The Los Angeles Chargers (9-3) are getting ready for their game against the Cincinnati Bengals (5-7) on Sunday at the StubHub Center. Although the Bengals record is a dismal, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn reminded the media that in the beginning of the season Cincinnati was 4-1. “They’re a good football team. They’ve had some injuries. They’re battling through those injuries and have lost a few lately, but this team has enough talent to challenge anybody on any given Sunday. Our focus definitely needs to be on this game and that’s where it is right now.”
One of the injuries Cincinnati is dealing with right now is their starting QB, Andy Dalton. While this puts the Bengals at some obvious disadvantages, Lynn had some caution about defending against Dalton’s back up, Jeff Driskel.
“He can do all of those things, the zone-read, run-pass option. I’m sure they’ll do more of that this week with him, but he also has a big arm. He can throw the ball around pretty well, too. He has two good receivers in [Tyler] Boyd and [John] Ross.
“Ross can score from anywhere on the field. He’s probably the biggest deep threat in the National Football League right now with his 4.22 speed, or whatever he ran at the combine. It was the fastest 40-yard dash I’ve ever seen at the combine, I can tell you that. They have some weapons — and those two running backs [Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard], my goodness. It’s hard to find two running backs that good in this league.”
Although the playoff prospects for Cincinnati don’t look very good right now, Coach Lynn said he is expecting a tough game on Sunday. “This is the NFL. Guys have pride. They’re NFL players. You have to prepare for them like everybody else whether they’re in it or out of it. This team is dangerous because this team needs to win out to get in as a wild card, probably. Their playoffs basically start this week. We have to be aware of that. The urgency that they’re going to play with and what they’re going to bring to the table.”
Running back Melvin Gordon III has been injured, but it looks like he might play. Lynn said he was running around the practice facility on Wednesday, so his progress looks good. The one way Lynn will know Gordon is ready to will be how well Gordon can change direction. Austin Ekeler will get the start if Gordon is unable to play. Plus they have Justin Jackson who has been showing some flash.
Lynn said Gordon is missed, “He’ll get back on the field as soon as he’s ready because we miss him. We need him. We’re going to make sure he’s right before he gets back on the football field.”
Quarterback Philip Rivers spoke with the media as well. Like the head coach, Rivers had no comment on offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who is being considered for the head coaching job at Georgia Tech. Like his coach, Rivers stayed focused on the next game.
“This is the team that we have a lot of respect for. As you hear me say every week, it’s the NFL. This is a defense that we have respect for and we know that AFC North is a tough division. They’re physical, they fly around and are competitive. We’ll have to rise to the challenge on Sunday.”
Rivers is pretty happy with his two primary targets, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. He hopes this Chargers offense can keep the Bengals defense off balance. Both Williams and Allen have scored touchdowns this season, which is just one of the many reasons the Chargers are challenging the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.
On an even brighter note: The Chargers just announced defensive tack Corey Liuget is the Chargers nominee for the NFL Walter Payton, Man of the Year Award. From the beginning of his career Liuget has had commitment to outstanding service to his community — “from participating in Play60 youth football camps, visiting kids in hospitals, speaking to high school students and kids in juvenile halls, taking kids shopping for holiday gifts at his annual Shop with a Charger event to working alongside law enforcement to raise funds for inner city youth sports programs.” — he is a great example for his teammates, the league and his fellow citizens.
Game time on Sunday will be 1:05 p.m.
Photos by Claudia Gestro
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