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Turner praises Gaither
SAN DIEGO – Jared Gaither hasn’t single-handedly accounted for the uptick on offense the last two games; back-to-back comfortable victories.
But to hear Head Coach Norv Turner tell it, the Chargers would not be playing this well without Gaither. The 6-foot-9, 340-pound behemoth allows the entire right side of the line to stay intact and keeps Tyronne Green, arguably the team’s most trusted backup, at left guard, where he’s spent the most time this season. Turner emphasized just how important that has been.
“Getting the continuity in that group, I think it’s helped our entire football team,” Turner said. “It’s had an impact on Philip (Rivers). It’s had an impact on Ryan Mathews. It’s had an impact on our defense.
“We’ve run the ball in the last two games because of the continuity. I don’t think we’ve been put in as many negative situations, so we’ve certainly not turned the ball over and I think we’ve helped ourselves defensively because when you score points you’re able to take advantage of some things that maybe you can’t otherwise.”
Green now has five starts at left guard since replacing Kris Dielman (Reserve-Injured), but missed two games with a hand injury.
“He’s not going to go in there and be Kris Dielman but he’s played at a high level and I thought he played better yesterday than he did against Jacksonville,” Turner said. “That’s encouraging. The more reps you get, the better you should play.”
San Diego’s numbers in the two games since Green and Gaither have occupied the left side of the line in place of Dielman and Marcus McNeill (also on Reserve-Injured) are impressive:
• Seventy-five points.
• One turnover against four takeaways.
• Philip Rivers: 46-of-61, 534 yards, six touchdowns, zero interceptions.
• Antonio Gates: 13 catches, 138 yards, two touchdowns.
• Ryan Mathews: 226 rushing yards on 6.8 yards per carry, nine catches on nine targets.
“Jared Gaither, I gave him a game ball,” Turner said. “I did it based on what we’ve done offensively and the offensive line. When you watch the tape, he was deserving of a game ball. He played at a real high level. I don’t know where we’d be if we’d not (gotten) Gaither (three) weeks ago.”
The presence of Shaun Phillips for a third consecutive game has a similar carry-over effect on defense, where Travis LaBoy had the best game of his Chargers career, more effective while playing fewer snaps. Antwan Barnes, also getting more rest, made his seventh sack of the season.
ROSTER UPDATE: The Chargers entered Sunday’s game with 52 players on its roster after releasing Ikechuku Ndukwe last week.
The extra slot didn’t mean much for the game – teams are allowed to activate just 46 on game days – but San Diego expects to add a 53rd player before the first practice of the week Wednesday, likely someone on the practice squad, Turner said.
Turner also indicated the team will plan to play without Jacques Cesaire (ankle), who was carted off the field Sunday against Buffalo, though Cesaire isn’t a definite scratch for the Baltimore game yet.
Darrell Stuckey (groin) missed his second game of the season Sunday against the Bills, and Turner decided to leave third running back Curtis Brinkley inactive to provide extra insurance in the attempt to replace Stuckey, a key special teams player. Stuckey and Brinkley are likely to be active this week, Turner said.