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Chargers’ chief concern is the Broncos, but they could use some help from the Rams

Chargers’ chief concern is the Broncos, but they could use some help from the Rams
Rams tackle Rob Havenstein (79) stands with quarterback Jared Goff (16) and Austin Blythe at the Coliseum on Sunday. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Chargers will set aside their “Fight for L.A.” in Week 11 in favor of supporting a different campaign:

“Plight for K.C.”

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Trailing Kansas City by 1½ games in the AFC West, the Chargers’ efforts to win the division would be aided by a Rams’ victory over the Chiefs at the Coliseum on Monday.

So that matchup — along with, naturally, their game against Denver at StubHub Center on Sunday — highlights their weekend, right?

“I didn’t even know the Chiefs were playing the Rams this week,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “But we are chasing the Chiefs. They’re ahead of us right now … We need to stay close because we have another rematch with them.”

The Chargers visit Kansas City for a Thursday night game Dec. 13. The Chiefs won 38-28 when the teams opened the season at StubHub Center on Sept. 9.

Kansas City is 9-1 and has its off week following the visit to the Coliseum. The Chargers are 7-2 and have won six in a row.

Unlike 2017 when they began with four consecutive losses, the Chargers are in position to directly affect their postseason aspirations.

“We control what happens,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “I mean, we’re not, thankfully, in the situation we were last year at this point and watching and seeing who needed to do what. We’ve just got to worry about us.”

With their rise to a place among the top teams in the league, the Chargers have been generating more buzz nationally.

The attention climbed noticeably this week when Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa returned to practice for the first time since before the season began.

Bosa — who has been out because of a foot injury and could play against the Broncos — attracted a Chargers season-high for media members when he spoke in the locker room Thursday.

Also recently, running back Melvin Gordon appeared in-studio on one of ESPN’s more popular morning talk shows and safety Derwin James was the subject of a mural in Venice.

“Just more distractions, more national media and things like that pulling guys here and there,” Lynn said of dealing with the increased exposure that comes with winning. “So you’ve got to focus a little harder.”

For this team this weekend, that means concentrating on Denver to the point where the rival Chiefs can visit Southern California with the Chargers barely noticing.

Bosa practices again

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Bosa moved another step closer to making his season debut against Denver when he participated in a third straight practice in a limited capacity.

Lynn said an official decision on Bosa’s status probably would not be announced until Sunday morning. But if Bosa is able to make it through another workout Saturday, indications are he will play.

“We’ll let him work out [Saturday],” Lynn said. “I hate to say he’s going and then something happens [Saturday] and he’s not going. So we’ll just wait and see.”

Bosa hurt himself in practice in early August and then aggravated the injury in early September. He spent time in a cast and has been rehabilitating and working on his own for several weeks.

Tight end Antonio Gates (knee) also was held back in practice Friday, but it sounds as if he’ll play. Gates did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.

“He was limited a little bit,” Lynn said, “but he looked fine.”

Cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) was ruled out for the second straight game.

Kobe on hand

A team with plenty of playmakers added a significant one at the end of practice Friday when Kobe Bryant joined the Chargers

The five-time NBA champion and former Laker spoke to the team in the latest installment of what Lynn calls “Wise Words,” a weekly feature when someone is invited to speak to the players.

“Just seeing him watching practice, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s Kobe,’ ” rookie kicker Michael Badgley said. “Shaking his hand was surreal. I guess that’s what can happen in L.A.”

Bryant talked to the Chargers about the importance of finishing off their season and keeping their success in perspective. Lynn made a point to ask him about the killer instinct that helped define his career.

Bryant has office space in the same Costa Mesa business complex that houses the Chargers’ offices. Their practice field sits next to the structure.

Denver guard down

The Broncos lost left guard Max Garcia on Friday when tests showed he had a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

He became the Broncos’ third starting offensive linemen to suffer a season-ending injury, joining guard Ronald Leary (Achilles) and center Matt Paradis (leg).

Fifth-year veteran Billy Turner is expected to start in Garcia’s place against the Chargers. This will mark Denver's sixth different lineup along the offensive front in 2018.

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