Quarterback Philip Rivers and head coach Anthony Lynn expressed an identical sentiment about their Week 5 opponent, word for word, in separate press conferences Wednesday. Each said that the Broncos, who have lost two close games this season, could "very easily be 2-2."
Lynn said he expects the Broncos to be "hungry" against the Chargers this Sunday, while Rivers said "we're getting a tough opponent in a (divisional) game."
Rivers said the Broncos defense "will challenge the heck out of us," highlighting the Denver secondary and defensive line as particular strengths.
The quarterback described Broncos linebacker Von Miller as "one of the best (defensive ends and) outside linebackers ever," noting his ability to stop the run and the pass and "his quickness with power."
Rivers emphasized that he's gone "against (cornerback Chris Harris, Miller and defensive end Derek Wolfe) for many years" and that the familiarity on both sides will make for a tough matchup.
Melvin Gordon's Return and Austin Ekeler's Role
Rivers said he's excited to have Melvin Gordon playing this week, adding that he "looks good" and that "it will be a good week for him."
The quarterback went on to say that Austin Ekeler "still gotta be a big part of what we're doing," complimenting the undrafted third-year running back on his abilities as a receiver and at breaking tackles.
Confidence Despite Injuries
Rivers said there's no time to dwell on the many injuries that have afflicted the Chargers this season across the field.
"I think you just go," Rivers said. "Whatever 11 (players) are in that huddle, we believe we're gonna get it done. I think you just say, 'Shoot, let's go. Who we got? Who's up? Let's go find a way.'"
Who's Kicking Sunday?
Lynn said that punter Ty Long’s "plant leg was getting a little sore" and the team "didn't want to risk any further injury." While Long has handled field goals and kickoffs for the first four weeks of the season in place of kicker Michael Badgley, who remains sidelined, Lynn said that the plan is for Long to punt but not kick Sunday.
McLaughlin said he learned a lot from veteran kicker Steven Hauschka when he was the Bills this past offseason about "how to be professional, how to carry yourself, and how to prepare for practices and games."
The 23-year-old kicker heard about the Chargers' cohesiveness before being signed and "can already see that" after being here for only a day.
"I'm just here to do what I can to help the team win," McLaughlin said. "Just go out there and make kicks."
Lynn said the team is "taking it day-by-day" with injured defensive end Melvin Ingram.
"No one told Melvin Ingram that (he's expected to miss two weeks)," Lynn said, "because he's in my ear every day telling me how he wants to play this weekend."
Wide receiver Mike Williams was "feeling better," according to Lynn and was a limited participant in practice Wednesday. Lynn also reported that tight end Hunter Henry's condition is improving and he will be re-evaluated later in the week.
Tight End Stephen Anderson Added
On Monday, the Chargers promoted tight end Stephen Anderson from their practice squad. Before joining the Bolts, Anderson was on the New England Patriots practice squad.
"He's been here working with us every single day for the last three weeks and knows our system and what we're doing," Lynn said. "He's done a good job. I expect him to do the same on Sunday."