Larry English of the San Diego Chargers prepares to tackle Darrius Heyward-Bey of the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2010 in San Diego, California.
On Tuesday, it was announced that linebacker and pass rush specialist Dwight Freeney would go on injured-reserve. Freeney, 33, will have season-ending surgery due to a torn quadriceps tendon he obtained Sunday while playing the Dallas Cowboys.
Although Freeney had only one half-sack this season, the seven-time Pro Bowler caused chaos for quarterbacks and his threat on the field gave the rest of the defense an advantage, safety Eric Weddle said.
"You can't replace a guy like that," Weddle said. "Teams had to account for him. He was very rarely getting single-man blocks. And when he was, he was getting pressure on the quarterback every time.
"We're used to the injuries, honestly. It happens to us every year for some reason. He'll be dearly missed. We just gotta rally up. Everyone has to play better and tougher and rely on each other."
Next Man Up
With Freeney on IR, linebacker Larry English will be expected to step up.
"It's going to be key for me this week to come in and help the team, and fill the void and be out there and make plays," English said. "I'm just gonna go out there and play my game and really execute."
English, a first-round draft pick in 2009, has been hampered by injuries most of his career. The 27-year-old has only four NFL starts and is looking to turn the corner in 2013. So far, he's been healthy since coming into camp in late July.
"I feel great," English said. "I've been able to come out of each week really feeling healthy and I think I've done a great job of staying on top of my health.
"When you go through injuries for two or three years there like I did, you really do appreciate and realize how big of a job of it is to keep your body healthy. I'm very grateful. I'm grateful to be feeling as healthy as I am."
Linebacker Thomas Keiser, who spent two seasons with the Carolina Panthers (appearing in 14 games and registering nine tackles and 4.5 sacks), was signed off the practice squad Tuesday to help fill Freeney's void.
"I'm ridiculously excited," Keiser said. "The practice squad is a nice opportunity and everything, but it takes away the best part of the game, which is playing on Sunday … and I don't take that lightly.
"I was on a roll in Carolina where I was active until I went on IR [left elbow], and I came back here and was ready to go. Unfortunately things didn't work out that way. All that's in the past now and I'm active."
After five seasons with the Titans and this preseason with the 49ers, wide receiver and kick returner Lavelle Hawkins is now a San Diego Charger.
Hawkins was signed to the team Tuesday, after it was announced that wide receiver Malcom Floyd would go on IR with a neck injury he sustained in the second game of the season.
Hawkins got the phone call while at the airport, heading to a workout he said he didn't really want to go to in Washington.
"I got the call at 2:10 and my flight was leaving at 2:25, so when I got that call I was real happy about that," he said. "Then I ran out of there.”
When asked how the team has welcomed him, Hawkins replied: "The guys here are really cool and calm. I think it’s a California thing. Guys are just real chill."
The Chargers face their foe Sunday in Oakland, in a game that starts at 8:35 p.m. PT due to baseball playoffs at the O.co Coliseum.
"Obviously we know what it means to the community here," said quarterback Philip Rivers. "It’s probably the biggest rivalry for our fans. It is for us as well."
This will be the first game the Chargers play against a team in their division.
“Raider week, Chief week, Bronco week, it’s a division game," Rivers said. "Any division game, they’re all thought of the same way inside this locker room."
For the second time this season, Philip Rivers was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Before this year, Rivers had last received the recognition in 2008. It's the first time the quarterback has received the award multiple times in the same season.
"I think it’s a credit to our offense," Rivers said. "There’s a lot of guys playing well. The guys up front are doing an unbelievable job. [Antonio] Gates has ten catches and a lot of the other guys contributed. Danny [Woodhead] caught two touchdowns. It takes a lot of guys to play well at the quarterback position. There’s no mystery to it. It takes all eleven of us and hopefully we can keep things rolling.”
Rivers completed 35 of 42 passes Sunday and threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns.