Chargers Aim to Clip Hawks' Feathers Again
When the Chargers take the field on Saturday for a primetime showdown against the Seahawks, it will bring to mind the epic clash between the two teams in Week 2 of last season. San Diego edged the then-reigning Super Bowl champions, 30-21, behind three touchdown passes from Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates.
The thought is almost as discouraging as it is encouraging, as the Chargers prepare to play the first quarter of the regular season without Gates due to his suspension for violating the league's PED policy. But on the bright side, No. 85 was not the only one to put in work that afternoon against Seattle.
Rivers, who completed better than 75 percent of his passes in that game, was named the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week for his performance. On defense, Melvin Ingram led the way with a sack, a forced fumble, a tackle for loss and three quarterback hurries.
Rivers and Ingram will look to carry the day once again on Saturday. The stakes will be much lower, obviously, but the third preseason game is the most important. Several starters are expected to play into the second half as the teams gear up for their season openers on Sept. 13.
Among those starters is Keenan Allen, who caught five passes for 55 yards in last season's meeting. Allen did that damage primarily against Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman, who will be back on the field on Saturday for the first time since Super Bowl XLIX.
"He's always had my respect," said Allen of Sherman. "It's just about coming out and making plays."
One player who wasn't on the field for the last meeting was first-round pick Melvin Gordon. He wasn't on the field last week, either, as he sat out the preseason win over the Cardinals while protecting a minor ankle injury.
Gordon is expected to get a heavy workload against the Seahawks. He aims to be more efficient than he was in his debut against the Cowboys a couple weeks back, when he averaged 1.8 yards on a half-dozen carries.
While Allen and Gordon put in work on offense, Ingram looks to keep doing damage on defense. He comes off a strong game against the Cardinals in which he netted two of San Diego's six sacks. He will have to be even better to repeat that production against dual-threat quarterback Russell Wilson.
Ingram, who lost 10 pounds this offseason and is in the best shape of his career, appears up to the challenge.
"Melvin came in in phenomenal shape and he's worked extremely hard," said head coach Mike McCoy. "He's learned from some very good pros also. I think he's doing exactly what John Pagano and the staff want him to do."
If Ingram & Co. can pressure the quarterback the way they did last week, the Chargers have a great chance to improve to 3-0 this preseason. But as long as all the aforementioned players come out of the game healthy, the Bolts will feel like winners no matter what the scoreboard says.
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Michael Lombardo has covered the San Diego Chargers since 2003. He spent 12 years covering the team for Scout.com and has also been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports, Footballinsiders.com and MySpace Sports. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter @NFLinsider_Mike.