He’s a seven-time Pro Bowler who is assembling a Hall of Fame career and has thrown more touchdown passes than all but five NFL quarterbacks.
But Philip Rivers acknowledged Thursday that there was something special this week in being labeled just “pretty good.”
“I guess I’ve made it,” he said, laughing. “I didn’t know he was doing his ESPN top 30.”
No one did until Jalen Ramsey’s critique of the league’s quarterbacks was made public as part of an interview the Jacksonville cornerback did with GQ magazine.
Ramsey was particularly harsh on Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (“overrated”), Baltimore’s Joe Flacco (“sucks”) and Buffalo rookie Josh Allen (“trash”).
So, his “pretty good” assessment of the Chargers’ quarterback was glowing by comparison.
“When you have the kind of year he had and you’re a corner, you know, it’s a little bit of that never-lose mentality, no reason to hold back,” Rivers said. “Sometimes, those types of corners are the most dangerous.”
Unless the Chargers and Jaguars meet in the playoffs, Rivers won’t have to deal with Ramsey during the 2018 season, which, for Rivers, begins with Saturday’s preseason game against Seattle at StubHub Center.
Entering his 13th year as a starter, Rivers is scheduled to make his first appearance of the preseason. Coach Anthony Lynn said it still hasn’t been determined how long Rivers will play.
“I’m real excited to get back out there … and get the little game juices flowing a little bit,” Rivers, 36, said. “It will be good to be out there.”
Cardale Jones and Geno Smith, competing to be Rivers’ backup, combined to go 20 for 35 for 268 yards in the Chargers’ opening preseason game at Arizona. Fourth-stringer Nic Shimonek, an undrafted rookie, also appeared.
A year ago, Rivers played one series in his first exhibition game, completing five of six passes and leading the offense on a touchdown drive before departing.
“Four quarters,” Rivers joked Thursday when asked how long he’d like to play against the Seahawks. “I’ve tried to get better. I used to struggle mentally in these preseason games because you know you’re not going to be in there long.”
He explained that the problem is trying to do too much given the limited number of chances that will be available.
So instead of treating it like a regular game, Rivers said he has had a tendency to attempt to do something spectacular even when such an opportunity doesn’t present itself.
“Then you throw an interception and it ruins the night,” he said. “You stand over there going, ‘What in the world did I throw that ball for?’ I’ve tried to be better at pretending I’m in there for the whole game.”
Rivers capped his only series in that 2017 preseason debut with a five-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates.
That play won’t be repeated Saturday as Gates remains a free agent and the Chargers continue to evaluate the tight end options they have in camp.
“I’ve got no new updates on those conversations,” said Rivers, who has been in contact with his longtime teammate. “If I was into all the social media, I could have screenshot a couple out there, but I’ve got nothing new.”
The Chargers and Gates still could work out a deal, particularly if the team is unsatisfied with its tight end play in the absence of Hunter Henry, who tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in May.
Gates, 38, has spent each of his 15 seasons with the Chargers. He caught 30 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns in 2017.
“Obviously, if he’s here one of these days the next three weeks that would be great,” Rivers said. “I don’t think it needs to be real soon. I feel like if there’s one guy who would know what to do and would pick up [things] pretty quickly it would be him.”
Lynn and general manager Tom Telesco will be among a contingent traveling to Stockton on Friday for the funeral of Faye Spanos, who died last week at 92.
She was the wife of Alex Spanos, who purchased the Chargers in 1984, and the mother of Dean Spanos, the team’s chairman.
The Chargers will conduct a moment of silence Saturday before their game against Seattle.