By Dave Thomas
For the San Diego Chargers, the key this weekend on their trip to Oakland is not to stub their toes.
Riding a four-game winning streak, the Bolts look to leave the Bay Area with a win over one of their most hated rivals. If they don’t, all the wins up to now may be an after thought, especially with upcoming games against Kansas City (Oct. 19) and at Denver (Oct. 23) within the span of less than a week.
While the wins have certainly pleased both the Bolts and their fans, the injury bug has been creeping up on a team that made the playoffs last season for the first time in four years. With that taste of post-season action, the Chargers are looking to carry that experience further in 2014, hopefully getting a return trip to Glendale, Arizona in February (lost at Arizona in the season opener) for the Super Bowl.
Rivers, Oliver Shine In Week 5 Victory
With a number of offensive components sitting out (most notably running backs Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead) for several weeks now, the Chargers have had to rely on veteran quarterback Philip Rivers to once again carry the load. Injuries at the center position (third-string center Doug Legursky was carted off the field last weekend) have also kept Rivers and the offense on their heals.
As the Chargers await to find out when Mathews (knee injury) can return, they have been leaning on backs Donald Brown and Branden Oliver to carry the pigskin. In the win last Sunday over the Jets, Brown went out early in the game with a concussion, leaving Oliver to carry the load.
So, how would the youngster handle the task in front of him?
All Oliver did on the day was run for 119 yards on 14 carries (one touchdown) and catch four passes for 68 yards and a score.
Now, part of Oliver’s success is due to the fact that the Darren Sproles lookalike is not all that well known by opposing defenses. While the talent level is certainly there on his part, being a bit of a mystery to the opposition certainly does not hurt either.
As for Sunday’s meeting with the Raiders, the Chargers will need to focus in on the game like it is a playoff contest.
Anything less could very well lead to an Oakland upset, derailing all the momentum San Diego has built up over the last month. And if you think the Raiders will be a walk in the park, just go back a season ago when San Diego headed north in a game many expected to be rather easy. The Chargers left Oakland with a 27-17 loss.
When they tackle the Raiders, the Bolts will be looking to have some relative healthy bodies on the field, as this week’s injury report was highlighted by the fact that tackle D.J. Fluker, linebacker Manti Te’o and corner Shareece Wright were among the notables missing practice on Thursday as a result of injuries.
Fluker was seen hobbling on the sidelines later in last Sunday’s win over the Jets due to an ankle injury, while Wright continues dealing with a knee injury. Te’o, who played the first several games of the season, was inactive last Sunday as he battles a continuing foot issue.
Injury Report as of Thursday:
Keenan Allen (wide receiver) – quad – limited practice
Jerry Attaochu (outside linebacker) – hamstring – limited practice
Donald Brown (running back) – concussion – did not practice
Donald Butler (inside linebacker) – shoulder – full practice
Malcom Floyd (wide receiver) – calf – limited practice
D.J. Fluker (tackle) – ankle – did not practice
Dwight Freeney (outside linebacker) – knee – did not practice
Jarret Johnson (outside linebacker) – back/ankle – limited practice
David Johnson (tight end) – knee/shoulder – full practice
Codarro Law (outside linebacker) ankle – limited practice
Ryan Mathews (running back) – knee – did not practice
Rich Ohrnberger (center/guard) – back – full practice
Darrell Stuckey (safety) – quad – limited practice
Manti Te’o (inside linebacker) – foot – did not practice
Reggie Walker (linebacker) – ankle – limited practice
Shareece Wright (corner) – knee – did not 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.