Kellen Clemens knows there's not a soul, outside those on the opposite sideline, that wants to see him under center come Sunday.
That's no slight on him, considering Philip Rivers is a good bet to make the Hall of Fame as one of the top quarterbacks to ever play the game. But with number 17 currently in the concussion protocol, there's a legit chance Clemens will be under center when the game kicks off.
"I'm fortunate to have been here for four years," Clemens said. The offense didn't change much in the offseason despite the change that was made at the top. And Philip has been great. For three and a half years now, he's been an open book sharing his thoughts why he does things. So it's no different this week than any other week. I have to be ready if I'm called upon. Everybody hopes that Philip's going to be out there and ready to go. (Everybody) hopes that he's OK physically. (That's) the most important thing. But if called upon, I'll be ready to go."
The savvy vet is more than ready.
In fact, Rivers has helped prepare Clemens for this potential moment from the second he arrived as his backup in 2014. Number 10 is grateful for all his good friend and teammate has done over the years. After all, not every starting quarterback communicates with his backup the way number 17 does with his.
"I would hope that that's a benefit," Clemens said. "And again, that's a testament to him. He's an open book. A lot of guys aren't, and they don't have to be. But he's an open book. If I have a question, he takes the time to answer it. If I don't understand it, he explains it a different way. So it's just a testament to him while he's preparing to get himself ready. If I have questions, he helps me as well. It's a relationship I'm very grateful for, and I've benefited from in ways that haven't been seen yet."
Serving as the backup to a legendary quarterback is one of the oddest roles in sports. You obviously want to be out on the field, helping the team win. But at the same time, you don't want to see your good friend and teammate go down.
"Hopefully we don't have to see it," Clemens said. "I know everybody wants to see him out there, including myself."
Still, should Clemens get the start, Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said he doesn't anticipate making drastic changes to the game plan.
"Kellen is very involved with the game plan part of it (each week), interacting with Philip and how they prepare. He's been in the system for a number of years, so he's comfortable with it. You don't want to make him try to do too much. Maybe you cut it down a little. But from all the guys I've been around, especially in that role, Kellen is one of the sharpest as far as understanding what you need done and communicating that to the players. Executing it in a game is something he hasn't done a lot of in the last couple of years, but he's a pro, and I'm sure he'll be prepared."