Here is the injury report so far leading up to tomorrow's game against the Patriots.
|Brandon Siler||ILB||Foot||Full Participation||Probable|
|Buster Davis||WR||Ribs||Full Participation||Probable|
|Ryan Mathews||RB||Ankle||Full Participation||Probable|
Let's break down the significance of these injuries and how they can be overcome, beginning with the most important aspect of the game.
Like in any football game, in order to beat your opponent, you have to put up points. Be it running the ball or passing, every player on the field has a skill set that the defense plans for. No such defensive plan exists against the great Antonio Gates. Short of him not being on the field, he'll always produce, as he always has. Dealing with an ankle and Toe problem is nothing new for Gates, as he played two playoff games with his toe dislocated from his foot. Most of us would struggle to even stay standing while dealing with said injury, and yet this man plays Football with it. The truth is, Gates could become the NFL's first peg-legged TE and he'd still beat linebackers and safeties. But that's just speculation. The Patriots have struggled covering Tight ends, so a healthy Gates would have been a both a nightmare for them and a dream come true for rookies Richard Goodman and Seyi Ajirotutu. With his dominating presence, it would make Malcom Floyd's absence less stressful for Philip Rivers and easier on the running game. With both Floyd and Naanee out, the Bolts may come out looking like the 2006 team that loved them some Marty-Ball. However, Rivers now is an elite QB, whereas before, he was just a solid, up-and-coming kid with lots of promise. This means that even though the only veteran receivers are Patrick Crayton and Buster Davis, the passing game may be just enough to keep too many 8 man fronts from stuffing the run. By the way, running will have to be a big part of this game. Keeping the ball away from handsome Tom and the Chargers' defense fresh will help maximize potential punts by the Pats and Belichick's defense to be tired and suceptible to a big, game-changing play. Assuming of course, that the offense finds success and doesn't sputter, as has been the case repeatedly this year. All players, veterans and rookies alike will have to run the playaction to perfection if they want to get a passing game going and the running game effective.
King Kong returns! This is great news. I wrote last week that, while Kevin Burnett is a fantastic linebacker, his biggest weakness is run stopping. Now that Brandon Siler has returned, He can be mixed in with the ILB rotation and make his presence known. Siler can do things in the running game that Cooper and Burnett can't. He's powerful and rarely misses tackles. He can also cover better than Cooper. He's not someone Brady will be afraid to throw to, but he won't test him either, at least not twice. Larry English is out again, which means that this backup's backup, Jyles Tucker will have to step in, but Jyles Tucker is on IR as well you say? Oh, well Antwan Barnes will get a second chance to show why he should win the starting job over Applewhite. By the way, if Barnes does anything to Brady worth drawing a fine for, hope it's well worth it. Brady, as great a QB as he is, happens to be very pansy-like, to put it G rated. Throwing a temper tantrum on the ground while Haloti Ngata cleanly drops you? Respect points, -12. Now, Merriman's absence has already been a focus of past SMWIT articles, so no more needs to be said about it. Kion Wilson is now on IR to make room for "Tutu". Brady has only been sacked 8 times this year, 6 of them in the last two games. Could that mean the Pats line is struggling? Hardly, but Ron's Defense wants to get sacks this year, and they're 3rd in the league so far. If Brady can get sacked at least twice, consider the pass rush a moderate success if it means they get pressure in general. Hopefully, the depth this team has can produce something.
Nate Kaeding is out. Pretty serious, don't you think? Not that Kris Brown isn't dependable, but Kaeding has been steady in the regular season the last few years, and chances are, if he lines up for a field goal, it's going in. When in long field goal range, would Norv Turner risk converting a short 4th down to maybe have a few more chances at a TD? Or will he trust the Veteran Kicker? We'll find out shortly. Punt and Kick coverage again could be an issue with receivers having to play both offense and gunner. However; last week, outside of one play, it wasn't an issue. The only constant will be more than usual starters playing special teams and then having to stay on the field for defense. But if the offense can control the clock they should be fresh enough to contain the Pats' potent offense. In conclusion, I would like to see a more dynamic version of good old Martyball and a 23-21 win. Game on.