The Morning Report
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Sunday’s match-up at noisy Arrowhead looked to be another challenge in Phillip Rivers’ development into a tested pro quarterback. In his sixth game as a starter, Rivers faced a hostile crowd and constant pressure from the Chiefs defense. And he looked a lot like a man still finding his way in the NFL.

The game didn’t start well for the Chargers, as a long runback by Michael Turner on the opening play was negated by a penalty and a LT fumble gave Kansas City great field position. A Rivers fumble and interception allowed the Chiefs to jump out to a 20-3 lead. Despite a valiant comeback effort in the second half, River looked rattled by the pressure. He’d better get used to it, ’cause that’s exactly how the rest of the teams on the Chargers schedule will deal with him until he proves he can handle it.

Two bits of news may be more damaging than Sunday’s loss: Shaun Phillips’injury and the steroid allegations against Shawne Merriman. That’s half the linebacking corps gone for the next four games. The team says Phillips will be out four to six weeks healing a calf injury he suffered against K.C. on Sunday.

According to a report from ESPN.com, Merriman has been suspended by the NFL for alleged steroid use. The ESPN.com story states last year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year will be suspended four games. First you have Foley’s follies with the law (DUI charges) then Terrence Kiel’s five felony drug charges. Then you add injuries to Igor Olshansky and now Phillips to the steroids allegations against Merriman. From a strictly football perspective, this defense is decimated.

From a fan perspective, it’s getting harder and harder to back this team, which is starting to look more like an old school Raiders team than the squad led by Drew Brees the last few years.

– CHRIS NIXON

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