The Chargers are one of the most banged up teams in the league right now. Last week against the Raiders, they had to start an undrafted free agent at left tackle on an already weak offensive line because Jared Gaither is out indefinitely with back spasms. They were also without Vincent Brown, their top receiver in Training Camp, and Philip Rivers never looked comfortable throwing to Robert Meachem and Malcom Floyd, completing 24 of 33 for 231 yards and a score against an incredibly thin Oakland secondary.
Rivers isn’t helped by his offensive line’s deficiencies, though they did do a decent job in the opener of protecting him, as Rivers was pressured on just 10 of 34 drop backs, and he also isn’t helped by their inability to run the ball. Missing Ryan Mathews, who was supposed to be their everything back, the Chargers managed just 32 yards on 20 carries, led at running back by a duo of the washed up Ronnie Brown and the mediocre Curtis Brinkley.
Brown and Gaither will miss this week as well and are out indefinitely (Brown is out for at least 6 weeks), but Ryan Mathews has yet to be ruled out. Even still, it doesn’t sound promising for him. Reports have been varied, but trusted beat writer Michael Gehlken, of the Union-Tribune San Diego, who attends all practices and press conferences, believes Mathews will once again be inactive. At the very most, he’ll be a game time decision.
The Chargers also have two new injuries to worry about, Antonio Gates and Quentin Jammer, though both are expected to play. Gates has a rib problem that has caused him to miss some practice this week, but he normally plays through injuries, so expect him out there playing through the pain, good news for Rivers since he’s his most trusted target in a thin receiving corps. Jammer, meanwhile, has a broken hand, but is also expected to play through it, wearing a cast. Jammer, a declining player at age 33, had a nice opener, but a broken hand will hurt his ability to tackle and be physical with wide receivers, so the Titans could throw on him with some ease this week, especially if the aged corner proves last week was a fluke.
Jammer’s presence is necessary though, as nickel cornerback Shareece Wright will miss this week with an ankle problem, which would have left the inexperienced Marcus Gilchrist, a 2011 2nd round pick, to start and someone signed off the streets to man the nickel as the Chargers only carry 4 cornerbacks. Instead, Gilchrist will just take Wright’s spot in the slot, which isn’t a huge downgrade.
Still, with all these injuries and their history early in the season, it’s definitely possible they could be caught off guard and upset by the underrated Titans this week. If it wasn’t for an injury to the Raiders’ long snapper last week, they could have lost to a Raider team that I think is one of the worst in the league. That win reminded me of their 4-1 start last season. The Chargers were able to beat up on a cupcake schedule last year early, beating Minnesota by 7, Kansas City by 3, Miami by 10, and Denver (prebow) by 5. However, once they started playing real teams, things got a lot harder for them and they actually went on a 6 game losing streak. The Titans are a real team, so the Chargers have to be careful.