Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Chargers 2-2 in home openers under Turner

Posted by: Mark Craig under On the road, Quarterbacks, Vikings, AFC, Adrian Peterson Updated: September 6, 2011 - 10:25 AM

Sure, the Vikings would like a December trip to San Diego for weather purposes. But looking at the traditionally slow starts the Chargers have had under Norv Turner, they might prefer opening the season with the Chargers, even if they have to do it on the road.

With the players off today and the coaches and personnel department seemingly set with the 53 players they'll take into Week 1, let's take a look at five things you might want to know about the Chargers. It starts with Turner and those not-so-peppy starts:

1, Starting sloooooowly.

The Chargers have won three AFC West titles and advanced to one AFC title game in Turner's four seasons. But each of those seasons has started off 2-3. Turner also is 2-2 in home openers in San Diego. A year ago, the Chargers couldn't catch up and missed the playoffs when they were heavily favored to win the division.

2, No. 1 not good enough.

The Chargers led the league in total offense and total defense a year ago. That tells you all you need to know about statistics. Clearly not happy with its defense, the Chargers made two significant additions when they signed ILB Takeo Spikes and SS Bob Sanders. If Sanders, the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, can stay healthy -- a big if considering he's missed 39 of 48 games the past three years -- the Chargers expect to be better defensively.

3, First rematch with AD

The Chargers haven't seen Adrian Peterson since Nov. 4, 2007. That's the day Peterson, a rookie at the time, set the NFL record for rushing yards in a game. He had 296 yards, including 253 after halftime. Most of San Diego's defense has turned over since then. OLB Shaun Phillips didn't play in that game, and DE Luis Castillo was injured in the first half.

4, Faster on defense?

Three areas the Chargers wanted to upgrade were linebacker, team speed and special teams. That's why they kept 11 linebackers on the roster, including including Na'il Diggs, whom they signed off waivers (Rams) on Saturday. Diggs, Spikes and Travis LaBoy are three veteran linebackers added since last season. Turner said he thinks the Chargers have improved their team speed this season. He'll find out in Week 1 against Peterson.

5, Rivers looks ready to roll.

QB Philip Rivers was awful in that loss to the Vikings four years ago. He completed just 19 of 42 passes for 197 yards, no TDs and an interception. Rivers has grown into one of the league's better quarterbacks. This preseason, he completed 68.9 percent of his passes with four TDs, one pick and a 114.8 passer rating. Receiver Vincent Jackson had 10 catches for 181 yards. RB Ryan Mathews, hoping to bounce back from an injury-plagued year, averaged 7.8 yards on 24 carries and scored two touchdowns.

 

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