By Dave Thomas
Coming off of their season-opening win in Oakland this past Monday evening, the San Diego Chargers may once again be tackling the issue of not being entirely healthy when they take the home field Sunday versus Tennessee.
While starting running back Ryan Mathews has been sidelined since breaking his clavicle in the preseason opener versus Green Bay just over a month ago, word comes that Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates is not 100 percent for the match up with the Titans.
Gates, who is just three receptions short of his 600th career catch, has been dealing with a bruised rib that he received versus the Raiders. Despite the second half injury Monday evening, Gates did return to the game and make some catches in the win.
Mathews Getting Closer to Return
Meantime, Mathews was back on the practice field this week, but under the very watchful eye of management and medical staff. The last thing the Bolts want to do is rush the third-year back from Fresno State back onto the playing field before he’s truly ready to go.
If Mathews doesn’t see action this Sunday, he could play a week later when the Atlanta Falcons come to town.
“We list them as what they are,” San Diego head coach Norv Turner told Chargers.com. “Obviously Antonio played last week and he’s probably more ready to go play. Ryan ran around good today and is looking good, so we’ll just decide on Sunday what we’re going to do.”
According to the team, definitely out for Sunday’s game will be left tackle Jared Gaither, sidelined with back spasms dating back to July’s training camp, along with cornerback Shareece Wright, who is battling a sprained ankle. Fellow cornerback Quentin Jammer, dinged up in the win over Oakland, is expected to play despite an injured thumb.
Just who Jammer and the other San Diego defenders will face at quarterback for the Titans remained up in the air going into the weekend.
Starting QB Jake Locker was injured last Sunday in the home loss to New England, meaning veteran Matt Hasselbeck could get the call this weekend.
Locker did practice with the Titans this week despite injuring his non-throwing shoulder against the Patriots while trying to make a stop on a fumble.
Locker told the local media in Tennessee earlier in the week that he “definitely” expects to be under center in his second career start when the Titans come calling Sunday.
No matter who does and does not play Sunday, fans in Southern California will be able to catch the game on their local CBS channel, as the Chargers were able to sell enough remaining tickets Friday to avoid a blackout.
The Chargers were given a 24-hour extension on Thursday to sell some 2,100 tickets in order to avert the blackout, which would have meant no local coverage from San Diego to Los Angeles.
San Diego had home games blacked out last season versus Arizona and Miami.
The Chargers have not yet announced if next Sunday’s home game with Atlanta will also be a potential blackout game.
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Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.