After Week 2 quarterback crunch, Chargers’ Philip Rivers counts blessings, consecutive starts

Eli Manning, left,  and Philip Rivers were traded for each other after the 2004 draft.
Eli Manning, left, and Philip Rivers were traded for each other after the 2004 draft. The Giants benched Eli Manning this week.
(Denis Poroy / Associated Press)

His dependability is such that, over the last 13-plus seasons, the only thing as guaranteed to start a Chargers game has been the coin toss.

On Sunday, Philip Rivers will make his 211th consecutive regular-season start and 222nd in a row counting the playoffs.

The perspective on those numbers — topped in NFL history only by Brett Favre — swelled even larger this week in light of the injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees, and the demotion of Eli Manning.

Among the NFL’s old-school quarterbacks, Rivers just keeps winding.


“I don’t think you ever take it for granted,” he said Wednesday. “You just realize it doesn’t last forever. Not that I needed a reminder of how fleeting it is and how, on any given play, you can be out. But seeing that this weekend will remind you in a hurry.”

Roethlisberger will sit out the rest of the season because of an elbow injury and Brees will be out at least a month after having surgery on his thumb. Manning, who started 210 consecutive regular-season games in a streak that ended last year, has been benched by the New York Giants in favor of rookie Daniel Jones.

Manning and Rivers were selected first and fourth overall, respectively, in 2004 and then traded for each other.

“I’ve been blessed to be healthy enough to be out there every week,” said Rivers, who also credited his offensive linemen over the years. “So, thankful for that. There’s probably a little element of toughness in there somewhere.

“That’s one thing I’ve always … sometimes you can’t help it. But, thankfully, I’ve been able to be healthy enough, and [it’s] always been important to me to be ready to go every week.”

Two weeks into the season, a string of injuries has exhausted the Chargers’ depth and thrust players into strange positions. Can they survive?

Anthony Lynn said that when he accepted the job as Chargers coach in 2017, he was encouraged to be inheriting a durable quarterback. He called Rivers’ consistent availability “one of Phil’s biggest skill sets.” He also wanted to move on to another topic as soon as possible.

“I hope not,” Lynn said when asked whether he feared jinxing Rivers and the Chargers by talking about this. “I didn’t want to answer, to be honest with you.”

Rivers, 37, is coming off a game in which he had one of the longest runs of his career, a 12-yard scramble to convert third and 10 against Detroit. He acknowledged feeling “uncomfortable” when he has to run because defenders are closing from all angles.

On that play, Next Gen Stats clocked Rivers’ top speed at 15.85 mph. By comparison, Cleveland wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. reached 21.7 mph on an 89-yard touchdown reception Monday.

“Naturally, right, they say you move faster when something’s chasing you,” Rivers said. “I knew they were close. I’m already uncomfortable out there in space and they feel a heck of a lot closer even than they are.”

Gordon: Day 56

Melvin Gordon’s holdout reached 56 days Wednesday, the two-time Pro Bowl running back still away from the team in a dispute over a contract extension. During a social-media video chat this week, Gordon said, “I’m going to somewhere” this season.

He has asked for a trade and the Chargers have granted his representatives permission to seek a deal. So far, there has been little progress on that front.

What went wrong and what worked for the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday? Here’s what we learned from the team’s loss to the Detroit Lions.

In order to earn credit for this season and become an unrestricted free agent in 2020, Gordon must report no later than Nov. 29. The team still could franchise tag him next year and control his rights for the next two seasons. The tag for running backs this year was $11.214 million.

Meanwhile, in the Chargers locker room, Gordon’s teammates have so far remained committed to him.

“I’m always going to support this guy no matter what he wants to do,” center Mike Pouncey said. “Melvin Gordon is going to be my friend way after football. We can’t play football forever. Me and Melvin will have a friendship forever.

“If he wants to come back, we’d love to have him back. He’s an awesome football player, awesome running back. If he thinks it’s best for him to hold out, I’m going to support him doing that, too.”

Addae returns

It has been almost three years since the Chargers played Houston. But one of the Texans on Sunday will be very familiar to the home team. Safety Jahleel Addae spent six years with the Chargers before he was released in March.

Through two games with Houston, he has played 74 snaps, 45 on defense and 29 on special teams.

“He’s just a really good teammate,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “He helps us in a lot of ways … Just a great guy, a really good guy to have on the team. I’ve enjoyed coaching him.”

Injury updates

Linebackers Denzel Perryman (ankle) and Jatavis Brown (ankle), wide receiver Mike Williams (knee) and safety Roderic Teamer (hamstring) were full participants in practice after spending last week on the injury report.

Lynn said he hoped Perryman would be able to play more Sunday after being limited to three special-teams snaps over the first two games. He also said Teamer is “going to get a lot of reps this week” as the Chargers search for ways to replace injured safety Adrian Phillips.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen (knee) and kicker Michael Badgley (groin) were limited in practice. Lynn said punter Ty Long would kick against the Texans if Badgley is again unavailable.