TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 11: Coach Joe Philbin of the Miami Dolphins checks the scoreboard against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers November 11, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Tampa won 22 - 19. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
FACING THE FINS
The Chargers will soon head to Miami, to face the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium in Florida Sunday. Both teams come into the game with a 4-5 record, scratching for a win that could possibly launch a team into the running for the second wild card spot in the AFC.
"We are not worrying about the playoffs at all," said head coach Mike McCoy. "That's the furthest thing from our minds. Right now we are looking to go in there and beat Miami. It's one week at a time right now. We have a lot of football left and there is a lot of football to be played before any of that is determined."
Besides the drama that's manifested with the Richie Incognito-Jonathon Martin situation, the Dolphins are also coming off a Monday night loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, giving them a short week to prepare and also a hunger to erase the loss to an otherwise winless team.
"They show some unique looks," said quarterback Philip Rivers. "They have some challenging blitz packages. They really fly around. You watch the game Monday night and they got behind, but then they really turned it up and got it close there at the end.
"It's another tough challenge for us. We are coming off two losses in a row, so we have to go to Miami and be ready to go to get us to .500. It's going to take a heck of an effort. It's a good front and a very smart secondary. They are obviously very talented, athletic and all that, but they play very smart. You can tell they prepare well as far as reading routes and things they do. And their defensive backs can catch the ball."
Added linebacker Jarret Johnson: "They got a lot of weapons. They're obviously different with the loss of two offensive linemen [Incognito/Martin], but you've got a young, athletic quarterback and you definitely don't want to let him get started with any momentum."
That signal caller is second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who's thrown for 2,206 yards and 13 touchdowns this season … and has also been intercepted 10 times, which could make for an opportunistic Chargers defense.
"Big plays have kind of been our nemesis this year and a lack of turnovers, so we need to get started getting some turnovers," Johnson said.
Added defensive end Corey Liuget: "We just have to get to the quarterback and cause more havoc up front. They're gonna come. And when they come, they will come in bunches."
The Dolphins rushed for only two yards against Tampa.
"Obviously rushing the ball didn't go well on Monday, but we know they have a rushing attack," said linebacker Thomas Keiser. "If we don't prepare properly for it, it's going to be a problem. They are going to try and establish a run, and it's imperative we don't let them do that."
Left tackle King Dunlap was pulled from Sunday's game against the Broncos with what was originally announced as a concussion, but later retracted by the team and deemed a neck strain.
It was a precautionary measure, as Dunlap has already suffered two concussions this season.
"It was more cautionary than anything else," Dunlap said Wednesday. "There was no dizziness or anything like that. They were overly cautious and more concerned about me and my health than me being on the field and able to play."
Dunlap said he is "taking it day by day" and letting his neck "heal up," but added that when he does rejoin the team, he will do so without concern.
"When it's game time, it's time to strap up and just play," he said. "If you go out there worried about being hurt, that's when sometimes you get hurt. You gotta just let loose on the field."
The Chargers lost another linebacker to injured reserve Tuesday, when it was announced Larry English had a season-ending pectoral injury.
"We have guys that have been in the system long enough," Liuget said. "I definitely think we're going to be okay with the guys that we have."
Those guys include Tourek Williams, Thomas Keiser and the newly signed Adrian Robinson, who played in six games for the Broncos this season before being waived.
"Losing Larry is a major loss for us," Keiser said. "I've stepped up a lot in my role the past four or five weeks, and I just have to keep it going. Tourek is getting a lot more playing time now too. There's an expectation that the quality of the play doesn't drop."
Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget sacked Peyton Manning at the end of the game Sunday, and on Monday, Broncos interim coach Jack Del Rio asked the NFL to review whether the hit was legal.
The NFL determined it was.
"I guess it is a good hit then, a pretty good hit," Liuget said Wednesday. "I'm never in the game to hurt anyone. I was trying to just make a play. The league knows it wasn't a dirty hit."