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Tag:Antonio Gates
Posted on: November 28, 2010 11:42 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2010 5:27 am
 

Chargers converting to complete contender

Posted by Will Brinson

Philip Rivers didn't post raw "MVP numbers" on Sunday night as San Diego manhandled Indianapolis on the road .

But he didn't need to -- the Chargers played like a complete team from start to finish and, despite sitting at 6-5, took on the appearance of an elite team in the NFL.

It warrants mentioning that they've historically dominated the Colts and Peyton Manning in recent years -- any number of statistical comparison will show you how much worse Manning is against the Bolts than the rest of the league. And things can change quickly -- after all, it's been the rare occasion this year when we've been able to name someone "elite."

But the Chargers, having made the necessary changes to put veterans on the special teams unit to fix their one really problematic area, look like they're getting there, even if they can't explain why they get so hot so quickly after a slow start to the season.

"I don't know, but hopefully we can keep it going -- we got it going good right now" Rivers said after the game. "When you talk about a team win, this is just what it was. We got turnovers on defeense, we didn't turn it over on offense, we covered kicks and we didn't get kicks blocked, and when you do that, most of the time you're going to win."

That seems blasé, but it's true -- don't make mistakes and you'll win football games.

On the hand, in Manning's case, if you lob up a 31/48, 285-yard, two TD and four interception line for the evening, things might not go so well. Those stats didn't lie on Sunday night, and they provide direct evidence of a quarterback who was consistently flustered by a Chargers defense that dominated the Colts at the line of scrimmage, refused to allow Indy to run, snuffed out screen passes and generally looked more prepared than their opponent.

That's not all Peyton's fault, because the Colts simply can't run, and they knew that going in. San Diego has a stupendous defense, and Indy, with 24 rushing yards on 13 carries, didn't ever really bother trying to establish a ground game.

For Rivers, however, the stats are a bit deceiving -- he was helped by a defense that took two interceptions to the house and a special teams unit that was on point, something that troubled them earlier in the year. All that while dealing with a still-injured Antonio Gates and a re-sidelined (this time for a calf injury) Vincent Jackson.

But he was efficient as hell, going 19/23 for 185 yards, throwing short passes when Indy tightened up over the top, and allowing the ground game to turn what seemed like a shootout into a grinder of a game.

"It turned into that," Rivers said "We found out early on they weren't going to let us throw it over their head. I threw as many checkdowns tonight as I have in a long time."

The weird thing, though, is that most people who watched this game understand that Rivers not forcing passes and picking up a huge road win in whatever way it took is the real sign of an MVP. Yeah, he might not catch Dan Marino for the single-season passing record now, but if the Chargers keep developing like they have over the past four weeks, there's a pretty good chance he'll have a chance to catch him in total Super Bowl rings.

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Posted on: November 27, 2010 10:40 pm
 

Week 12 injury news and analysis, part IV

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Rams at Broncos

Denver LB D.J. Williams, who’s not had such a great past few weeks, is questionable to play with a concussion. Following his arrest on a DUI charge two weeks ago, he was knocked out of Monday’s game after a blow to the head. But he returned to practice two days later, so it looks like he’ll probably play. LB Robert Ayers is probable to play.

Three of the four St. Louis players on the injury list are probable. That leaves only WR Danario Alexander as questionable. Apparently, he had a great practice Wednesday, and it looks like he’s ready to make his first game appearance since Oct. 24.

Chargers at Colts


The biggest star for San Diego, TE Antonio Gates, is questionable with plantar fasciitis, but it seems highly unlikely he’ll play, because he’s still in a significant amount of pain. WR Malcom Floyd is questionable with a hamstring problem, but Chargers QB Philip Rivers will be happy to welcome back WR Vincent Jackson to the team. Also, WR Legedu Naanee, who hasn’t played since Oct. 3, is probable.

The Colts list seven players as questionable. Since TE Brody Eldridge, LB Gary Brackett and LB Clint Session didn’t practice all week, we’ll just assume those three won’t play.

49ers at Cardinals


K Joe Nedney is doubtful with a knee injury, and he’ll likely miss his second-straight game. San Francisco signed Shane Andrus to replace him Nov. 17, but since the 49ers were shut out last week, he wasn’t needed. It’s likely that won’t happen two games in a row.

For Arizona, DE Calais Campbell is questionable with a bad ankle, and he’ll be a gametime decision for Monday Night Football. Though LB Clark Haggans hasn’t played since Week 7 and is questionable, it sounds like he’ll be ready to play. As will RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, who also is questionable and very well could play.

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Posted on: November 27, 2010 8:58 pm
 

Hot Routes 11.27.10: Raiders fool us all



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

- So, it’s looking like Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski will get the start this week in place of Jason Campbell. Which isn’t what we expected yesterday.

- Rams RB Steven Jackson has been using an altitude tent this week in preparation for facing the Broncos in Denver. Meanwhile, St. Louis CB Ronald Bartell tried his twice, and he’s not going to use it ever again. Read this St. Louis Post Dispatch story to find out why (ahem, he might have got himself stuck inside).

- It might not be rocket science, but Titans QB Rusty Smith likely will look to pass more to WR Randy Moss than his predecessors. Before they got injured, Vince Young and Kerry Collins targeted Moss a combined total of four times, and last week, Young looked his way just once. When Smith entered the game, by the way, he tried throwing to Moss three times.

- Watching the Chargers-Broncos game last week, I was struck by how often Denver QB Kyle Orton threw toward the receiver who was being covered by San Diego rookie CB Antoine Cason. And I was struck by how well Cason played. In actuality, Cason has been pretty good most of the season.

- What will happen to Tarvaris Jackson now? Maybe he should just get the hell out of Dodge.

- Once again, nobody has any idea if Antonio Gates’ foot will allow him to play this weekend. Plantar fasciitis sounds less than fun.

- Jake Delhomme will start Sunday for the Browns when he takes on his old team, the Panthers. But he understands who Cleveland’s quarterback of the future is. His name is Colt McCoy.

- Jimmy Clausen will start at QB this Sunday for the Panthers. Who backs him up is a little more complicated.

- The Redskins today waived WR Joey Galloway. In many fans' views, it's about freakin' time .

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Posted on: November 26, 2010 1:03 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2010 1:41 pm
 

Antonio Gates likely to miss Week 12 too?

Posted by Will Brinson

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Philip Rivers' season so far has been that, at times, he's had success through the air without the assistance of Antonio Gates.

He might be without his favorite target in Week 12, as well -- Gates is practicing, but according to the North County Times , not likely to play after a Thursday practice that had him "grimacing" "in extreme pain" afterwards.

"I wanted to see how I would respond to defenders being in the way and making unexpected cuts in the flow of a route," Gates said. "Everything has been controlled to this point. I didn't finish, but I'm incredibly sore."

In other words, don't expect to see him Sunday night against the Colts. Clearly, Rivers and Norv Turner would prefer to have him on the field, but it's pretty important that he heal from the injury if the Bolts hope to make a run deep into the postseason.

"Last week, I didn't respond well," Gates said. "I did this kind of running last week and then I couldn't go for two days. I couldn't even walk on a treadmill. I don't know what my response is going to be, but I feel like I'm making progress because I was able to double up on my activity. But it's so painful, and I have to figure out if I can play through that."

Vincent Jackson's return to the lineup is critical , especially because of the injury to Patrick Crayton, and will help lessen the likely continued loss of Gates.

And while San Diego would clearly like to have their All-World tight end back before their marquee matchup this weekend, there's no question that getting him healthy is the most important priority, considering just how much of a division advantage their weak schedule is the rest of the way.

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Posted on: November 23, 2010 7:42 pm
 

Analysis: Chargers need V-Jax's services

V. Jackson will return this week, and San Diego really needs him (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Chargers officially added WR Vincent Jackson to its roster today (and, in the process, released K Kris Brown), so it’s time to figure out what this means for San Diego.

Obviously, his inclusion will help the Chargers. Or, at least, it should.

QB Philip Rivers has been awesome this year – he’s on pace to break Dan Marino’s record for most passing yards in a season – and as a result, the Chargers average 418.2 yards per game, tops in the NFL. San Diego, by the way, ranks 17th in the running game, so the fact the Chargers are No. 1 overall is an impressive accomplishment for Rivers (and TE Antonio Gates).

Let’s assume for a second that Jackson will perform somewhat close to what he’s provided on the field in previous seasons.

The past two years he’s averaged 63.5 catches for 1,132.5 yards and eight touchdowns – that equals four catches, 73 yards and 0.5 TDs per game, respectively – and if he can provide his team that kind of production, the Chargers offense will get even better.

For now, Jackson will have to be as good as advertised.

WR Patrick Crayton, who’s having one of the best seasons of his career, will be out for the next couple weeks because of the wrist injury he suffered Monday, WR Malcom Floyd is still dealing with a hamstring issue that’s affecting his playing time and WR Legedu Naanee can’t kick his hamstring problem. Plus, Gates’ plantar fasciitis continues to hamper him.

The other question, though, is whether Jackson can perform at the same level after not playing all season because of that nasty contract dispute. According to teammates, he’s practiced at a very high level for the past three weeks, and judging by Sidney Rice’s performance last week (three catches, 57 yards), it’s possible for a WR who hasn’t played all year to be effective after missing 10 games (or, in Rice’s case, nine games).

At this point, though, Jackson’s effectiveness has become a need instead of simply a nice addition for a Chargers team who, once again, is thinking about the postseason. And Jackson will get his chance to prove he's worth the extraordinary amount of money that he feels he deserves.

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Posted on: November 23, 2010 12:20 pm
 

Pro Bowl Voting: Peyton leads, Vick follows

Posted by Will Brinson

The initial Pro Bowl vote-counting is all taken care of and, you'll never believe this, but Peyton Manning is really, really popular.

How do I know? Well, 496,658 people have voted for him thus far, making him the No. 1 overall leader in the race to a free vacation to Hawaii.

More interestingly is that Michael Vick, who did lots of mean things to lots of dogs and therefore isn't always popular with everyone, is second overall, and the top NFC vote-getter.

Following Vick are Adrian Peterson of the Vikings, Tom Brady of the Patriots, Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, Drew Brees of the Saints, and Philip Rivers of the Chargers.

Chris Johnson (Titans), Arian Foster (Texans) and Antonio Gates (Chargers) round out the top 10.

Rivers having the most ridiculous offensive season in a while -- at least to this point -- and somehow only being the third ranked quarterback in the AFC should tell you all you need to know about this voting. (Fans, by the way, can vote up to December 20th by going to NFL.com/ProBowl and casting their ballots. Apparently you can access it via your phone, too, if it's smart enough.)

Back to the balloting, though -- it's just frustrating when fans vote for names they know. It's cool and everything that fans get a say (they should!), but this happens in every sport. It's why Yao Ming is always an All-Star, it's why Derek Jeter is always an All-Star, and it's why Ed Reed is the top AFC vote-getter at free safety, even though he's only been active for a few weeks.

But, hey, it's fun, and that's all that matters. Plus, the NFL is smart enough to split the votes between the players, coaches and fans, rather than leave the entirety of the voting up to the masses.

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Posted on: November 23, 2010 12:20 pm
 

Pro Bowl Voting: Peyton leads, Vick follows

Posted by Will Brinson

The initial Pro Bowl vote-counting is all taken care of and, you'll never believe this, but Peyton Manning is really, really popular.

How do I know? Well, 496,658 people have voted for him thus far, making him the No. 1 overall leader in the race to a free vacation to Hawaii.

More interestingly is that Michael Vick, who did lots of mean things to lots of dogs and therefore isn't always popular with everyone, is second overall, and the top NFC vote-getter.

Following Vick are Adrian Peterson of the Vikings, Tom Brady of the Patriots, Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, Drew Brees of the Saints, and Philip Rivers of the Chargers.

Chris Johnson (Titans), Arian Foster (Texans) and Antonio Gates (Chargers) round out the top 10.

Rivers having the most ridiculous offensive season in a while -- at least to this point -- and somehow only being the third ranked quarterback in the AFC should tell you all you need to know about this voting. (Fans, by the way, can vote up to December 20th by going to NFL.com/ProBowl and casting their ballots. Apparently you can access it via your phone, too, if it's smart enough.)

Back to the balloting, though -- it's just frustrating when fans vote for names they know. It's cool and everything that fans get a say (they should!), but this happens in every sport. It's why Yao Ming is always an All-Star, it's why Derek Jeter is always an All-Star, and it's why Ed Reed is the top AFC vote-getter at free safety, even though he's only been active for a few weeks.

But, hey, it's fun, and that's all that matters. Plus, the NFL is smart enough to split the votes between the players, coaches and fans, rather than leave the entirety of the voting up to the masses.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 23, 2010 12:43 am
Edited on: November 23, 2010 8:16 am
 

Turner is the reason for SD's turnaround

M. Tolbert had a big game for San Diego as it defeated Denver 35-14 (Getty).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The San Diego Chargers are going to win the AFC West again.

That much seems clear after watching San Diego dominate the Broncos 35-14 tonight. Although Denver scored on what was an easy game-opening drive, this game was almost never in doubt. For a team that lost five of its first seven games this year, the Chargers once again are the class of the division.

And it’s not like other teams haven’t had a chance to bury the Chargers early in the season.

The Chiefs played well early, starting out 5-2, but they’ve lost two of their last three – including a 49-29 decision defeat to Denver – and are barely hanging onto first place (the Chargers and Chiefs will play again Dec. 12). The Raiders have exceeded expectations while shuffling two quarterbacks in and out of the game seemingly every week, but they’re still only 5-5 (and tied with San Diego for second place in the West). And Denver … well, you can forget about the Broncos.

So, what’s changed?

Philip Rivers has been fantastic all season – he’s now thrown for 3,177 yards (and he’s still on pace to break the season mark for passing yards), 23 touchdowns and just eight interceptions – and he’s perhaps the No. 1 MVP candidate at this point in the season.

But first-round pick RB Ryan Mathews still hasn’t played that much. The special teams have been downright awful. And the underachieving Norv Turner is still the head coach of the club.

Yet, in place of Mathews, Mike Tolbert has been more than solid as the No. 1 RB (tonight, he rushed for 111 yards and a score). Though the Chargers have played without top-flight WR Vincent Jackson – who will return next week – all season and TE extraordinaire Antonio Gates the past two games, Patrick Crayton has been productive (105 receiving yards and a TD tonight) and RB Darren Sproles has done well catching passes out of the backfield.

And the defense, mind you, has been really good, leading the NFL by allowing 270.7 total yards per game and recording a league-high 32 sacks (coming into tonight's game).

But perhaps the biggest reason for the turnaround? Turner himself. As you might be aware, Turner isn’t exactly the fiery, motivating-type coach. But when San Diego fell behind 19-14 to Tennessee at halftime in Week 8, Turner gave a teary-eyed halftime speech that inspired San Diego to turn that five-point halftime deficit into a 33-25 victory.

That carryover has led to a three-game winning streak, including the Chargers’ most complete game of the season tonight.

“When I saw Norv crying, I knew it was real,” Gates told a radio station after the Chargers beat the Titans. “This means the world to him. That spoke volumes and it worked. Not to say that guys didn’t believe up to that point, but I think he made himself clear.”

Now, the Chargers are making it clear to everybody else in the division. The AFC West title is for San Diego, and nobody else will take it from the suddenly-resurgent Chargers.

And yeah, Turner, once again, will be on the hot seat if the Chargers don’t make a playoff run, but still, he deserves plenty of credit for his team’s turnaround.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com