Rivers Ready for More in 2009

QB Philip Rivers (Shana Siler/SDBoltReport.com)

Quarterback Philip Rivers is one wealthy guy after signing the richest contract in team history, a $92 million deal that keeps him tied to the Chargers through 2015.

So the natural reaction would be for the player to kick back and not push as hard as in previous seasons.

But knowing what makes Philip Rivers tick, a more off-base comment couldn't be said.

"I don't think there can be any more pressure added or commitment or added determination from my side or anyone in that locker room to go win a championship," Rivers said.

"Certainly there is no outside or monetary driving force that could make me want to win any worse than I do. I always hated losing. I don't know if I can hate it even more; there is nothing that can give me any extra drive."

Billy Volek, Rivers' veteran backup, stressed that Rivers' want-to is off the charts.

"He hates to lose," Volek said. "If he loses it just kills him. He is such a competitor that the fans are very fortunate to have a guy like him leading this team and being the face of the franchise.

"They see him for three or four hours on Sunday. They don't see him putting in seven days a week. Tuesday is our day off and he comes in here every Tuesday, putting in the time, watching the film. He's very prideful and I don't think he is going to let anybody out-work him."

The heavy lifting remains - Super Bowl title - and really what else remains for Rivers, who is among the franchise's top quarterbacks ever? What else for a man who tied for the NFL lead with 34 touchdown passes and a 105.5 rating last year?

Both set team marks, and that's saying something for an organization with Hall of Famer Dan Fouts on its alumni list.

NOTES, QUOTES


RB Michael Bennett
Mike Zarrilli/Getty
--The Chargers scored a touchdown on their first drive against the Falcons. Not a big deal? It is when considering they failed to do just that in any of their games last season.

--RB Michael Bennett continues to look good in trying to earn his roster spot. He scored on a 48-yard pass from Philip Rivers against Atlanta, showing off his moves and speed when weaving through the Falcons' defense.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson, the former owner of the richest contract in franchise history, is happy Philip Rivers got his deal done when he did.

"I think that they were trying to get something done for a little while," Tomlinson said. "It's good they got something done before the season so they don't have to worry about it; they can put it behind them and (Rivers) can go play football. There are so many different things that stand out about him. His leadership qualities and just how much he knows football. I think that is the thing that impressed when he first got here."

--The Chargers' quarterbacks, offensive line and receivers impressed coach Norv Turner with their showing in the third preseason game. The Chargers' passing game was 21-of-32 for 320 yards and two touchdowns. "Some pretty amazing throws and catches and I thought very good protection," Turner said.

--The Chargers still have some concerns -- whether they admit it or not -- over that pass protection. Consider that Rivers was sacked six times in 36 drop-backs this summer.

--The Chargers went to Atlanta with more game-planning and a renewed focus hoping a strong showing would carry over to a quick start in the regular season. The Chargers jumped to a 21-13 lead in the first half. "I like the way our guys are preparing to get ready for the season," Turner said. "I like the way the prepared for this game and executed in the first half."

--Rivers, who completed 10-of-15 passes, couldn't help but notice the fire in his teammates' eyes in Atlanta. "I thought the intensity was right there with a regular-season game," he said.

--The Chargers, like other NFL teams, are finding the ticket market a tough sell in this economy. The Chargers, after winning three consecutive AFC West titles and being the only NFL team south of the Raiders and 49ers, have yet to sell out a home game through their advance sales.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Kynan Forney vs. Louis Vasquez at starting right guard.


OL Louis Vasquez
Shana Siler/SDBoltReport.com
This competition seemed to be over with Forney holding off Vasquez, the team's third-round pick out of Texas Tech. Vasquez's chances were hurt when he missed nearly two weeks with a foot injury. Then Forney got hurt, Vasquez returned and it appears this spirited battle is back on. Forney is nursing a sore neck which is slowly getting better; Vasquez, coming from the Red Raiders' spread offense, is slowly getting better in his run blocking. Forney is also knocking of the rust of not taking a snap last year, despite being on the Chargers' roster. "Someone is going to start Sept. 14," coach Norv Turner said of the team's regular-season opening night. "But just because someone starts the opener doesn't mean they're going to start (all) this year."

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Running back Darren Sproles.

The Chargers' defense can't wait for the season to start. That way, it will quit being embarrassed by the shifty Sproles. Sproles capped a stellar week with a touchdown scamper against the Falcons in the team's third preseason game. That tied a ribbon around a week in which Sproles had countless long runs in practice, gobbling up yards when it appeared the defense had him bottled up in the backfield. In the game, he scored on a 10-yard run and added 29 yards on three short passes.

"Darren is basically the king of screens," running back Michael Bennett said.

PLAYER NOTES

--DL Travis Johnson was acquired by San Diego in exchange for a sixth-round pick, according to ESPN. A former first-round pick by Houston, Johnson was placed on PUP with a sports hernia during training camp. If he meets playing time incentives, the draft pick could be bumped to a fifth-rounder. He could potentially play tackle or end in the Chargers' 3-4.

--WR Demetrius Byrd signed a four-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed. He wasn't expected at camp as he still recovers for injuries in a car accident.

--LG Kris Dielman was pulled from Saturday's game with a sore shoulder. But the team said it wasn't serious and he could have played if it was a regular-season game.

--WR Buster Davis had to prove this camp that he can play despite nagging injuries. He was able to go against Atlanta despite a sore knee -- he had two catches for 38 yards.

--OLB Larry English saw action after skipping the first two preseason games with a tender hamstring. English, the team's top pick, just missed a sack on Falcons QB Matt Ryan.

--TE Antonio Gates didn't play in Atlanta out of precaution.

--DT Jamal Williams sat in Atlanta but is fine and is enjoying an injury-free camp.

--RB Jacob Hester dinged his knee against the Falcons but it isn't considered serious.

--CB Brandon Hughes suffered a knee injury in practice Sunday. Coach Norv Turner said it's "significant," according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

--K Nate Kaeding had another long attempt fail to split the uprights, missing from 49 yards in Atlanta. Kaeding was but 4-of-9 from 40-49 yards last season.

-- WR Rodgeriqus Smith was waived by the Chargers.

-- OT Dan Gay was waived by the Chargers.

-- WR Greg Carr was waived by the Chargers.

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