By Dave Thomas
As the San Diego Chargers look to rebound from what was last Sunday’s train wreck versus the Atlanta Falcons, all eyes are focused in on the AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs in practice this week.
They had better be, as the Chiefs regained some life in the 2012 season last weekend with an overtime win on the road at New Orleans. As a result, Kansas City sits tied with both Oakland and Denver at 1-2 in the division, while the Chargers hold a slim one game lead over the trio at 2-1.
Given last year’s road debacle at Arrowhead Stadium (23-20 OT loss), a game the Chargers seemingly were about to win on a late field goal before they turned the ball over, San Diego knows that winning games within its division will be crucial this year.
With all four AFC West teams seemingly on relative equal footing, it could come down to who has the better divisional record that wins the title at the end of the season. In the 2011 campaign, Denver squeaked out a division crown by going 9-7, while the other three finished at 8-8.
When the Chargers head into the nation’s heartland for Sunday’s game, it remains to be seen how much playing time starting running back Ryan Mathews will see.
Trailing the Falcons 6-0 in the second quarter last Sunday, Mathews had a key fumble at the Atlanta 4 yard line that swung the game, removing whatever momentum the Bolts had up to that point. For Mathews, it was his 11th fumble in 27 career games with the Chargers.
Earlier this week, San Diego head coach Norv Turner noted that Mathews may not be the primary ball handler in key situations for the Chargers, meaning fans may see either Curtis Brinkley or former Chief Jackie Battle get the rock in prime spots.
Gaither Seeing Action In Practice
On the injury front, the Chargers announced on Wednesday that cornerbacks Quentin Jammer (hand) and Shareece Wright (foot) sat out practice, while offensive tackle Jared Gaither (back) did see some limited action this week.
Gaither has not seen any action since back spasm sidelined him during July’s training camp. Getting another healthy offensive lineman in action to help protect QB Philip Rivers would certainly help the Bolts.
Floyd Signs Contract Extension
Lastly, the Chargers reported that they have inked wide receiver Malcom Floyd to an extension through 2015.
The seventh-year pro out of Wyoming has been expected to take on a bigger role catching balls this season, especially in light of former Charger Vincent Jackson signing an offseason deal with Tampa Bay.
For his career, Floyd has 190 receptions for 3,397 yards and 21 TD’s. In San Diego’s rout of Tennessee two weeks ago, Floyd had six catches for 109 yards to help lead the way.
With the Chargers in need of a win this Sunday, something that would allow them to get last Sunday’s debacle versus Atlanta out of their mouths, time will tell if this will be a season to remember or a season to forget.
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Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.