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Here Comes Rivers, LT, and Gates Ready or Not!

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  1. csfoster

    csfoster Practice Squad Player

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    Here comes Rivers, ready or . . . what?

    By Jay Posner
    UNION TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

    January 9, 2007

    The question is not whether Philip Rivers will be ready for his first postseason start in the NFL. It's whether he will be too ready.

    Yesterday, for instance, the day after New England beat the New York Jets to earn a spot opposite the Chargers in Sunday's divisional playoff game at Qualcomm Stadium, Rivers joined some teammates in the weight room at Chargers Park.

    “He was talking about how after the New England game he was already ready to go,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. “So I'm thinking to myself, 'We've got a long way to go. We've got six days, Philip.' ”

    After he stopped laughing, Tomlinson continued.

    “It's good because he is excited to be (playing) in his first playoff game,” Tomlinson said. “But I think for us who played in the playoff game (two years ago when Rivers was the No. 3 quarterback), we've got to remind him that a fast horse runs fast but it don't run long.”

    Rivers figured to be in the spotlight this week regardless of the Chargers' opponent. Not only is it the nature of his position, but it's also his first postseason start, and he had more than one sub-par game late in the season.

    Everything changed, however, when the Patriots beat the Jets. Now Rivers finds himself matched against two of the best postseason performers in NFL history, New England coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

    Rivers was not available for comment yesterday, but tight end Antonio Gates said there's no reason for Chargers fans to be worried.

    “He's overcome that adversity (inexperience) coming into the season,” Gates said. “I'm expecting Philip to come out and have one of the best games of his career. . . . Everybody in the locker room believes that, 'Hey, this is our guy. He's going to lead us to a Super Bowl championship.' ”


    LT's new career?

    During Gates' meeting with reporters in the Chargers' media trailer, a familiar voice chimed in with a question.
    “Antonio, with you having success against this team, do you expect to be bracketed at all by the safety and corner and linebackers?”

    The questioner was Tomlinson, who was seated on one of the couches normally reserved for reporters (there are always exceptions). And he obviously had done his homework: Gates had six catches for 108 yards in the Chargers' 41-17 win last season at New England.

    Said Gates: “No, when you have LaDainian Tomlinson in the backfield, they tend to focus on him, and I try to do my part in getting open and taking some pressure off of him.”


    No homecoming

    This game could have matched Patriots linebacker Junior Seau and safety Rodney Harrison against the team that someday will induct them into its Hall of Fame, but both players are injured. Seau definitely won't play, and it's unlikely Harrison will because of a knee injury suffered in the season finale.
    Asked if he would have liked a reunion with his former teammates, Tomlinson didn't hesitate.

    “No,” he said. “No. Certainly Junior, happy I don't have to see him. Hopefully he'll get back well, but I don't want to see Junior. And Rodney, I don't know what his situation is, but it'd be great if he could throw us a bone there.”


    Injury report

    Coach Marty Schottenheimer said the Chargers expect every player to be ready to practice and play this week with the possible exception of defensive lineman Jacques Cesaire, who suffered a sprained knee in the season finale against Arizona. Schottenheimer said Cesaire would be listed as questionable.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2007

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