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Category: San Diego Chargers

USC linebackers coach Joe Barry reportedly bound for Chargers

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Joe Barry, USC’s linebackers coach for the last two seasons, has reached agreement with the San Diego Chargers to become their linebackers coach, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported in this story.

Barry, 41, coached in the NFL for 10 seasons before joining Coach Lane Kiffin’s staff in 2010.

Barry could not be reached for comment. A USC spokesman said Kiffin declined to comment.

USC players, however, posted their thoughts via Twitter.

Linebacker Dion Bailey: "Sad day..I feel like crying..Happy for him though!! Chargers get ready For the best coach ever!!"

Barry’s departure leaves Kiffin with two vacancies on his staff. Willie Mack Garza resigned as defensive backs coach on the eve of the 2011 season.

More later at latimes.com/sports

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-- Gary Klein

Photo: USC linebackers coach Joe Barry. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times

Chargers say no move to L.A. in 2012

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The Chargers are staying in San Diego for at least another season.

The team is expected to release a joint statement with San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders today, saying both parties will continue to work on a building a new stadium there, ruling out the possibility of a relocation to Los Angeles in 2012.

"The City of San Diego and the Chargers continue to work closely together to explore publicly acceptable ways to build a Super Bowl-quality stadium on the bus maintenance yard site in the East Village of downtown San Diego," the statement reads. "To give this ongoing process every chance to succeed, the Chargers have announced that the team will not trigger the lease's termination clause in 2012. Both the Mayor’s Office and the Chargers look forward to continuing their joint efforts to build a multi-use stadium that will benefit the entire region."

The Chargers negotiated an escape clause in their lease at Qualcomm Stadium that each year affords them a three-month window during which they can negotiate with other cities and relocate without the threat of a lawsuit from San Diego, as long as the team pays off the existing bonds on Qualcomm.

Had the Chargers terminated their lease in 2012, they would have owed $23.98 million on the bonds. If they terminate in 2013, they will owe $22.015 million.

"Believe it or not, this is our 10th year working on this stadium issue," Mark Fabiani, the club's special counsel, said in a phone interview Monday. "So we feel like we've already been in it for the long haul."

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Photo: Antwan Barnes celebrates a sack in front of fans at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, where the Chargers will play for at least one more season. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

LaDainian Tomlinson says he's thought about retirement

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LaDainian Tomlinson, one of the greatest rushers in NFL history, admitted in a radio interview that the thought of retirement has crossed his mind.

The former Chargers and current Jets running back told San Diego radio station XX1090 AM on Friday that he is “contemplating retirement.”

The 32-year-old running back, who has played 11 years in the NFL, says its the first time he's had thoughts of calling it quits.

"That's what I told my coaches and told my agent and everybody," he said. "That's exactly what it is. This is the first time in my playing career that I've actually, honestly thought about this may be it for me. That's kind of where I am right now."

Tomlinson has Hall of Fame credentials; the five-time Pro Bowler is No. 5 on the all-time rushing list with 13,684 yards. Although he only had 729 combined yards rushing and receiving with three touchdowns this season, he believes he can still play and help the Jets.

"Yeah, I definitely think so," he said of still being able to play. "For one, my experience in the passing game, and I think I've proven this year that I'm still viable out of the backfield in one-on-one matchups and things like that. I still get open. I think the passing game, a lot of teams are throwing the ball these days and I think I'd help people a lot in the passing game."

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-- Dan Loumena

Photo: Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson, left, greets Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor, who has already announced his retirement, after their season finale. Credit: Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

Chargers say TV blackout for Broncos game to be lifted

Junior Seau

The San Diego Chargers' game against the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow on Sunday will be seen on local television, according to the team, which says it has sold enough tickets to lift an NFL blackout.

Tebow, an often-maligned young quarterback from the University of Florida, has led the Broncos (5-5) to four wins in their last five games, including three victories in a row.

Denver is one game behind the Oakland Raiders (6-4) in the AFC West standings. The Chargers, who are coming off a 31-20 loss to the Chicago Bears, and Kansas City Chiefs are tied for third in the division at 4-6.

Part of the festivities Sunday will include longtime All-Pro linebacker Junior Seau's induction into the Chargers' Hall of Fame.

He is to be introduced by Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts during the ceremony.

The game, which starts at 1:15 p.m., will be shown on Channel 2 in the Los Angeles area.

-- Dan Loumena

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Chargers linebacker Junior Seau celebrates a fumble recovery against the Chiefs in 2001. Credit: Los Angeles Times

San Diego Chargers, Norv Turner have been down this road before

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San Diego Chargers fans probably aren't feeling too chipper right now, with their team in a five-game tailspin, dropping to 4-6 and two games back in the AFC West after a 31-20 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

But there are still reasons for optimism. Struggling quarterback Philip Rivers actually played pretty well against the Bears -- if you don't count those two fourth-quarter interceptions.

Plus, these are the Chargers we're talking about. This is what they do. Forget about that 4-1 start -- that's just not the way things are supposed to go during the Norv Turner era.

The team has gotten off to a rocky start every season since Turner became coach (1-3 in 2007, 4-8 in 2008, 2-3 in 2009, 2-5 in 2010) but has made the playoffs every time except last year -- and even then it finished strong at 9-7.

At the 10-game mark in those seasons, the Chargers have been at .500 or below every time except 2009, when they were 7-3 and on their way to a spectacular 13-3 finish (and a spectacular choke job in the playoffs, losing in their first game, 17-14, to the New York Jets).

Like this year, they were 4-6 at this point in 2008. But they finished 8-8, won a weak AFC West and actually pulled off a playoff victory, 23-17, in overtime against the Indianapolis Colts in the wild-card round, before their season came to an end with a 35-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round.

So here they are again at 4-6 in a weak AFC West. Now that's more like it. It's time for another late-season playoff run. That's just what the Chargers are supposed to do in the Norv Turner era.

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-- Chuck Schilken

Photo: Norv Turner. Credit: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

Raiders pressure got to Chargers' Philip Rivers

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It was another bad outing Thursday for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who is suddenly putting up Tim Tebow performances as he failed to rally his team in a 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

With the Chargers threatening to tie it, a Rivers pass was intercepted in the end zone by Matt Giordano with 3:22 left. It was Rivers' NFL- and career-high 15th interception. Rivers was sacked on consecutive plays near midfield to end the game. He fumbled on the final play, giving him an NFL-high 19 turnovers.

Rivers completed 23 of 47 passes for 274 yards in the game. He was sacked six times as the Raiders overwhelmed the Chargers offensive line, which has been hampered by injuries.

"Obviously some of the offensive linemen went down and we smelled blood and we just went after him," Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. "All week our defensive coordinator said, 'Hey, they can score from anywhere on the field and it's going to be up to our defensive front to get pressure on the quarterback.' We knew we could get it done but it was going to be a collective effort."

San Diego struggled in the first half, going three-and-out four straight times after getting a 20-yard field goal by Nick Novak on the opening drive.

Rivers was only 4 of 11 for 44 yards for a passer rating of 49.1 in the first half.

Meanwhile, Radiers quarterback Carson Palmer, who started the season in semi-retirement, finished the game 14 of 20 for 299 yards, with one interception.

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Photo: Philip Rivers is sacked by Tommy Kelly of the Raiders. Credit: Mike Blake / Reuters.

 

 

LaDainian Tomlinson says Philip Rivers looks distracted

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Former San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who now plays for the New York Jets, says Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers looks "distracted."

“I’ve always said this; ‘It’s hard to be ‘the guy,’” Tomlinson said. “When they say this is your team, it’s hard to be the guy, because you get all the questions about what’s wrong and what’s right.”

Tomlinson and Rivers were teammates on the Chargers from 2004 to 2009.

When told of the comments, Rivers had this to say to the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“I don’t feel that burden, nor has it had anything to do with the struggles. People say, ‘It’s your team.’ I never bought into that."

Rivers has thrown more interceptions, 11, than touchdown passes, seven, this season, but the Chargers are still tied for first place in the AFC West with a 4-3 record.

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--Houston Mitchell

Photo: Philip Rivers during Sunday's game against Kansas City. Credit: Charlie Riedel / Associated Press.

Antonio Gates a non-factor in Chargers' loss to Patriots

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Antonio Gates was missing in action for the San Diego Chargers against arguably the best team in the NFL, the New England Patriots, on Sunday.

For the first time since 2008 -- a stretch of 34 games -- the star tight end was held without a catch in the Chargers' 35-21 loss to the Patriots.

"They would put a corner or safety on me, or two safeties," said Gates, who had eight catches for 74 yards in a 24-17 win over Minnesota the previous week. "They did a lot of different things to take me out of the game."

Gates has 537 receptions for 7,079 yards in nine NFL seasons, all with the Chargers. His 69 career touchdowns are second all-time for the Chargers and his 89 receptions in 2005 are tied for third-best in a single season in team history.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw Gates' way only twice Sunday. One of those passes was intercepted by Sergio Brown to end a San Diego drive that had reached the New England red zone with San Diego trailing, 20-7, early in the third quarter.

The other was a deep pass that drew an interference call on Brown, setting up a three-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson to help the Chargers pull to within 20-14 early in the fourth quarter.

“We just hit him,” Brown said of Gates. “Hit him as much as we could and don't let him get started because as he builds — as he gets up the field — he runs better routes. So we tried to get him close to the line of scrimmage and stopped him before we get going.”

The double-teams on Gates opened things up for Jackson, who had 15 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Rivers finished with 378 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but he and the Chargers could not keep up with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who passed for 423 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

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-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: New England Patriots defensive back Sergio Brown is called for pass interference against San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. Credit: David Butler II / US Presswire

Question of the day: Which NFL team that didn't make the playoffs is in best position to get there next season?

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Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Steve Svekis, South Florida Sun Sentinel

The San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys would be pretty safe selections, and the Detroit Lions have loads of young talent and will surge if they can keep Matthew Stafford on the field. However, accounting for all factors that can put a team into the postseason, the St. Louis Rams are the belle of the ball. Playing in a soft division that was won by a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks, the Rams have the most important position taken care of, with Sam Bradford at quarterback. They do need to build up their interior offensive line and keep an eye on running back Steven Jackson, who is approaching 2,000 career carries and saw his yards per carry drop to a career-worst 3.8 this season. Still, it would be surprising to see Bradford, with a year under his belt, not get this team well clear of the field in the NFC West.

Ken Murray, Baltimore Sun

Five new teams made the playoffs this season -- down from six the year before -- and there is no shortage of candidates for 2011, if there is a 2011 season. Perennials like the Cowboys, Giants and Chargers will contend. Several other teams just need a competent quarterback to get back, including the Dolphins, Titans, Cards and Vikings.

But the teams that intrigue me most are the Bucs, Rams, Texans and Raiders. The Bucs have a difficult path in the NFC South, but Josh Freeman could make the difference. The Rams have a clear shot in the NFC West if Sam Bradford improves. The Texans have a marvelous offense and the makings of a defense that could, potentially, challenge the Colts in their division.

But the team that should make the biggest jump in 2011 is the Raiders, who went 6-0 in the AFC West and somehow still lost the division. Hue Jackson has resurrected Jason Campbell. If he's the next coach, he'll push them over the top.

Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune

You can make a strong case that the Bucs, Rams, Chargers or Cowboys are near playoff locks for next year, but don’t forget the Lions. I know.  Ha, ha, ha. That’s funny. What’s not funny is that they won their last four games and officially finished as the hottest team in the NFC. The Lions won six games overall even though they started three quarterbacks and Matthew Stafford played in only three games.  This is a young, improving team that should hit its stride next season, in Jim Schwartz’s third year on the job. They have one of the best defensive lines in the game and some dangerous skill position players on offense. If General Manager Martin Mayhew can plug a couple of holes in the lineup, the Lions are going to be a contender in 2011.

[Updated at 12:43 p.m.

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

Tampa Bay is a team whose arrow is clearly pointing up. OK, so they might not be the best team in the league, as Coach Raheem Morris said at the middle of the season. But they finished 10-6 and tied a franchise record by going 6-2 on the road. Josh Freeman broke a club record with a touchdown pass in 13 consecutive games, and LeGarrette Blount led all rookies in rushing with 1,007 yards. The thing I really like about the Buccaneers is the fact that they’ve had a lot of success, yet they’re very young. In fact, they’re the first team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to start at least 10 rookies and finish with a winning record. They have the potential to be good for a while.]

Photo: San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers prepares to throw down field. Credit: Ron Chenoy / U.S. Presswire

Veteran linebacker Shawne Merriman to be released by Chargers

Merriman_225 Three-time pro bowler Shawne Merriman has played his last game with the San Diego Chargers, the team announced Wednesday.

The six-year veteran linebacker was placed on injured reserve with a calf injury and a "minor-injury designation," which means he must be released when he is healthy, according to the Chargers' website.

Merriman missed the season opener against Kansas City with an Achilles injury and saw limited action the next week against Jacksonville. He injured his calf in Week 3 against Seattle, missed the next game against Arizona and re-injured his calf this past weekend against Oakland.

The NFL defensive rookie of the year in 2005, Merriman had his best season in 2006, when he led the league with 17 sacks despite missing the first four games of the season after being suspended for testing positive for steroid use.

He has been plagued by injuries the past three seasons.

-- Chuck Schilken

Photo: Shawne Merriman. Credit: Kyle Terada / US Presswire

LaDainian Tomlinson released by San Diego Chargers

Tomlinson The San Diego Chargers released running back LaDainian Tomlinson on Monday, bringing his nine-year career with the team to an end.

The salary cap move had been anticipated because Tomlinson was owed a $2-million bonus next month.

Tomlinson rushed for 730 yards and averaged 3.3 yards per carry last season, both lows for his career. He has rushed for 12,490 career yards and has set or tied 28 team records with the Chargers. In addition, he set an NFL record for most touchdowns in a season with 31 in 2006.

“It has been a privilege to work with him and witness his entire career. I’m proud of him and grateful to him for the way he has carried himself both on and off the field," Chargers President Dean Spanos said in a statement. “No matter where he chooses to continue his career, in my mind LT will always be a San Diego Charger. His legacy as one of the greatest running backs the game has ever seen will be as a Charger.”

We'll have more on this soon at latimes.com/sports.

-- Austin Knoblauch

Photo: LaDainian Tomlinson. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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