By Dave Thomas
Last year’s home opener versus Minnesota produced a win, but place kicker Nate Kaeding’s season-ending injury suffered on the opening kickoff left the San Diego Chargers in a bit of a down mood.
The Bolts hope this Sunday’s home opener versus the Tennessee Titans also produces a victory, while allowing the team to escape the injury bug.
After scoring their eighth win in their last nine attempts in Oakland this past Monday evening (22-14), the Chargers spend the next two Sundays at home (Atlanta on Sept. 23) prior to embarking on a part of their schedule where they only have one other home game between Sept. 24 and Nov. 1.
The Titans come to town fresh-off a 34-13 loss at home last Sunday to the New England Patriots, a team once again expected to contend for a Super Bowl crown. Tennessee, meanwhile, is not even picked first in the AFC South (Houston).
San Diego Has Won Seven Straight In Series
For the Titans, losers of seven straight to the Chargers (San Diego’s last loss in the series was to the Houston Oilers in 1992), running back Chris Johnson will need to step up his game no matter who is at quarterback.
Johnson, one of the league’s top runners in recent years, was held to a mere four yards rushing on 11 carries last Sunday in Nashville, a career low for the team’s top player. As a team, Tennessee could only bang out 20 yards on the ground.
“We all know that the running game has to get better,” Tennessee head coach Mike Munchak told the media during the week. “We’re not denying it. We’re not trying to act like, ‘Hey, we’re OK.’ We’re not.”
Starting quarterback Jake Locker was dinged up (non-throwing shoulder) last week versus the Patriots, but will reportedly play Sunday. If Locker is not good to go, veteran Matt Hasselbeck will get the nod. Locker, who led the team with 11 yards rushing in the opener, finished the passing game going 23-of-32 for 229 yards (1 TD, 1 INT).
Whichever Titan is at quarterback, they will have the option of turning to wide receiver Kenny Britt, sidelined after a serious knee injury in third game of the 2011 campaign. Britt returns from his one-game NFL suspension handed down following a DUI arrest July 20.
Meantime, the Chargers were granted a 24-hour extension to sell enough tickets to lift the local television blackout of Sunday’s game, set to kick off at 1:25 p.m. local time.
San Diego has until 1:25 p.m. PT Friday to sell some 2,100 general tickets. Several hundred club seats also are available.
If the blackout is lifted, the game will be seen in San Diego on KFMB-TV, Channel 8 and in Los Angeles and Orange County on KCBS-TV, Channel 2. Ian Eagle and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts will call the action for CBS Sports.
The Chargers, who lead the all-time series versus Tennessee/Houston 25-16-1, will also honor the late Junior Seau before the game by retiring his number 55 jersey.
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Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.