SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts drops back to pass during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on September 22, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Colts Are Comin'
The Colts, led by second-year quarterback Andrew Luck, have been riding a hot hand. Sitting at 4-1 -- having been victorious their last three games -- they will take the field at Qualcomm Stadium Monday night against a 2-3 Chargers team that seemingly broke down in Oakland last week.
"They’ve got a great quarterback," said head coach Mike McCoy. "He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. And their defense speaks for itself. Historically, they’ve always gotten after the quarterback. With 98 [Robert Mathis] off the edge, he’s not only a sack guy, but he’s a strip guy, where it’s going to be sack fumbles which he’s done throughout his career."
Mathis has 9.5 sacks on the season.
The Chargers not only have to deal with a quarterback who is more mobile than he's often given credit for, but also a running game that now includes Trent Richardson and has more than 700 yards on the season. The Colts have averaged more than 100 yards rushing in each of their first five games.
The Chargers rank 26th in rushing yards allowed, allowing an average of 117.2 yards per game.
"We've got to tackle Richardson and also contain Andrew Luck, because he can run also," said Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget. "Trent is explosive and he's definitely a good runner."
Added linebacker Manti Te'o, who is familiar with Richardson from college: "He’s very strong and when you play against a guy like that, everyone needs to get to the ball. Everyone has to approach him, wrap him up, come at him with some intent and just drive your feet. There’s not a special formula. You just have to tackle the man.”
O-Line Go Round
The Chargers continue to battle injuries on the offensive line, this week with swing tackle Mike Harris being placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury he sustained playing the Raiders.
"I hate to say it, this is one of those years," McCoy said. "That’s what happens from time to time and guys go down, you’ve got to move guys. We’re always going to try to play the best five. It’s going to change from week to week with injuries and we’ve got to move guys around."
Harris, an undrafted free agent who (somewhat heroically) stepped in last season at left tackle after starter Jared Gaither couldn't play, fought his way onto the 53-man roster this season. With injuries to several offensive linemen recently, Harris was a valuable backup among the rotation.
"I hate to have lost Mike Harris for the year," said quarterback Philip Rivers. "He started a bunch of games for us last year and he has stepped up tremendously over the past few weeks, especially after coming in against Tennessee.
"When you have a guy like that who has the experience that is now going to be your swing tackle, you hate to lose him. I appreciate his effort and how hard he fought."
Right tackle D.J. Fluker did not practice today (calf), but the team did get back left tackle King Dunlap, who suffered a concussion against the Tennessee Titans and missed the last two games. Today was Dunlap's first day back on the field.
"It's a great addition to have back," McCoy said.
Now You See It, Now You Don't
The Monday Night Football game against the Indianapolis Colts is in jeopardy of being blacked out in San Diego, as more than 9,000 tickets still remain unsold.
"It's highly likely it will be blacked out," a team source said.
If the tickets go unsold, the nationally-televised ESPN game will still air in Los Angeles and Orange County … just not in San Diego.
The deadline for the television restriction is Friday at 5:40 p.m. PT. If the game is indeed blacked out, it will be the first MNF blackout in 13 years.