Saturday, September 10, 2005 | Here are some things to watch for and storylines to follow as the Chargers look to go 1-0:

Home at Last. Three years have passed since San Diego hosted a Week 1 game. The Chargers’ quest to win back-to-back division titles for the first time since 1979-81 begins at Qualcomm Stadium against “America’s Team.” The Bolts have won their last four season openers at home, but extending the streak will be tough against Dallas. The Cowboys own the NFL’s second-highest winning percentage on Opening Day, starting the season with victory 30 times in their 45-year history.

The Big Tuna. Parcells enters his third season in Big D with great expectations. Dallas fans are counting on the magical touch he used to transform the Giants, Patriots and Jets from loveable losers to championship caliber squads in just a few seasons at the helm. Parcells already took the Cowboys from a 5-11 squad to a 10-6 playoff team in 2003. A 6-10 mark last season was a step in the wrong direction, which is why major changes were made during the offseason.

Reunited and It Feels So Good. Parcells is quite familiar with the Cowboys’ biggest acquisition, veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Parcells used the first pick in the 1993 NFL Draft to bring Bledsoe to New England, which sparked the Patriots’ rise to AFC Champions in 1996. Dallas’ success in 2005 hinges on whether or not Bledsoe emerges from the shadow of Troy Aikman’s legacy. Previous successors have failed miserably. As fate would have it, Aikman will be at Qualcomm providing color commentary on Bledsoe’s debut for Fox.

Reunited, Part II. Bledsoe is no stranger to a pair of key targets in the aerial attack. Wide receiver Terry Glenn, who was drafted by New England in 1996, caught at least 50 passes in four of six seasons playing with Bledsoe. Peerless Price teamed with Bledsoe in Buffalo back in 2002 and set career-best marks with 94 receptions for 1,252 yards.

Lucky 13. Two decades have passed since George Rogers tied John Riggins’ NFL record by scoring a touchdown in 13 straight games. LaDainian Tomlinson has a chance to make it a trio at the top if he finds the end zone against a Dallas defense that surrendered 14 rushing TDs last season.

Wits End. There will be a lot of finger pointing if San Diego falters on offense. Antonio Gates set an NFL record for tight ends with 13 touchdown catches in ’04, but Drew Brees will have to find another target in the red-zone this Sunday. Gates will be serving the final game of his three-game suspension for missing the Chargers’ deadline for reporting to training camp. Dallas features its own budding star, Jason Witten, who ranked second among NFL tight ends in receptions in ’04. He also established Dallas records for tight ends with 87 catches and 980 receiving yards.

Ready, Set … Drew. What are the odds of both starting QBs sharing the same first name? Pretty good if they were named John, but Drew has to be a serious long shot. After a few cold ones, try to place a wager with a pal that Drew will be the winning quarterback. Notable novelty aside, the outcome of this game comes down to which Drew – Brees or Bledsoe – makes the big play and fewest mistakes.

Quick Hits. Dallas hopes running back Julius Jones avoids the old sophomore jinx. Jones was impressive during the final seven weeks of ’04, tallying 803 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. The Chargers are the only team in the NFL that returns all 22 starters on offense and defense. Not to mention the punter, kicker and long snapper are also returning to their roles from ’04. Fans attending the game can contribute to a relief fund to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina. The American Red Cross will collect donations at gates around the stadium. The Alex Spanos family and the Chargers have offered to match all donations up to $150,000.

Kevin Aron is a freelance writer in San Diego and outright sports junkie. Kevin has worked in college sports information, sports agent offices and, most recently, as managing editor of for nearly five years.

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