|Philip Rivers will have Robert Meachem to throw to again on Sunday when the Chargers play the Bucs. Meachem missed last week's game against Kansas City with a hamstring injury. (US Presswire)
The Chargers (4-4) had a light practice on Friday before boarding the team’s plane to Tampa Bay for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers (4-4). At the midseason point, both are on the outside of the playoff picture but are considered in the hunt. A win will brighten the postseason hopes for one; a loss may signal that the stretch run will only bring disappointment.
Meachem and Royal back in fold: Wide receivers Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal missed last week’s game against the Chiefs with hamstring injuries. Both fully participated in practice throughout the week and are listed as probable.
Newly signed WR Danario Alexander and WR Seyi Ajirotutu were targeted four times vs. Kansas City and combined for four catches and 89 yards. It’s unclear what their roles will be with the return of Meachem and Royal.
Alexander had three of those receptions for 61 yards. “It’s all about what you have done lately,” Alexander said. “Every opportunity you get on the field, you have to take advantage of because you never know when it’s your last one.”
Liuget questionable: DE Corey Liuget (hamstring) is listed as questionable but appears closer to doubtful because he missed practice on Thursday and Friday.
San Diego rotates its defensive front seven. This allows the D-line to stay fresher throughout the game. The downside is good players play fewer snaps. In the last two games, Liuget had nine tackles (five solo and four assists), one sack and three passes defensed. He has also been an integral part of the Chargers' fourth-ranked run defense (84.0 yards allowed average).
If Liuget doesn’t play, then there will be one fewer player in the rotation. This may lead to the defense getting tired as the game progresses and provide opportunities for Bucs’ rookie RB Doug Martin. Last week, Martin ran for 251 yards and four TDs in a 42-32 win over the Raiders; he scored on runs of 1, 45, 67 and 70 yards.
Gaither questionable: LT Jared Gaither (groin) also missed the last two practices and is listed as questionable. LT Mike Harris (undrafted, UCLA) will start if Gaither is unable to play. Harris had mix performances in four previous starts in place of Gaither.
The Chargers offense has only scored two touchdowns in the last 10 quarters and QB Philip Rivers has thrown 10 INTs through the first eight games. Protecting Rivers will be critical for the Chargers if they are able to pull out a win.
Injury Report: Doubtful: OLB Antwan Barnes (hamstring). Questionable: LT Jared Gaither (groin), DE Corey Liuget (hamstring) and ILB Demorrio Williams (abdominal). Probable: SS Atari Bigby (quad), CB Chris Carr (quad), WR Robert Meachem (hamstring), OLB Shaun Phillips (finger) and WR Eddie Royal (hamstring).
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