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Meeting the challenge

Posted Nov 23, 2011

Heady game-planning, a full week of preparation and good execution by several backup offensive linemen kept Philip Rivers upright and unsacked Sunday against Chicago.

SAN DIEGO – The Chargers’ offensive line was one of the most stable position groups in the NFL entering 2011, as all eight players on the roster had at least two previous seasons in San Diego and at least seven starts.

But injuries besieged the position mid-season, and by the end of the Chicago game, rookie Stephen Schilling (one career offensive snap) and Tony Moll (signed five days earlier) were the two guards. All four players ahead of them on the depth chart were out.

Brandyn Dombrowski also started at left tackle, drawing praise from Head Coach Norv Turner.

“I thought our guys met that challenge at a pretty high level,” Turner said. “We have to protect Philip and I thought we did a good job of that through most of it.”

Philip Rivers was not sacked for the first time in 26 games and was only hit once. San Diego utilized a few screen passes and intentionally got the ball out quick on a few occasions, but didn’t implement a major overhaul.

“The guys up front were awesome. They obviously did an outstanding job,” Rivers said. “We didn’t really max protect or do anything like that. I think on some of our protections the backs maybe hesitated a little bit getting out in case they needed to chip, but I don’t know that scheme-wise we did a ton different. We did our normal deal as the game got going and our guys up front had a good handle on them.”

San Diego was able to create some successful run plays early in the game against a large, stout defensive front before Chicago caught on to the Chargers’ adjustments. The Bolts countered with several deep passes to Vincent Jackson, surprising some who predicted a more conservative approach.

The team felt it would need to hit some throws downfield to be successful on offense, Turner said, and the offensive line facilitated the execution, which led to 165 receiving yards for Jackson.

“We tried to create some deep throws that we could get the ball out pretty quick,” Turner said.

Fans hoping for major reconstruction along the line will have to wait at least another week, it seems. Tyronne Green could potentially test the feasibility of playing with a wrap on his hand, but the Chargers are less than optimistic on most of the injured players.

“The injuries we have, you don’t just feel better in one day. It’s a process,” Turner said. “We have to have a plan to play with the guys who played Sunday and if we get someone back it’s a bonus.”

TICKETS REMAIN: About 3,400 tickets are available for the Chargers-Broncos game scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.

The Chargers have until Thursday afternoon to sell the tickets and lift a TV blackout in local markets.

Fans attending Sunday’s game will witness the official halftime induction ceremony of former linebacker Junior Seau into the Chargers Hall of Fame during alumni weekend. San Diego also will wear the popular powder blue (“Power Blue”) alternate uniforms for the first time this season.

Tickets may be purchased on Chargers.com, by calling (800) 745-3000 or by visiting the Chargers’ ticket office located at Qualcomm Stadium’s Gate C. The Chargers’ ticket office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. It will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving.

If the blackout is lifted, KFMB-TV Channel 8 will show the game in San Diego and KCBS-TV Channel 2 will show the game in Los Angeles and Orange County. Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts will call the game from the booth.

OPEN FOR NOMINATIONS: Know someone who volunteers time to a youth football or cheer organization?

You may consider nominating them here for the Chargers’ Community Quarterback award.

The Chargers will award grants of $2,000 and $5,000 to the nonprofit youth football or cheer organization of the winners.

Now, you can stay in touch with the team anytime, anywhere, on your mobile device with the official app of the San Diego Chargers.
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