By Dave Thomas
The San Diego Chargers will not have all hands on deck when they set sail for their non-conference match up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in Florida.
The Chargers announced on Friday that offensive lineman Jared Gaither, and defenders Corey Liuget and Demorrio Williams are deemed questionable for the contest.
Gaither, who has not been at full strength all season, is battling a groin injury which limited his participation in practice on Wednesday. A key blocker in protecting quarterback Philip Rivers, Gaither was held out of practice at the end of the week.
Meantime, Liuget was also kept on the same regimen as Gaither, as he battles a hamstring injury, while Williams had limited practice the full week following an abdominal injury in the win over Kansas City a week ago Thursday.
A host of players are dealing with smaller injury issues and were tabbed as probable for Sunday, including Atari Bigby, Shaun Phillips and Chris Carr on defense; with Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal on the offensive side of the ball.
Both Meachem and Royal, who have not lived up to their billing since coming over to the Chargers in the off-season from New Orleans and Denver, respectively, are battling hamstring injuries. Bigby and Carr are dealing with quad injuries at the halfway point of the season.
Sunday’s game could go a long way in defining the second half of the season for the Bolts, a season that so far has once again led to calls of underachieving.
After the trip to Florida, the Chargers face three tough AFC opponents in the Broncos, Ravens and Bengals. A loss in Tampa Bay could set the stage for a rough November and early December, a stretch that could mean making the playoffs or not.
Along with some physical injuries that the Bolts are dealing with, getting healthy mentally is also key.
For anyone who watches this team, you can still see periods of doubt and lacking of confidence, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
While Tampa Bay’s defense is by no means the worst in the NFL, Rivers and Co. getting healthy mentally at the right time could help boost the Chargers into the rough weeks ahead.
With a solid win against the Bucs, the Chargers could go into next weekend’s showdown in Denver with the first-place Broncos feeling a lot better about themselves.
After last month’s demoralizing 35-24 loss to Denver on national television, a win this weekend and one next in the Mile High City may turn around the Chargers, plus give head coach Norv Turner a reason to feel optimistic about keeping his job after this season.
For Tampa Bay, not only is it looking to enhance its chances of an NFC wild card spot, a win over the Chargers would make it 3-0 against the AFC West this season, with a trip remaining to Denver on Dec. 2.
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Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.