|LT Jared Gaither made an appearance at Chargers practice Wednesday, participating in individual drills for the first time since being hurt July 27. (US Presswire)|
Reporters and Chargers staff did a double take when they spotted LT Jared Gaither (back spasms) at practice Wednesday. Gaither (6-foot-9, 340 pounds) was limited and only participated in individual drills. It was the first participation in a practice for the protector of QB Philip Rivers' blind side since July 27, when Gaither was carted off the field during the first full practice of training camp with a “full-body” cramp.
“This has been a long process and I'm just excited to get to this point,” Gaither said. “Every day will be another step and another step.”
Whether Gaither can take those steps fast enough to return to action this week is yet to be seen. “That's my focus, to play this Sunday,” Gaither said. “Get ready for the Kansas City Chiefs and to stay on course. I feel good, making progress getting back out there.”
The sore back has made it difficult for Gaither to stay in cardiovascular shape. “[Gaither] has a lot of conditioning work to do,” coach Norv Turner said. “He hasn't been very active.”
Gaither admitted it's been hard for him to stay in playing shape.
“Well, it was tough,” Gaither said. “I will just come out here every day and work hard to get back to normal. It won't be long. It may be in Kansas City, and I am looking forward to that.”
Turner didn't rule out the possibility of Gaither playing this week.
“I wouldn't want to speculate on that,” Turner said. “I am anxious to see how he is tomorrow. Maybe if he is fine and everything is good, then maybe he could take a couple of reps.”
The Chargers are relatively healthy. It's hard to imagine a scenario where Turner would put Gaither on the game-day roster to only play a few reps because it would mean making a player inactive who could contribute more during the game.
Floyd signs extension: WR Malcom Floyd signed a three-year contract extension through the 2015 season Wednesday. Floyd (6-5, 225) signed a two-year deal shortly after the NFL lockout ended last season. He has a 17.9-yard average per catch since he joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2004. His career totals include 190 catches for 3,397 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Over the 2010-11 seasons, Floyd averaged 19.7 yards per catch on 80 passes for 1,573 yards and 11 touchdowns. He leads the Chargers this season with 13 catches for 227 yards (17.5 ypc).
Mathews looks for balance: RB Ryan Mathews is trying to find balance between making a second and third effort and securing the ball. He had a crucial fumble on the Falcons 2-yard line Sunday.
“I am just trying to get as many yards as possible,” Ryan said of the play. “That's where I started messing up; trying to get the extra yard and the ball obviously came loose.”
But Mathews said he doesn't want to have the mindset that he can't go after extra yards and miss out on the opportunity of making a big play. “It happened,” Mathews said. “I am glad it happened now. Just like my injury (broken clavicle), it happened early. It opens your eyes a little more. I'm just going to go back to the basics and start all over with my training.”
Meachem still eyeing 1,000 yards: WR Robert Meachem is off to a slow start with only six catches for 92 yards in three games. His best performance was last week when he had four receptions for 43 yards. “Honestly, we are getting on the same page,” Meachem said of his relationship with Rivers. “This week we are just looking forward to keep going what we are doing.”
When Meachem signed as a free agent from the Saints in the offseason, Turner said he has the potential to be a 1,000-yard receiver. Meachem said he's still shooting to meet that goal. “Why would you play this game if that wasn't one of your goals?” Meachem said. “You have to have high goals to be someone special in this league.”
Focus on Charles: Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles leads the league in rushing with 323 yards. Charles had 33 carries for 233 yards (7.1 avg.) against the Saints last week. The performance included a franchise-best 91-yard TD run. He also caught six passes for 55 yards (9.2 avg.) for a total of 288 all-purpose yards.
“You can't relax against him,” Turner said. “At any point he's capable of hitting a crease and going.”
OLB Shaun Phillips believes Charles will again be a focal point of the Chiefs' offense this week. “I don't think Kansas [City] is going to come in and sling the ball around because they have a dynamic running back in Jamaal Charles,” Phillips said. “I believe they are going to run the ball a little bit more.”
Wright makes progress: CB Shareece Wright worked out on the side for the first time since he suffered a high-ankle sprain on the season's opening kickoff. Wright said he hopes to be back after Sunday's game.
Injury report: CB Quentin Jammer (hand) and CB Wright did not practice. OLB Antwan Barnes (knee) and LT Gaither (back) were limited. Barnes was a new addition to the injury report based on Sunday's game.