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Offense feeling confident

Posted Dec 8, 2011

Malcom Floyd’s return, a solid game by the offensive line, continuing contributions from Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates as well as a 38-point outburst at Jacksonville have injected life into the Chargers.

SAN DIEGO – Malcom Floyd’s presence didn’t magically fix the Chargers.

San Diego didn’t score 25 more points than the previous week solely because of the return of No. 80. But the 6-foot-5 receiver’s capabilities command respect from defenses, taking a bit of pressure off Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers.

“Malcom is a big part of what we do,” Rivers said. “Having him back certainly gives us an added dimension.”

The three long-time central figures of the Chargers’ pass offense haven’t been on the field together much the last two years. They’d all started in three previous games but either missed parts of them or were at less than 100 percent from a health standpoint.

Monday against Jacksonville proved what San Diego still can accomplish when Rivers has time to throw and his starting receivers and tight end are available, as illustrated by a 52-yard Floyd touchdown catch that put the game out of reach in the third quarter.

Rivers completed 22-of-28 passes and threw three touchdowns against no interceptions, raising his career passer rating by a half-point to 95.3 – a significant increase for a guy with 92 career starts.

“The protection was great. I got to hold it a long time. I was able to kind of stare Vincent down in the middle of the field and just got the safety to turn,” Rivers said. “A lot of things go into making a play successful.”

A WINNING FEELING: The Chargers enjoyed a Wednesday practice coming off a win for the first time in seven weeks, but there wasn’t an appreciable difference in attitude, Rivers said.

That’s more of a testament to the way San Diego’s players and coaching staff didn’t allow a six-game losing streak to corrupt their preparation and focus rather than a lack of excitement about Monday’s victory.

“Nobody in here is going to relax or feel like we accomplished anything, but certainly it’s a morale boost,” Rivers said. “(Our energy) ought to be even better.”

Said Takeo Spikes: “It’s addicting. You get a win, now you want to go out and get another one. It makes everything feel that much better. The aches don’t hurt as much. Getting up in the morning doesn’t bother you as much.”

INJURY UPDATE: Donald Butler (foot) did not practice Wednesday.

He suffered the injury against Jacksonville and missed some time, but returned to finish the game, earning a game ball with what Head Coach Norv Turner deemed his best game of the season.

“I’m hopeful that he’ll be able to play this week,” Turner said. “Certainly when a guy’s improving the way he is, it gets you excited.”

Darrell Stuckey (groin) was the only other player with an injury that affected his practice participation.

GOODMAN SOLID: Kickoff returner Richard Goodman’s under-the-radar second half of the season has moved him to ninth in the NFL with a 26.5-yard average.

Goodman’s 23 kickoff returns also are about middle of the pack – the top 10 kickoff returners in the NFL average 22.8.

Goodman is about two yards from the top five and is one-tenth of a yard behind New Orleans’ Darren Sproles.

The second-year receiver has returned nine kickoffs since Week 9 against Green Bay and has averaged 32.2 yards in that span. NFL leader Joe McKnight of the New York Jets averages 32.4 yards per kickoff return.

Kickoff return average includes yards gained running out of the end zone, but the Chargers also are 0.6 yards from 10th in the NFL in terms of average starting field position after kickoffs.

QUICK PRACTICE: San Diego held a relatively scaled-back practice Wednesday afternoon to allow the players a more extended recovery.

The Chargers played a Monday night game this week in Jacksonville, Fla., and also were delayed a few hours Saturday when traveling to the game, Turner said. The team did not arrive in San Diego until after 4 a.m. Tuesday morning.

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