Chargers and Packers Start Sloppy

Playoff Contenders Have Trouble With Ball Security

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    . (Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images)

    In the first pre-season game of an NFL season, it's not uncommon to see a lot of turnovers. However, usually it's from the new guys just learning to play at the professional level, not the established starters on a playoff contender.

    So, when the Chargers and Packers combined for 5 turnovers in about a five and a half minute span of the first quarter, with the starting units on the field, it had a lot of people scratching their heads.

    The first miscue came from Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who fumbled the snap and watched San Diego safety Atari Bigby pick it up.

    Two plays later, Philip Rivers hit Antonio Gates down the middle for a 23-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Chargers lead.

    On the kickoff, Diondre Borel decided to run out from 7 yards deep in the end zone. He didn't get far. At the 17, Borel got obliterated on a tremendous hit by Shareece Wright, the 2nd-year defensive back who's really been turning heads in camp because of his coverage ability.

    However, the Chargers didn't take advantage. Rivers tried to hit Robert Meachem but the pass was picked off by Tramon Williams (yes, the same Tramon Williams who took a Rivers interception 43 yards for a touchdown in last year's regular season game).

    The Chargers defense forced a punt, and on San Diego's next play Rivers and running back Michael Hayes couldn't get together on a handoff (Hayes was in the game because starter Ryan Mathews suffered a broken clavicle on his first carry of the year. He will have surgery Friday and is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks). The Packers recovered the fumble but the Chargers would recover the momentum.

    Melvin Ingram, the Chargers first round pick, got through and hit Rodgers as he delivered. The ball fluttered and Antoine Cason picked it off. Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, finished the game 2-8 passing for 16 yards, an interception, and a QB rating of 0.0.

    Remember, last year Rodgers went 21-26 for 247 yards, 4 touchdowns and a QB rating of 145.8 against the Bolts.

    After that both starting offenses took the rest of the night off. The Bolts backups were better.

    Jarrett Lee, the undrafted rookie free agent from LSU, led a pair of scoring drives. He threw his first NFL touchdown pass to former Aztec star Vincent Brown, a 27-yard strike in the 2nd quarter.

    Lee also threw an interception on a ball he never should have tried. But, hey, it's a learning experience, and San Diego won 21-13.

    So, it wasn't pretty football. But, it was football, and we'll take it any way we can get it.

    NOTES:

    - The Chargers first two draft picks, Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes, had impressive debuts. Ingram got consistent pressure and Reyes was able to beat his man on most plays. Both seem to have a nose for the football, too.

    - Nick Novak missed a 35-yard field goal try, bouncing it off the upright. Nate Kaeding handled kickoff duties and kicked well. Novak and Kaeding are in an open kicking competition to see who earns the job for 2012.

    - Punter Mike Scifres punted twice, sticking one at the Green Bay 3 and the other at the 19.