The San Diego Chargers may have been running out of patience with left tackle Jared Gaither and the back cramps that have kept him out for the last two months. The perception was that Gaither's rope was shortening by the day and then something happened: he came back.
Gaither returned to practice for the first time since July, according to Michael Gehlken of the U-T San Diego. This is a welcome sign for a team that has struggled to protect quarterback Philip Rivers.
It might take some time for Gaither to get in playing shape, but the Chargers shouldn't hesitate to throw him out there against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday against Tamba Hali.
In Gaither's absence, the Chargers have turned to undrafted rookie left tackle Mike Harris, who performed admirably against Matt Shaughnessy and the Oakland Raiders in Week 1, but was dominated by Kamerion Wimbley and John Abraham over the last two weeks.
When Rivers is performing a a high level, so are the Chargers. If San Diego wants to be a winning football team, they need to protect Rivers and allow him to pick apart opposing defenses. The Chargers haven't done that in 2012 and are probably lucky to be sitting at 2-1.
Should Gaither start on Sunday?
According to ProFootballFocus, Rivers has been pressured on 45 percent of his throws, the highest percentage in the league. Also, three of Rivers' four interceptions came when he was under pressure.
Provided Gaither doesn't experience any setbacks, the Chargers would be wise to get him in the game as soon as possible and start getting a return on the big contract they gave him prior to the season.
The Chargers handed out another contract on Wednesday, this one an extension to wide receiver Malcom Floyd that will keep him with the team through 2015, alongside the likes of Rivers, Antonio Gates and Eric Weddle (via U-T San Diego).
Other AFC West News
The NFL's official injury report did not list wide receiver Juron Criner, who has been dealing with an ankle injury and would likely replace the concussed Darrius Heyward-Bey in Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos.
Paul Gutierrez of CSNBayArea.com reports that the Raiders are ambivalent about the return of the regular officials.
The team's official website reports that Jamaal Charles was named AFC Player of the Week.
Rachel Santschi of the team's official website says the team is searching for its first win at Arrowhead in 2012 and "must-win" chatter surrounds the Week 3 matchup with the Chargers.