By Dave Thomas
With their bye week in the rear view mirror, the San Diego Chargers were back on the practice field Wednesday, hoping to leave a pair of bitter defeats behind them as they prepare to head to Northern Ohio.
Picked as a slight favorite for Sunday’s game in Cleveland against the Browns, the Chargers look to run the table over the next three games against teams (Browns, Chiefs, Buccaneers) sporting a combined 4-15 record. Simply stated, not winning these three games could put a major crimp in San Diego’s hopes of winning the AFC West title two months from now.
As coaches and players often preach, first thing’s first. Yes, while the Browns have a terrible record at 1-6, everyone knows that anything can happen on any given Sunday, so this club should not be taken lightly.
With their return to the practice, the Chargers are looking to put a game plan in place where they not only don’t have a second half collapse, but enter and leave Cleveland with a confident Philip Rivers at the helm.
In the 35-24 loss to Denver a week ago Monday, Rivers’ confidence had to have been all but shattered by six turnovers (four INT’s, two fumbles) on the night. Even the staunchest defenders of the veteran QB had to shake their heads and wonder if he really can take the team to the promise land at some point down the road.
“When you lose, it’s rough, especially in a game where you had a big lead and so much at stake,” Rivers told the Associated Press.
Rough as it may be, the Bolts need to turn things around quickly, as the schedule does toughen after the upcoming three-game stretch.
Once the Chargers leave Tampa after their Nov. 11 game, they then face Denver (road), Baltimore (home), Cincinnati (home), and Pittsburgh (away) over a four week stretch of games.
As the Bolts prep for the struggling Browns, they hope the time off for the bye means getting some injured bodies back in the fold.
Offensive lineman Jared Gaither was back in practice after missing time with an injured groin, while cornerback Shareece Wright hopes to be ready to go after missing yet another game a week ago Monday. Wright, who suffered a foot injury in the opening-season win at Oakland, had hoped to be ready for Denver but was not.
Browns Will Not Be A Pushover
While a win over Cleveland would seem close to a lock, the Cincinnati Bengals probably thought the same thing a couple of weeks ago when they traveled there and lost, giving the Browns their first win of the season.
With Cleveland first-round pick Trent Richardson (running back) apparently healthy once again, it will be interesting to see if the former Alabama star can test the Chargers’ stiff run defense. Richardson, who has rushed for 348 yards and four TD’s to date this season, faces a San Diego run defense that is tops in the NFL against the run. allowing a mere 71.2 yards per game.
Meantime, San Diego is working this week with new receiver Danario Alexander, with hopes of having him ready to go at Cleveland.
With disappointing performances so far this season from wide receivers Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal, Alexander may turn out to be a good alternative should top receiver Malcom Floyd get doubled in coverage.
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Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.