By Dave Thomas
As most followers of the San Diego Chargers can tell you, they are never quite sure which team is going to show up week in and week out.
Some weeks it is the team that can play with the best of the NFL. Other weeks, however, it is the squad that plays down to its opponent, leaving it precariously hanging around in the AFC West standings.
Coming off of an impressive 19-9 home victory this past Monday evening over the Indianapolis Colts, the Chargers take their charter flight cross country for a Sunday afternoon (10:05 a.m. Pacific time) meeting with the 0-6 Jacksonville Jaguars. Again, which Charger team will show up?
With Monday’s win over the AFC South leading Colts, the Chargers evened their record at 3-3. That win was all the more important given that front-leading Denver and Kansas City are both 6-0 through the first six weeks of the season. Although the odds of coming back to win the division may seem slim for the Chargers and their faithful, the hopes of a wild card spot at worse certainly is there for the taking.
Can Jacksonville Win Its First Game?
As for this Sunday’s match up, the Chargers get a Jag squad that gave Denver a little more than it expected in last week’s 35-19 loss to the Broncos in the Mile High City.
The oddsmakers were so sure that Peyton Manning and the Broncos would roll to victory that they made Denver a nearly four-touchdown favorite. Heading into this weekend’s tilt, the Chargers are a 7.5-point favorite.
While Jacksonville has issues at a number of positions on the field, it still has a proven running back in Maurice Jones-Drew. Although the UCLA veteran may not have the quick step or big move that he use to have, he’s still a threat to break one each time he touches the ball. Coming into this game, Jones-Drew has rushed for 279 yards on 94 carries (two touchdowns).
Another area of needed concentration for San Diego’s defense this Sunday will be on wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
In the loss at Denver, Blackmon went off for 14 catches and 190 yards. To date, the Oklahoma State product has 19 catches this season for 326 yards.
Chargers Still Dealing With Some Bumps and Bruises
As they prepare for the Jags, the Chargers are still nursing some injuries.
Among the key players, linebacker Jarret Johnson (hamstring) saw limited action in practice this week, while fellow linebacker Donald Butler (groin), wide receiver/kick returner Eddie Royal (toe) and guard Chad Rinehart (toe) did not participate.
While you never want one of your starters out of the lineup, getting the aforementioned four players ready for Sunday would certainly help San Diego’s cause.
Johnson (19 tackles, three sacks so far in 2013) and Butler (31 tackles this season) provide leadership on the defensive side of the ball, Rinehart can help an already questionable offensive line, and Royal’s ability to catch passes out of the backfield and stretch the defense, along with being a threat on kick returns, give the Chargers a better chance to win.
Injury Report as of Oct. 17
- Linebacker Jarret Johnson (limited practice)
- Linebacker Donald Butler (did not practice)
- Corner back Johnny Patrick (full practice)
- Tackle D.J. Fluker (full practice)
- Wide receiver/kick returner Eddie Royal (did not practice)
- Guard Chad Rinehart (did not practice)
- Corner back Richard Marshall (full practice)
- Guard Jeromey Clary (full practice)
- Defensive end Corey Liuget (full practice)
- Running back Ronnie Brown (full practice)
- Corner back Shareece Wright (full practice)
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.