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Ricky Henne Fan MailBag: What to Watch For
Q: It's Mike Willie time!!!! How many touchdowns you think he gets this week? – Adam Zynthoria
A: I understand a lot of fans are excited about Willie after his strong preseason, but I would temper your excitement quite a bit. Head coach Norv Turner intimated that both Willie and Edwin Baker would not have much of a role Sunday, and that’s if they are even active at all. Still, it’s certainly a feel good story to see both guys rewarded for their hard work on the practice squad all year with a call-up to the 53-man roster.
Q: I have been a Chargers fan all my life, and I cannot think of us getting rid of Philip Rivers. Do you think Philip Rivers will be our quarterback next year? I think he just needs an O line. – Tommy Roback
A: I would never make any guarantee about the future in sports, but I feel very safe saying I fully expect Philip Rivers will remain the quarterback for the Chargers. As I’ve mentioned in previous weeks, Rivers is still a franchise quarterback and one of the best in the game. When you look at the offensive line issues this year and the amount of injuries the unit’s had to deal with, as well as injuries and a lack of consistency by many of his wide receivers and tight ends, it’s no surprise that he has struggled in 2012. I’d expect the team to address the offensive line and even the wide receiver position in free agency and the draft to help out Rivers in 2013.
Q: What can I look forward to watching now that the Chargers are eliminated? – Bobby Caldrone
A: There are a lot of reasons to watch the remaining two games even though the team can’t make the postseason. The first one that pops into my head is to watch the rookies. Brandon Taylor looks like he will get the chance to start the last couple games, so it will be interesting to see if he lays an early claim to the starting strong safety spot next season. Then there is also Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes, who will get even more playing time due to injuries on defense. Yet another reason to watch these last two games is to see how players coming back from injury hold up. For instance, Donald Butler was having a great season until he got hurt on Nov. 25 against the Ravens. I want to see how he performs coming back from his injury. Which leads me to our next question…
Q: Since we can’t get into the playoffs, why are we rushing players back on the field for Sunday’s game? – Frank Willow
A: No player is rushing back. Yes, a lot of players have returned to practice this week, including Donald Butler, Eddie Royal, Jeromey Clary, Ronnie Brown, Tyronne Green and Demorrio Williams, but they are not rushing back. They are all healthy enough to at least participate in practice on a limited basis. If they prove to be healthy, then they will suit up. I asked most of the above players about the importance of coming back for the final two games, and many of them said it was important to them that they ended the season on their own terms, not because of an injury. But overall, in my mind the number one reason to keep watching is to see how our young guys perform as it’s imperative that we know what we have for our future. The earlier we get them out there, the sooner we get a glimpse of how they'll play into next season and beyond.
Q: I see Vincent Brown returned to practice. Will he play on Sunday? – Harold F. Grimeson
A: While it’s true Vincent returned for the individual portion of practice this week, it was done so with the understanding he will not play in either of the two remaining games. As Turner said, he simply isn’t anywhere near ready to play in a National Football League game. For more information on Brown, click here to read an article I wrote about him on Wednesday.
Q: Bold prediction time. Mine is that Rivers throws for three TDs. What you got this week Rick? – Jon Golden
A: That’s a good one, Jon. I’m going to go on the opposite end of the spectrum and say our defense picks off Greg McElroy three times.