Chargers flying high with three-game win streak heading into London game vs. Titans
The Chargers concluded the Ohio portion of their next-game preparation Thursday and readied for their latest challenge:
Surviving an eight-hour flight to London.
“Well, if you get some sleep medicine,” linebacker Denzel Perryman said, “you should be all right.”
A Sunday date at Wembley Stadium opposite Tennessee awaits as the Chargers attempt to enter their off week on a four-game winning streak.
Both teams were scheduled to fly Thursday night, have meetings Friday morning and then practice in the afternoon before finally being permitted to crash in their beds.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said that at some point before returning to the field Friday, his players would go for a “walk through the countryside or whatever the hotel area is, just to try to get our legs going a little bit.”
For well-conditioned athletes who are typically kept to a strict regimen, this game represents a wild departure from the norm.
The Chargers generally do not practice in crisp mid-40s temperatures as they did Thursday.
They also routinely don’t spend so much time together that it’s as if they’re back living on campus.
“It can be a galvanizing experience for our football team,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “Being on the road, being away from home for two weeks. I think it’s good to get these guys together … It can definitely bring a team together.”
The Chargers began coaching their players on the importance of adjusting their sleep two weeks ago. Lynn said the team looked at “sleep patterns and sleep ideals” while putting together its work and travel schedules.
This franchise hasn’t played outside the United States in 10 years. Quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates are the only Chargers remaining who were in London in 2008 for a 37-32 loss to New Orleans.
“I think you definitely appreciate it,” Rivers said. “It’s a long way to go. I imagine it’s the last time that I’ll make this trip over there. Who knows? Unless we get put back on the circuit really quickly.”
On the run
The Titans have struggled running the ball. In being shut out 21-0 Sunday by Baltimore, they rushed for only 55 yards.
Part of the problem has been the lack of a deep threat on the outside, allowing opposing safeties to crowd the line of scrimmage.
This could play into one of the Chargers’ strengths. Derwin James, Jahleel Addae and Adrian Phillips each has been effective playing closer to the line.
Phillips, in particular, has provided a boost when the Chargers go with more defensive backs.
“A.P. can play in the box,” Lynn said. “He can play in the middle of the field. He can play the sky safety. He’s the versatility that we need to do all the things that we’re doing with the dime package. He really makes it work.”
Phillips, 26, is in his fourth season. He originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Texas and spent time on the Chargers practice squad.
Can I kick it?
The Chargers headed to London without announcing their plans at kicker for Sunday.
Lynn suggested this week that the status of Caleb Sturgis (quadriceps) might not be determined until just before kickoff.
Rookie Michael Badgley replaced Sturgis last week and was successful on all five of his extra-point tries and a 44-yard field goal.
Lynn said linebacker Jatavis Brown (groin) also could be a game-time decision. Brown, who was limited in practices in Cleveland, missed the game Sunday.
Before beginning his second stint as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator in January of 2016, Ken Whisenhunt was Tennessee’s head coach. He dismissed the idea that this game will have added meaning for him.
“You know, it’s a couple of years removed,” Whisenhunt said. “They’ve made changes. It’ll be good to see some of the players. I think, when you go through what we went through, even though it was a short time, you form bonds with guys.”
The Titans were 3-20 during Whisenhunt’s time before he was fired in November 2015.
The Chargers have won nine of their last 10 games against the Titans. … Special teams contributor Nick Dzubnar (hamstring) was added to the injury list Thursday. He was limited in practice. … The Chargers lead the AFC and are second in the league averaging 7.62 yards on first down.
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