Norv on Injuries:
"I’ll give you an update. We made it through the game awfully well. (Eric) Weddle came out for a few plays but he is fine. His knee was a little sore. He had a little bit of a stinger. Stephen Gregory had a little bit of a stinger in his shoulder, but went back in. Shaun Phillips made it through real well with his ankle. He got banged on the hip pretty good. He’s a little bit sore but all three of those guys I expect to be fine. Guys who have had injuries, Jacques Cesaire with his elbow, he was inactive. He’s made great progress. Nick Hardwick made it through with the ankle extremely well. I talked to him Saturday morning and he didn’t even come in for treatment. He felt that good. He didn’t miss a beat. He really played well. He’s just a good football player that knows what he’s doing. I think Shawne Merriman made it through pretty good with the foot. From that standpoint I think we’re in great shape from an injury standpoint."
Norv on Rest vs. Rust:
"We can get better. We’re going to play. Our players know we’re going to go play and they want to play. Where we’ve made our progress, and I said it even when we were struggling early, is the way we’ve practiced on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but even our Friday tempo has been outstanding. There’s no question there are things we can work on. There are little wrinkles we can work on that we don’t have to use in this game. Obviously next week is a bye, and it’s different than an in-season bye: to me it’s a working bye. It’s like your normal week practices. We’ll practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and it’ll be like game preparation because that is not only how you stay sharp but how you get better."
Norv on his sideline "fight" with Philip Rivers
"It’s funny. My son was watching the game and he said, ‘Did you get in an argument with Philip?’ I’m half crazy and he’s full crazy. He came off and what happened on the play, it’s the first third down and I thought we were going to get the first down. Nick (Hardwick) gets a little emotional and excited and Nick snapped the ball a count early. If you look at the tape, Kris Dielman is tapping Nick and he doesn’t even get out of his stance. So they have two guys free and Philip isn’t able to throw the ball. I said something like, ‘What the heck happened?’ He started as he does, ‘Nick snapped the ball early!’ It looks like we’re in an argument and we’re talking about Nick snapping the ball early. I said, ‘Why’d he do that?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know why he did that!’"
More quotes from Norv, LaDainian Tomlinson, Eric Weddle and Brandon Siler after the jump.
Head Coach Norv Turner
"As I talked about after the game, the key to me when you play on a Friday, particularly playing on Christmas and everything involved – we traveled on Wednesday – was the preparation. I thought our guys did a great job starting Monday after the Cincinnati game of getting ready for the football game. We had outstanding practices on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday was like a normal Friday practice and our guys handled it extremely well. It just carried over into the game. We played well in all three phases. I thought we had a lot of guys step up and play at a real high level. You have to perform like we did. One of the things that I think and I told our team: we’ve got a group of guys when they set their minds to it, they get it done. We talked in August about playing at a high level on the road. Being 7-1 on the road, the best record in the history of the Chargers, that means an awful lot to me and I think our guys are extremely proud of that because it’s something we talked a lot about in August, through training camp and set a tempo. We really set a tone for what we wanted to do when we went to Atlanta and played on the road in the preseason. It is a big part of the success we’ve had.
The couple things I talked about all the way back to mini camp was the maturity level of our football team. I thought that was going to be a big reason why we could take a step as a football team. I believe the maturity level of our team is one of the reasons, whether it be we’ve played well on the road or overcome the injuries we did early. That was critical.
The other thing I talked about was we had a lot of young players that I thought could have their best year yet. A lot of guys have had that best year and you don’t see it statistically: a Kris Dielman, a Marcus McNeill, those guys going out and playing at the level they have. Statistically you see it with guys like Vincent Jackson, who has had his personal best in yardage, going over 1,000 yards again. Antonio Gates, the things he’s gone through with the injured toe all the way back to the playoff game two years ago in the Tennessee game when he initially hurt it and coming right back and having his best year ever in terms of yardage. Obviously Philip Rivers has had his best statistical year and his best year. Defensively, Shaun Phillips, right now he’s forced seven fumbles. He leads the league. That’s a Charger record and I believe he’s having his best year. It’s great for our team to see that you can continue to improve even though you’ve played a lot of football.
Probably the most unexpected thing about this team - and I’ve talked about it a lot – I don’t think you could ever count on it but it’s been one of our big keys, is our young players: how they’ve contributed, how they’ve become really good contributors to our team. Louis Vasquez going in and doing what he’s done, starting at right guard and playing at a high level … a guy like James Holt that came out of nowhere … Larry English. Those guys and the contribution they’ve made to our team are outstanding.
Are you pleased with how this year has gone with Darren Sproles helping lighten the load for LaDainian Tomlinson?
"No question. One of our big things, and we’re a week away from doing it, was to have LT healthy first and fresh going into the playoffs and to have LT and the running game making that kind of progress. Obviously we started slow running the ball. We had injuries on the line, LT missed two games, but over the last 10 games and over the last five games our running game has been more than affective and it’s a big part of what we do. When we run the ball and have the threat of the run, it allows our big-play people on the outside and Philip to have a chance to make the plays. We lead the NFL in average yards per completion and we’re up there pretty high, about 8.9, which someone told me the other day was comparable to what the Rams averaged per attempt back in 2000. That’s a pretty impressive stat."
How much thought have you given as to how you’ll approach this week as far as playing your starters?
"I’ve given a lot of thought and we’ve talked a lot about it. You kind of have an idea what you’d do in this situation going into it. We’ve had some guys playing with injuries over the last month and fighting to get through it and have missed practice. Certainly if there’s someone who has been injured that we can help them by limiting how much they play or not playing them, that’s what we’re going to do. Again, like I just told the team an hour ago, we’re going to get ready to go play this game. Any decisions we make like that will be Friday or Saturday decisions. We’re going to have practices the way we practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Then if there’s someone who is limited because of an injury, we’re going to take that into account. I told our team we’re going to be ready to go play and we’re going to go play."
Have you ever been in this position before?
"Yeah and we played and we took some guys out when the time was appropriate. But we played our starters a pretty good dose."
With short rest, the long trip and the holiday, was that among the most impressive thing your team has done this season?
"Yeah, I think all things involved with what was at stake. We were playing a team that was still alive, and as we saw yesterday, whether you thought they were alive or not alive, they’d won seven of their last eight games and they were alive in the playoff fight. There are a bunch of teams who are still alive with similar records. They had a lot at stake and we had a lot at stake. I was very impressed with the way they handled it."
With the amount of young players who do have experience this season, is it a situation where the starters could rest and you still win without much falloff from your starters to your backups?
"There is a falloff. As I said, Shaun Phillips leads the NFL with seven forced fumbles and those plays are the difference-makers in my mind. Obviously in this game against Tennessee, you saw it. When we create turnovers, and we had awfully good plays to create those turnovers, then we score a lot of points. When we get the ball at the 50 yard line after a turnover, we’re one of the better teams at taking turnovers and turning them into points. Those guys make plays that change games. We do have some young guys who are capable, but I think the things that Shaun Phillips and Shawne Merriman have been doing for a long time, we don’t take those things for granted."
Could you explain why you wouldn’t just rest everybody this week and guarantee going into the playoffs as healthy as you could possibly be?
"You have 53 guys on your roster and you have 45 guys active. We’re going to go play a game. We’re going to play a four-quarter game and if you start resting the guys you’re talking about, then you’ve got a 35-man roster. If you play 35 guys an entire game, offense, defense and special teams, some of those guys are going to get hurt and pretty soon you can’t put together your best kickoff coverage team when you get ready to play a playoff game and you’re limited in terms of those guys that people don’t think of as essential, but they are. Obviously we are as committed to the kicking game as any team in the league and that’s a big part of our success."
If someone key got hurt, how would you explain that in a meaningless game?
"It’s not a meaningless game because going and playing and staying game sharp and going out and executing the things we need to do to me is big. There are a lot of different theories, but I believe if you look back at different teams, teams that have continued to play and stayed sharp have had good success in the playoffs."
And a big problem with this team the last four years has been injuries going into the playoffs.
"What it’s been, our guys who have gotten hurt have gotten hurt in those (playoff) games. The Tennessee game, the Indianapolis game, we had people get hurt obviously that were critical. The one exception was the game we had to win to get in the playoffs last year, LT strained a groin. We have to weigh all those different things, but again we’re going to go play the game."
Could you emphasis a bit with Jim Caldwell and the Colts with how they had to manage things?
"What you do, first of all, nobody knows their team and their situation better than their staff and Coach Caldwell. I never try to evaluate what someone else is doing because I’m not right in the middle of it every day like he is."
What level would you put Philip Rivers at right now with the way he’s playing?
"I said this about Gates during the year, when a guy starts playing like Philip is playing, it’s just fun to watch. It gives you so much freedom as a coach, as a play caller when we’re putting together a game plan with all our coaches because now you’re not saying, ‘Well I really like this play, but if this guy’s not open, I don’t know what he’s going to do with the ball.’ We can go out and call our offense and have great confidence that Philip is going to make the right decision, get the ball to the right guy, get us in the right protection. He’s just playing at really an unbelievably high level."
Where do you see Philip in the MVP conversation?
"That’s really not any part of my thinking. I would hope he would have consideration because it’s hard to play at the level he’s played this year and do it for such an extended period of time."
With the Pro Bowl teams being announced tomorrow, what player would you consider it a crime if he doesn’t make it?
"There are guys that you assume are going to make it, and I don’t think it’s ever fair to assume. I think of guys who have had great years and haven’t been there yet. I think Vincent Jackson is deserving. It’s a hard position to make it because there are a lot of people who have more catches than him, but I think a year ago he led the league in average per catch and right now he leads the NFL in yards per catch. Obviously the big plays he makes are critical to us. The guy who always to me gets overlooked is Quentin Jammer. He’s a Pro Bowl player in my mind and he doesn’t get a lot of attention or acclaim, but people are careful when they throw the ball his way and he’s an awfully good football player."
Do you have any thoughts about facing the team you coached for seven seasons?
"It’s been so long and our circumstance right now is we have a lot of things about us that I’ve given a lot of though to. It’s not any different than getting ready for any team. I think it’s been what our team has done, there are reputations about different divisions and our division I think has gotten more attention. Oakland has beaten good football teams and Denver has won big games. We’ve played well. I’m pleased with the way our team has played against the NFC East. Having the wins we have against those teams and playing at the level we’ve played against those teams, I think it says something about our team and our division."
With a day off yesterday, did you watch games and pick some things up you can use?
"You become a fan when you turn the TV on and start watching. I feel asleep during the middle of one of the games. I hate to admit that. It wasn’t too exciting. Playing on a Friday is hard on our guys. Playing on Christmas is hard on our guys. Having Saturday and Sunday off really helps them. They came in and got a lift and ran this morning. Then they get tomorrow off. They get three out of four days off and I think that’s a big plus for them."
How much affect did Hardwick have on the run game?
"Every team you play is different and the type of defense Tennessee has, they play an even front that we matchup real well against, run the ball well against as we have. I thought Nick played well in the run, but our guys, Dielman got a game ball and played awfully well. Marcus (McNeill) had a good game. Vasquez had an excellent game. Dombrowski got a game ball. He played half the game at right tackle, or I should say 60 percent at right tackle. Then he went over and played left tackle and played awfully well. Our offensive line as a group played real well."
Have you figured out what Dombrowski’s best position is?
"He played awfully well at right tackle and we have a couple plays when we play a team like this where we pull the tackle and he had three or four great pulls. There’s no question he will be an outstanding guard. We’ve won whatever number of games in a row since Jeromey (Clary) went out and played awfully well offensively with him at right tackle. I don’t know why I would think or anyone would think he couldn’t be a right tackle."
There was talk that Jon Runyan would replace him right away but that hasn’t happened.
"It hasn’t and this has been really good for Jon. It was funny, I was in the training room Saturday morning with some of the guys and Jacques said that when Runyan goes in the game everybody gets up and goes to watch because when he goes in the game he usually puts someone on their back. He had some great blocks and Jon is every week getting back into it and getting to play as much as he did the other night was good. We put him in in the third series. Having that depth…because really, when Jeromey went down, we were down to two tackles. As I said at the time, being able to get Jon here was big. A.J. and getting that done was big. Then Jon having time and Brandyn playing at as good level as he was, having time to let Jon get back into it has been good and we’re going to need Jon."
Safety Eric Weddle
You played for Urban Meyer at Utah. What are your thoughts on what he’s going through?
"He meant a lot to our program and he was a great mentor to me as a person. I hope he gets well. I hope he continues to coach. Obviously he has a situation he needs to take care of and I’m sure he will."
>Did it surprise you when you heard he initially resigned?
"Yeah, it surprised everyone."
Coach said the starters aren’t playing Sunday (joking). Are you okay with that?<>"No, everyone is going to play. We’ve got to keep this thing going. No time to rest."
Where are you at with your knee right now? Could you use a week off?
"Yeah, I’m sore but we’ll see how it goes this week. I’m just going to do what the coaches tell me to do."
"He should be. In our eyes he’s done an amazing job getting us in the right direction and putting us in the position we’re in today. For the outsiders looking in to say that he shouldn’t be in contention, he should be and hopefully he’ll get the notoriety that he deserves."
How does it help you to have a guy like Quentin Jammer next to you?
"Obviously he’s been playing stellar the last couple of years and it’s carried over to this year. He’s all around a great corner. He covers well; he tackles well, and he doesn’t give up big plays. He just does his job. Being a safety, knowing that and having confidence in him along with (Cromartie), it makes my job a lot easier. I can be aggressive. If I see something I can attack it knowing that they have my back, knowing that they’re going to cover their side of the field, cover their guy. If I see something else that’s running free or see a formation or play, in the middle of the play I know I can take it because those guys will back me up. Obviously he’s having an outstanding season and him along with a bunch of other guys are the reason we’re playing so well."
Do you think Jammer deserves to be a Pro Bowler?
"Yeah, I always think he’s a Pro Bowl-caliber type and he’s played that way the last couple of years. For some reason he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, but he’s not the type of guy to get mad about it or try to toot his own horn, but I’ll do it for him. He’s a great player. I hope he gets it, but we’re a team and our ultimate goal is to get a championship and not individual goals."
Did you watch the Redskins last night and did you learn anything?
"Yeah I did. You always learn something when you watch a team that you’re going to play but every week is a new week. Regardless of how they played against the Cowboys, we’re looking at them as the best team we’re going to face. We’ve got to bring our A game. We’ve got to continue to focus, continue to prepare and continue to do what we’ve done the last 10 weeks to continue this momentum. We don’t want to go into the playoffs on a bad note."
Running Back LaDainian Tomlinson
Was it a little odd not playing football on Sunday this late in the season?
"I enjoyed it. I enjoyed just laying around and watching the games and having nothing to do."
Do you want to play this week?
"Yes I do. With us having the bye, I think it would be good for us to get out there and play. We’ll get a chance to rest next week but we need to be able to keep the rhythm of how we’ve been playing. I think that is important."
Do you believe in that argument that you shouldn’t play key guys. And that they should rest during the bye?
"I think that the only reason guys shouldn’t play is if they are injured. If you’re healthy, why sit out?"
Do you believe that the running game is peaking at the right time?
"Yes I think it is. It’s no secret that we’re moving the ball pretty well, both running and throwing it. We’ve always said that we want to be playing our best football and peak at the right time and I really think we’re doing that."
How are you feeling?
How much is that the way you’ve been used and the fact that you have a backup that you trust to relieve you?
"It has a lot to do with it. I haven’t been taking the same amount of shots that I have in past seasons. I’ve been able to stay fresh throughout the year. I haven’t really been beat up or tired, other than that first game where I injured my ankle. Besides that, I’ve been great."
Michael Turner did a lot of things great when he was here obviously, but it seems that Sproles has done an even better job than mike in terms of being that guy.
"I appreciate both of them. They are both different. Sproles is explosive and catches the ball out of the backfield and all that kind of stuff. Michael was more of a banger and got tough yards so it’s kind of hard to compare and say who did what better. I appreciate both of them."
Do you ever wish you were 5’5" so defenses can’t see you?
"No not really. I appreciate my God-given ability and the way he made me."
>What do you think about being able to possibly beat another NFC East team like the Redskins?
"I still think that it’s one of the toughest divisions in football. I think it says a lot about our team also and being ready to play against that division. I think it helps to have Chudzinski (Rob) around who was up in Cleveland last year and played that division. He has been able to help Norv game plan for that division. But it’s been credit to what we have done more than anything.
What players from this team do you think deserve to play in the Pro Bowl?
"I think our quarterback is up there as one of the top who deserves it. Vincent Jackson, no question. We have Gates, Marcus McNeil, and Kris Dielman. Obviously Sproles and the things he has done on special teams. There are a ton of guys just from our offensive side that could be in the Pro Bowl and should make it. Then there are guys on our defense like Eric Weddle and Quentin Jammer who have had a great year. Those guys deserve to be on that roster."
The guys who play on the teams who are in the Super Bowl and in the championship games will not be able to play in the Pro Bowl. Does that take something out of the game?
"Í think it does. The Pro Bowl has always been after the season and has been more of a vacation to wind down and enjoy the year that you’ve had after everything is over. It’s really about being able to enjoy the season and to have the last game of the year. But now it’s a little different with the Pro Bowl being a week before the Super Bowl. The guys don’t really get that luxury of treating it like a vacation."
What impresses you most about the job Norv has done this year?
"The way that he has prepared us. The way that he has had a plan for every situation we’ve gone through. We’re probably as well prepared as we’ve ever been, this year. That’s a testament to Norv’s game plan and even up until now and his game plan for the next few weeks. That’s where he’s done his best job.
What do you think of Philip as an MVP candidate?
"I think he should be an MVP candidate. I think it’s ridiculous that people are not talking about him for the MVP. He’s been the catalyst for this team and our success on offense for us in winning 10 straight games. What else do want him to do? He’s been a guy that you look at when you talk about MVP candidates."
Why do think people aren’t talking about Philip as an MVP?
"I think that it’s the whole West Coast deal. As Jeff Fisher said, a lot of people don’t like us. So I think that has a lot to do with it."
Is one of the reasons why he is an MVP because he has been able to overcome the injuries to the offensive line and overcome them as a leader?
"No question especially when you think about all the guys who have filled in on the offensive line. Also, when we struggled to run the ball, and we had to throw the ball a lot, we had success doing that. That’s an argument in itself. When you look at his stats, they are right up there with the top quarterbacks in every category. What else do you want from an MVP candidate?"
Inside Linebacker Brandon Siler
On his interception Friday
"I dropped in my zone and he threw it. It kind of surprised me that he threw it so fast. I just reached back and caught it. I tried to get down. I was going to pitch it to (Antonio Cromartie), to tell you the truth. I was trying to score some points for us."/p>
Do your coaches talk about pitching the ball?
"They usually don’t encourage pitching the ball, but in that case I was going to pitch it. I was trying to pitch it to Cro. As soon as I looked at him, I was like, ‘Ah, no. I can’t do it’ because I couldn’t gauge where everyone else was."
What would it mean to sweep the NFC East?
"We don’t really even think about that. We take it one game at a time and we’re going to approach this game like we approach the rest of them. People talk about taking it off or different people taking off. No, we want to win this game just like we want to win the rest of them."
"They’re all good teams and right now we’ve been fortunate enough to have beaten three of those teams. We’re going to try to get a win and we’re going to approach it the same way we’ve been approaching games."
With you getting so much playing time, on a personal level how much fun has this run been?
"I’m a part of a team right now, a team that’s on a mission to win and go into these playoffs on fire. I just try to help the best way that I can. I bring energy and I try to help the team out every way that I can and try to make them keep me on the field. It’s not that I’m looking for something specifically for myself. I’m concerned about this team and the team goals. Those are the things that are most important to me."
Did you watch the Redskins last night?
"I watched a little bit of it. It’s different when you watch on TV then when you’re breaking it down on film. On film we’re getting all the right tips and we know what to watch for. When you’re watching it (on TV), you’re just sitting back kicking it."
You’ve practiced against this offense all season. Who deserves to be in the Pro Bowl?
"With our offense, the easier question would probably be who doesn’t deserve to be in the Pro Bowl. We have a bunch of good players. We know that if we get on and off the field on defense, our offense is going to score. It’s going to get going. With an offense like that, we should have plenty of players that go to the Pro Bowl. I feel like that’s the fire power our offense has."
Who doesn’t deserve to be in the Pro Bowl?
"Probably me on offense. That’s it. I haven’t caught a ball yet. Just one."
How would you grade your return the other night?
"The return was terrible. I did run over a receiver, which is probably not the hardest part of my job but it wasn’t good."
Are you coached to just go down after a turnover?
"No, we concentrate on scoring or putting our offense in scoring position. We try to score every time we get the ball. It’s not that he says protect it because once they get it in our hands it’s an offensive possession for us."
What are your thoughts on your former coach Urban Meyer and what he’s going through?
"His situation is a little sensitive to me because he’s a family guy and I know that he’s trying to make the right decisions for himself and his family. That’s tough because the Gator Nation, we’re strong and proud. We have a bunch of people that are behind him and want him to keep on going but he has to do what’s good for himself and his family. That’s the most important thing. Whatever his decision is, I’m behind him 100 percent. It’s a crazy situation and he has to make the best decision for him."
Is he a fiery guy?
"He is a fiery guy. It takes a fiery guy to take you to the national championship that many times. He hasn’t been there that long. He’s a great coach. He gets you up to play and he does everything that you’re supposed to do. He’s also a family man. I know that about him. I’m real close to him. I’m behind him whatever his decision may be."
All transcripts are courtesy of the San Diego Chargers Public Relations Department.