Jackie Battle earned the start against the Chiefs, and he remains listed as the Chargers’ No. 1 running back. (US Presswire)

The Chargers (3-1) got back to work Wednesday with a practice in preparation for their prime-time matchup this week against the winless Saints (0-4) on Sunday Night Football. Despite the Saints' lowly record, the Chargers are aware it will be a tough battle in New Orleans. 

“If you watch [the Saints in] a series of plays, it is the same guys doing a lot of the same things at a real high level,” coach Norv Turner said when comparing this year’s Saints to last season's Saints, who went 13-3. “They are about six plays away from probably being undefeated.” 

Mathews demoted on paper: RB Jackie Battle received the start over RB Ryan Mathews vs. the Chiefs on Sunday after Mathews had a critical goal-line fumble the week before against the Falcons. Battle had 15 carries for 39 yards and a TD vs. Kansas City. Mathews led the rushing attack with 14 carries for 61 yards. Most of Mathews' carries came in the fourth quarter when the Chargers had a big lead and the Chiefs defense was expecting the run.

The move to start Battle was likely meant to send Mathews a message that his job is tied to ball security.

Battle is officially listed as a starter over Mathews on this week’s depth chart. This doesn't guarantee that Battle will start. The listing could merely be a misdirection intended to make it harder for the Saints to game plan. Regardless, both players will see touches, and Battle will likely be the go-to RB in goal-line situations.    

Mathews said he will focus on making big plays when he gets his opportunities.  “I know I have the ability to take it all the way each time I touch the ball,” Mathews said. “That’s what I’m trying to do, even though I know it’s not going to be like that.” 

Kaeding timetable: K Nate Kaeding observed practice in uniform but didn't participate. Kaeding suffered a groin injury Friday in practice.

Turner refused to give a timetable for when Kaeding could return but mistakenly stated he missed six weeks the last time he had the same injury. Kaeding missed three games in 2010 with a groin injury. Turner did say Monday that Kaeding will be out for awhile. Put it all together and Kaeding will likely be out 3-6 weeks.

K Nick Novak was signed Saturday and was 3 for 3 on field goal attempts in place of Kaeding on Sunday.

Carr added: CB Chris Carr was signed Tuesday and added to the active roster Wednesday. WR Micheal Spurlock was released to make room for Carr on the 53-man roster.

Carr will give the Chargers a fourth CB while Shareece Wright (ankle) continues to heal. San Diego has gone into the past three games with only three CBs. Turner said a fourth CB is needed because of the Saints' high-powered offense and other dynamic offenses the team will face in the near future. “We were hung out last week with only three corners,” Turner said. “We are going to have corners available because we are going to see the ball in the air a great deal.”

Carr is intensely studying the playbook and said practice on Wednesday was like going through OTAs and training camp in one day. For now, Carr is primarily focused on the nickelback position. “Learning the nickel is always more difficult,” Carr said. “If you learn the nickel, the corner stuff will take care of itself.”

Butler honored: ILB Donald Butler was named AFC defensive player of the week for Week 4. On Sunday, Butler had six tackles, 0.5 sack, a pass defensed and an INT that he returned 21 yards for a TD. “It felt good,” Butler said of receiving the honor. “I don’t know what I get. I think just a pat on the back. I’ll take it.”

Garay in limbo: NT Antonio Garay injured a foot in training camp but is currently healthy. Garay has not been on a game-day active roster this season. Turner pointed to the excellent play of NTs Aubrayo Franklin and Cam Thomas as a reason Garay hasn't played. “It’s hard to dress more than five defensive linemen with a 3-4 defense,” Turner said. “There is going to be a time when we are going to need Garay. He is doing a great job in practice, getting himself ready.”

Turner emphasized that having Garay as a backup is a luxury the Chargers haven't had in recent seasons. “We have been on the other end when we have been going out signing guys on Wednesday and they have had to play on the offensive or defensive line on Sundays, and that is a challenge,” Turner said. “If someone gets nicked here in the next month and we make a switch, we are going to be in great shape.”

Practice Report: K Kaeding (groin) and CB Wright (ankle) did not practice. LG Tyronne Green (knee) fully participated but was listed on the practice participation report. Green was the only newly listed injured player following Sunday’s game.

What’s next: The Chargers will practice in full pads on Thursday.

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