Jackson Drama Continues as Chargers Face Seahawks

Vincent where are you?

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Vincent Jackson drama continues as Chargers face Seahawks.

    Philip Rivers planned to take a few minutes this week and scan back through the video of the last time San Diego played in Seattle.
     
    It'll be all too obvious for San Diego's quarterback who was around then but absent now: Vincent Jackson.
     
    San Diego (1-1) comes north Sunday to face the Seahawks, their former AFC West rival. While the Chargers are coming off an impressive 38-13 rout of Jacksonville last Sunday, it's the off the field soap opera between Jackson and the Chargers getting all the attention.

    Resolution in the contentious relationship between Jackson and the club might have arrived earlier this week had San Diego traded Jackson and in the process reduced his suspension from six games to four. But the Chargers held firm, keeping their unhappy receiver and risking the possibility he will refuse to take the field this season.

    The drama makes for great chatter, even if the Chargers aren't buying into the saga of Jackson's absence.
    "With all respect to Vincent, I think we miss him, we miss seeing him around, he's a good buddy of all of ours and a great teammate, but it really hasn't been a distraction," Rivers said.
     
    And now comes a match up with the Seahawks (1-1) in the stadium where Jackson enjoyed his first breakout game.

    It was Christmas Eve four years ago. Jackson was in his second season with the Chargers and trying to become the complementary receiver to go along with All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates. After being invisible most of the season, Jackson started for injured receiver Erik Parker that rainy afternoon.

     It turned into the best day of his young career. His five catches for 97 yards and two TDs were Jackson's career bests at that point. Jackson capped the day with a 37-yard TD reception from Rivers with 29 seconds left for a 20-17 win.

     And now with Jackson unavailable, the Chargers hope another of their young receivers can continue making up for his absence.

     "I think the way our guys have approached this speaks a lot to the maturity they have and the fact that they've been together and do understand the system of the National Football League and that there is a business side of it," San Diego coach Norv Turner. "That's not to say our guys wouldn't love to have those guys, certainly they would. But they've done a great job saying, 'Hey here's what it is and we're going to go."'

    What Rivers has gone with in the first two weeks is the trio of Malcolm Floyd, Buster Davis and Legedu Naanee. Along with Gates, the foursome have combined to grab 29 of Rivers' 44 completions.

     "From a playing standpoint, the guys that have been playing there hasn't been a drop off," Rivers said. "They've played outstanding."
    The Chargers passing game may be called upon even more this week with the uncertainty around running back Ryan Mathews. The rookie first-round pick has a high ankle sprain and his availability is likely to be a game-time decision.

    If Mathews can't go, the job of facing Seattle's fifth-best run defense would fall to Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles. Tolbert is coming off a career best 82 yards rushing and two touchdowns against Jacksonville.

    "It's going to be interesting to see which side gives first, because they've got a good run defense and we've got a good run offense, so it's going to be interesting to see what team breaks first in their schemes," Tolbert said.

    A slight adjustment in Seattle's defensive line has so far produced a stout run stopping defense. When Pete Carroll took over, the noted defensive guru decided he wanted more bulk on the line. The solution was moving tackle Red Bryant to end and essentially playing three defensive tackles at the line of scrimmage in the hopes the bigger bodies would clog running lanes.

    So far the move is working. Seattle held San Francisco's Frank Gore to 38 yards rushing in the opener. Knowshon Moreno managed just 51 yards last week.

    "We've got some hogs up front and those guys really honed in on they're not going to give up the run," Seattle linebacker David Hawthorne said. "Every week we approach this thing that's our No. 1 goal is to stop the run. I think a lot of guys just bought into it."

    Offensively, the Seahawks could use a more consistent performance from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who has four interceptions in two games. Carroll took the step this week of clearly stating that Hasselbeck gives Seattle the best chance to win, but the veteran must stop making mistakes to give the rebuilding Seahawks a chance.

    Last week, Hasselbeck was intercepted twice inside the Denver 10.

    Now he faces a San Diego defense that forced six turnovers, including four interceptions, against Jacksonville.

    "He wants to be a team that doesn't turn the ball over and that gets turnovers. That's the most important thing in the world to him," Hasselbeck said of Carroll. "There's also a fine line there. As a quarterback you have to play with aggressiveness and confidence and that kind of thing, but at the same time you have to be ultraconservative and careful with the ball."