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  1. #1
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    Rivers' playing time churns speculation

    Rivers' playing time churns speculation
    Chargers QB could get prime work vs. Seattle
    By Jim Trotter
    STAFF WRITER
    August 26, 2004

    CARSON – Oliver Stone, where are you when Chargers fans need you most?

    Conspiracy theorists were out in droves yesterday after coach Marty Schottenheimer announced that rookie quarterback Philip Rivers "might" get some work with the first team in tomorrow's exhibition game against the Seattle Seahawks in Qualcomm Stadium.

    Rivers, the fourth selection overall in April's NFL draft, missed 25 days and 29 practices while at a contract impasse with the club. But that didn't stop Schottenheimer from saying the former North Carolina State standout could cut into Drew Brees' playing time tomorrow.

    Might this be a prelude to Rivers starting the season opener Sept. 12 at Houston, even though he has completed just four practices since joining the team on Monday?

    Schottenheimer cautioned not to read between the lines, even though he has yet to name a starter and refused to rule out Rivers when asked about the possibility Monday. For one thing, this is one week, one exhibition game.

    "He's done a nice job here, so my expectation is that he'll play (tomorrow)," Schottenheimer said.

    The second half?

    "I haven't really made that decision," Schottenheimer said. "He might even get in earlier than that.

    "If we do it in the second quarter, I wouldn't think it would be with all the starters. At this point we kind of have groups. There's not a dramatic difference, maybe, between first (team) and second, as we speak."

    Rivers seemed surprised when told he would play not only in the second half, but possibly as early as the second quarter. Teams generally play their starters into the third quarter of the third exhibition game, then rest them in the fourth and final exhibition game to guard against injury.

    "Really?" Rivers said when told of Schottenheimer's comments about playing time. "Great. I think they know I'm pretty much up to speed, as far as all the run checks and all that stuff."

    Rivers acknowledged he's not as comfortable as he will be tomorrow, or a week from now, or a month from now. He said that will come with time. The goal is to reach the point where everything feels as if it's second nature and he can act instead of react.

    Like some outsiders, a few teammates arched their eyebrows when they learned Rivers might play in the second quarter. They too wondered whether to read anything into the situation.

    Management spent the offseason saying it had to upgrade the quarterback position after Brees, who ranked 15th among 16 AFC quarterbacks in passer rating last year, was benched for five games and pulled from two others.

    Rivers started an NCAA-record 51 games in four seasons at N.C. State, completing 1,087-of-1,710 passes for 13,484 yards and 95 touchdowns, with 34 interceptions.

    What will it mean if Rivers has a stellar performance against the Seahawks? Schottenheimer chuckled at the question. If nothing else, it will be a positive situation for the Chargers, because teams can never have enough depth at quarterback.

    Brees has been good in two exhibition starts this year, completing 24-of-35 passes for 328 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. His passer rating of 105.4 ranks 10th in the league.

    The cynic would say Brees should be playing well at this point. He's a third-year starter going against vanilla defenses. While true on a certain level, the bottom line is that he has produced when called on.

    But one possible concern is that Brees is 0-for-3 passing on third-down attempts in the red zone. He struggled in that area last season, and Schottenheimer reiterated after Saturday's win at Arizona that the offense has to improve in that area.

    At 6-foot-5 and 228 pounds, Rivers is 5 inches taller and 19 pounds heavier than Brees. Some believe that could allow him not only to see the field better, but also to be more stout in the pocket when facing a rush.

    Let the games begin? In some ways, they already have.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Rivers' playing time churns speculation

    So, you miss most, if not all, of training camp and this is the repayment? What a joke, I'll be cheering for Drew Brees to show up the rookie.

    Too bad the Chargers started with such outrageous contract demands or this guy would have been in camp sooner.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Rivers' playing time churns speculation

    Typical Charger decision making with regard to their quarterbacks. They're still feeling the effects of the Ryan Leaf curse.

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