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American Football: Chargers QB situation unsettled

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posted on Sep, 1 2004 @ 05:44 PM
Chargers are still trying to figure out who theirs is.

Heading into Thursday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers, the competition between rookie Philip Rivers and Drew Brees remains wide open even though Rivers has been in camp less than two weeks.

"We really don't have to make that decision right now," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "The competition is still open and I'm not going to handicap it just yet."

Brees has started the past two years, but the team soured on him when he threw 15 interceptions and only 11 touchdowns last season, finishing as the AFC's 15th-rated quarterback.

Rivers is clearly the quarterback of the future after San Diego got him from the New York Giants in a deal for Eli Manning after the Giants had taken him with the fourth pick. But a contract dispute led to a holdout and Rivers missed 29 practices and two exhibition games, seemingly pushing that future off.

Rivers made his first pro appearance last week against Seattle, going 5-for-14 for 79 yards in two interceptions in a rough debut.

"You learn from it," Rivers said. "I didn't want to struggle and throw the picks. I didn't expect to do that, but I was prepared that if I hit some bumps that I got to understand that. It's part of it. Not be satisfied with it, but know it's part of it."

Brees is 26-of-40 for 361 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions in three exhibition contests and is hoping to keep the starting role.

"Obviously, that is a decision Marty is going to make," Brees said. "He told Philip and I from the beginning that it is going to be a competition."

The 49ers also will play their starting quarterback more than most teams this week as Tim Rattay tries to find his rhythm before the opener against Atlanta.

Rattay has played only one game this preseason after being slowed by a sore forearm for most of training camp. Rattay went 7-for-10 for 51 yards last week against Minnesota.

"We as a staff feel that our first offense is going to play a little more than they normally would because Tim needs to get some turns out there," coach Dennis Erickson said. "That could be two series, that could be three series. I'm not sure, but it would be more than some played the last preseason game."

The 49ers also hope to see more of rookie receiver Rashaun Woods, who missed the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury and didn't have a ball thrown to him last week at Minnesota.

The Niners hope a strong performance from their first-string offense can help the team avoid going winless in the preseason for the first time since 1974.

"It's a deal where the coaches are still trying to learn who's good and who's not," Woods said. "I think the main thing for this team right now is, as a player, is just to continue just to try to do things the best way that we can. That's really all that we can control."

Both teams also expect to see their star linebackers on the field for the first time this summer.

San Diego's Donnie Edwards severely cut his left calf in an accident at home just before training camp started and has missed the first three exhibitions.

"I'm happy just to get back on the field to practice," Edwards said. "It's been fun the last couple of days and I'm looking forward to playing.

Edwards said it's been difficult picking up his reads, "because when you're injured, I'm not really getting my run reads from my wife or from my dogs or anyone at home. It's good for me to be on the field just to get a feel of the offense of how it's reacting to some of our different defensive schemes."

San Francisco's Julian Peterson, who ended a 28-day holdout last week, is expected to play a couple of series Thursday. Peterson began practicing with the team again Sunday and has looked sharp and in excellent condition.

"He's picking it up really well," Erickson said. "I know the defensive coaches are excited about how he's picked things up and where he's at right now, as far as the mental aspect of it."

The Chargers will once again rest star running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who has had only two carries in the preseason as Schottenheimer tries to protect his most important player.

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