|Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had words of praise for Broncos QB Peyton Manning, whom he will face Monday night in San Diego. Rivers said he has admired Manning since his high school days. (US Presswire)|
The opposite of smack talk is spewing out of the Chargers (3-2) and Broncos (2-3) camps this week as the two teams prepare for a Monday night showdown. The Chargers were virtual kryptonite for QB Peyton Manning when he was with the Colts. Chargers coach Norv Turner has a 4-1 record vs. Manning since 2007. But neither the Chargers nor Manning is willing to acknowledge that past results will play into this week’s game, and both are avoiding saying anything that would be worthy of bulletin board material.
QB Philip Rivers even mentioned how much he admires Manning.
“From a personal standpoint, Peyton has always been a favorite of mine, back when I was in high school in Alabama,” Rivers said. “It’s always special playing a Peyton Manning-led team.”
The Chargers' past performances against Manning include:
- A 2005 Chargers win at the RCA Dome that ended the Colts' perfect 13-0 start to the season.
- A team-record six interceptions off Manning by the Chargers defense in a 2007 Sunday Night Football game in San Diego that the Chargers won, 23-21.
- A 28-24 win over Manning and the Colts in the 2007 divisional playoffs.
- Another playoff win, this one 23-17 in overtime in a 2008 wild card game in San Diego.
- The Chargers' most recent outing against Manning was another Sunday Night Football game at Lucas Oil Stadium in which they picked off four of his passes en route to a 36-14 win.
- Manning led the Colts past the Chargers 23-20 in Week 12 of 2008.
Manning was elusive when he addressed San Diego media on Thursday. He repeatedly said he wasn’t able to speak to anything related to his previous performances as a Colt vs. the Chargers.
“Once again, you’re talking different times,” Manning said regarding his propensity for throwing interceptions against the Chargers. “I’m on a different team now. It’s obviously different circumstances. Those were Colts vs. Chargers games. This is a division game now. I have an appreciation of what a division rivalry means. I’m not familiar with this division rivalry. These two teams have a long history playing twice a year. I know it’s an important game within the division. It’s going to be a tough test for us going against their defense.”
If Chargers rookie OLB Melvin Ingram, the team's first-round pick, is excited to face the future Hall of Famer, he isn't showing it. “We are all human,” Ingram said of Manning. “We all strap our cleats up the same. Strap our helmets in and our shoulder pads the same.”
OLB Shaun Phillips and CB Quentin Jammer have been a part of the Chargers defenses that have experienced success against Manning, but neither would acknowledge they are looking at old game tape of previous Manning matchups to prepare for Monday night.
“We try not to think about the past,” Phillips said. “Peyton is on a new football team. We are going to go out there and stick with our game plan -- try to stop the run first and try to get pressure on the QB. As long as we can continue to do that to the last game, we should be OK.”
Jammer echoed Phillips: “We are not even talking about what we have done in the past,” he said. "It’s a new game plan and we are going to try to go out there and execute.”
In previous games, the Chargers defense has had success changing their looks at the line, which appeared to confuse Manning. Defensive coordinator John Pagano said that approach could be used again. “[Manning] does such a great job of reading defenses,” Pagano said. “You try to give him as many looks as possible. You try to disguise as much as possible."
Harris preparing to play: LT Jared Gaither (groin) did not participate in practice Thursday. LT Michael Harris (undrafted, UCLA), who started the first three weeks of the season, is preparing to play on Monday. “The team needs me,” Harris said. “It’s unfortunate what happened to Jared. I know he will be fine. It’s my job as the backup tackle to just go in there and perform and produce. I treat every week like I am going to play.”
Gaither did observe practice and could play Monday.
Wright’s role limited: CB Shareece Wright had an outstanding preseason, and it appeared that he would see significant playing time at nickelback. He suffered a high-ankle sprain while making a tackle on the season’s opening kickoff. He returned to practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday. If Wright is active on Monday, his role will likely be relegated to special teams. Pagano declared CB Marcus Gilchrist will remain the nickelback.
Practice report: Gaither (groin) and K Nate Kaeding (groin) did not practice. WR Eddie Royal (hamstring) and Wright were limited. RT Jeromey Clary (foot) and RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) fully participated. All but Kaeding and Wright were new additions to the injury report after last Sunday’s game.
What’s next: The Chargers will practice in full pads on Friday.