San Diego Chargers Vs Denver Broncos: 10 Players to Watch for Bolts Fans
Another week is heading quickly towards the weekend, and you all know what that means.
Oh, yes, another weekend of NFL football is coming right for you.
Chargers fans are particularly excited for this one, because San Diego is coming fresh off a bye, and they are playing division rival Denver.
If you had asked me a few weeks ago if this game was going to be anything more than another stop on the metaphorical road to the playoffs, I would have told you no. The Denver Broncos looked bad. There's no better way to put it.
But then they came out and put the hammer down on Kansas City last weekend.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a good Monday Night Football match up.
So, let's start getting you all ready for some great Monday Night Football action. Here are 10 players to keep your eyes on as the Chargers face the Broncos.
Ryan Mathews is once again absent from practice, which doesn't necessarily mean that he will be ruled out for Monday's game. However, it does mean that he will at least be playing on a rotational basis.
Mike Tolbert has proven himself to be the best rotational player that the San Diego Chargers have, and watching him play is always a lot of fun.
Tolbert is always one of the strongest people on the field, and that really comes through in his physical style of play. Tolbert knows how to throw his weight around, and more often than not rips off large chunks of yardage.
It also helps that the Denver Broncos are ranked No. 30 against the run. If Tolbert is the lone back for this game, he has the potential to break 100 yards.
Seyi Ajirotutu really burst onto the scene against the Houston Texans after being activated from the Chargers practice squad.
In that game two weeks ago, the undrafted rookie free agent out of Fresno State posted 111 yards on four receptions, two of which went for touchdowns.
He displayed good abilities in separating from defenders, as well as soft hands and great field awareness. It may be hard for him to find some playing time with Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee likely back in the lineup, but keep an eye out for him when he does make it to the field. He has some play making ability in him.
After missing the last few weeks due to injury, Malcom Floyd is due to return to his spot as the No. 1 receiver for the Chargers, and that could have a huge impact on the game.
Without Floyd, the Chargers really lacked a large, physical presence on the outside, the kind of receiver that Philip Rivers could trust against top defenders.
If Rivers could post 295 yards without Floyd, imagine what he can do with him back in the game?
The Denver Broncos will try to establish the run early, that is a certainty. With their success against Kansas City last week, they know that it will be key to get Knowshon Moreno going early and often.
Whether or not the Chargers will be able to effectively stop him will be largely dependent upon the play of Antonio Garay.
If Garay cannot effectively draw the double team and plug up the middle, the Chargers could struggle a lot against a potentially dangerous running game.
Playing against a team that relies almost exclusively on their passing game means that a good pass rush is the key to a victory.
Shaun Phillips has had two excellent performances this year (against Arizona and Jacksonville), but has since failed to produce those kinds of numbers. While it may be because offenses are starting to key in on him a bit, there is still the possibility that Phillips will spring loose and bring Kyle Orton down once or twice.
The matchup between Quentin Jammer and Brandon Lloyd should be the most interesting one of the game.
Lloyd has developed into one of the best deep threats in the NFL, and is Kyle Orton's favorite target. Shutting him down would be more or less shutting down the entire offense of the Denver Broncos.
While Jammer is not a shutdown corner, he can be trusted to cover most No. 1 receivers, and should be able to cover Lloyd effectively. If not, Monday night could end badly for San Diego.
With Shaun Phillips drawing attention to one side, it will be up to the other linebackers to capitalize on single blocks and open lanes, and none of them have done a better job than recent acquisition Antwan Barnes.
Barnes has good field sense, and has a real knack for getting into the backfield and putting pressure on quarterbacks. In his four games (in which he only played on a rotational basis), Barnes posted two sacks and eight tackles.
If he can capitalize on opportunities that will be afforded to him in OLB blitz scenarios, he could have a big day.
Cason is the kind of player you want to watch every week. It's not because he is always guaranteed to make big plays, but he is always going to have a huge impact on the game.
Some weeks he plays great football, in which case his impact is positive.
However, some weeks Cason is completely ineffective, blowing coverages, missing tackles and making poor mental mistakes.
The Chargers will need Cason to bring his A game this week if they plan on stopping Kyle Orton.
Steve Gregory was playing fantastic football in the beginning of the season.
Then he had to serve a four game suspension for violation of the League's PED policy.
The strong safety position was thrown into chaos, and even the return of Gregory didn't seem to fix much.
I hate to keep harping on the same point, but Gregory, as part of the Chargers' secondary, is going to have to bring his A game, because Kyle Orton will be hunting for any weak points he can find in the Chargers' defense.
This one more or less goes without saying, but I'll put it out there anyway.
Philip Rivers is on pace to break Dan Marino's single season passing yardage record, and this week he faces a weak defense with a healthy receiving corps.
Big plays are imminent.
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