against the run and very mediocre against the pass. San Diego is allowing only 93.8 yards a game and just 3.6 yards a carry, while the Raiders' defense counters with 99.3 and 3.4.

Offensively, Oakland is still trying to find a comfortable rhythm. The running game was virtually non-existent the first three weeks of the season before LaMont Jordan broke out for a career-highs of 126 yards and 26 carries in the win over Dallas.

That took some of the heat off Collins, who passed for 218 yards and extended his interception-less streak to a career-best 149 passes dating back to last season.

''We're going to need that (running game), especially against a team like this,'' Collins said. ''They rush the passer well and they more you can run, the better it does with the play-action game.''

Raiders head coach Norv Turner echoed Collins' sentiments, saying its paramount that Oakland establish the ground game against a San Diego team that is ranked seventh against the run and 21st overall.

''I'd like to see (Jordan) get 25 carries in the football game,'' Turner said. ''It would help us do the things we have to to win the game. That's keep the ball some. Obviously they're a very talented offensive football team but if we can get some run going it would help (Jerry) Porter and (Randy) Moss and the guys in the passing game.''


* The Chargers have won the last three games between the two teams. A win on Sunday would give San Diego it's first four-game winning streak over the Raiders since they swept the season series in 1961 and '62. The Chargers also won both games in 1960 but the franchise was located in Los Angeles at the time.

* Defensive tackle Warren Sapp was fined $7,500 by the NFL for a pair of hits on Dallas quarterback Drew Bledsoe during Oakland's 19-13 win on Oct. 2. Sapp was hit with a 15-yard personal foul penalty for one of the hits.

* Center Jake Grove, who had minor surgery on his right knee Oct. 3, did not practice Wednesday but Turner would not rule him out of the San Diego game just yet. ''He's made great progress and (team trainers) feel real good about where he's at but certainly he wouldn't have been able to practice today,'' Turner said. ''We'll see where he is by the end of the week.''

* Left guard Langston Walker was also held out of practice. According to Turner, Walker suffered a rib strain Monday during weight-lifting but is expected to return on Thursday.

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