Q. You’ve been classified as doubtful as of today. What does that mean to you and in your own mind, are you doubtful?
PHILIP RIVERS: As I’ve said all week, I’m optimistic I’ll be able to play on Sunday. I was able to take some repititions today. I think based on the amount of time I’ve practiced, it’s kind of the way you’re listed going in.
But certainly warming up on Sunday and getting loose early will have a lot to say about what I’m going to be able to do.
Q. You talked yesterday about not wanting to have any setbacks this week. Did you have any today, and does today give you more confidence or less confidence?
PHILIP RIVERS: Definitely didn’t have a setback today. You know, the training staff and myself have been almost 24 hours trying to get treatment and get ready.
Today I actually felt nothing but [I’m] really confident that I’m going to be able to do it. Again, I wasn’t going as fast as I will need to go on Sunday, but was able to take some drops, hands offs, do some things that certainly can ease my mind a little bit that should it go as I hope, I can get out there Sunday and be effective.
Q. I assume you are expecting a healthy dose of blitzes, aren’t you, because of the injury and whatnot?
PHILIP RIVERS: You know, I really don’t see that an injury will have any effect on what they do defensively. You know, took my 40 from about a five‑flat to a five‑four, so either way, I don’t think they are worried about me leaving the pocket. I would expect their game plan to be the same as if I was 100%.
Q. Can you talk about the play of your wide receivers the last couple of weeks and how much they have stepped up?
PHILIP RIVERS: You know, you hear so much and rightfully so about L.T. and Gates. They are as good as it gets, but I think what our wide receivers have done, and you mentioned Chris and Vincent, especially over the past six, seven weeks, has been awesome.
I think we all kind of had a high expectation of when Chris got here for what he was going to bring to it, and he certainly has not let us down there. And Vincent has continued to come on and be a big‑time receiver.
And the way I like to describe our team now, I think what we’ve turned into is we can ‑‑ you’ve got to cover sideline to sideline. You don’t have to just worry about L.T. and Gates. You’ve got a guy to the right and a guy to the left that can run by you and can beat you and make plays after the catch.
Not only that, they really understand it. We’re really on the same page. I think you look around, you know, the Patriots and the Colts and over time, the successful passing games, it’s that me to you feel that the quarterback and wide receivers have to have for the passing game to go. I think we’ve really took that to another level here in the past six weeks, and that’s had a lot to do with our success.
Q. Obviously the team and yourself have improved over the course of the season. Was there ever a turning point that things really started to click and you felt confident that you and the team were on their way?
PHILIP RIVERS: Yeah, I think, you know, I think for me individually and then I think speaking from an offensive perspective, I think from a team perspective, it may not be exactly the same, but offensively Jacksonville was the game for me. We didn’t win, but looking back on Chris, getting a feel for him, we made some plays in that game that I kind of felt like I had been around him for a year or two. We were doing a lot better on offense; we didn’t win the game, but you kind of came home and had a little bit better feeling about what you were doing and what I was doing.
I think from an offensive perspective, that was the game to me that kind of jump‑started the whole deal. Since then, we haven’t lost and we’ve gotten hot and, you know, as hot as we’ve been to this point, we’re going to have to be our hottest on Sunday.
I think at the same time as you say that, you can’t try to do too much. You have to try to play better and throw it better and tackle better and then it usually goes against you. We just have to play smart football and hopefully catch a few breaks and see what happens.
Q. I had a Pro Bowl player tell me recently that the Patriots defense doesn’t have one outstanding player, but they don’t have any weaknesses, either. Is that an accurate assessment?
PHILIP RIVERS: I think the fact that they don’t have any weaknesses is accurate. I don’t think if it’s fair to say they don’t have anybody outstanding, they have guys on the roster on defense as you look at them are guys you would love to have. I think the best way to describe them is as savvy a bunch as you’ll ever go against. They get it; they know how to play the game.
Yeah, you maybe get a linebacker and line up some different guys who might be able to run faster, do some things better. But as a whole they understand how to make a play. Collectively, they do it as good as anybody in the league and that’s why they are where they are right now.
So I think it’s a trap to try to think the that defensively, that’s a weakness for them. People have been able to move the ball and score some points, but not enough. That’s the ultimate goal for a defense is just hold them to one less than your team can score, and they have done that perfect so far.
Q. You’ve talked about the difficulty or the time that it takes to get synchronized with a receiver like Chambers. For Volek, if he has not played a lot with the first unit, how are we likely to see that manifest and will he have the kind of timing you want?
PHILIP RIVERS: I think it’s tough. That’s why I have a great deal of respect for guys that have been for the most part of their careers backups in this league and when they get called on to perform, they can execute at a high level. It’s really impressive to me when you see that happen; and Billy, he can do that.
But yeah, he’s prepared all week on this offense, but this week he’s obviously getting a lot of reps. Week‑to‑week, he’s running the other team’s offense and studying ours and he doesn’t throw a ball to Chris or Vincent. I bet he’s thrown a handful to them all year long.
Certainly that’s nothing but ‑‑ that can be nothing but an excuse, and I know obviously no backup nor Billy will use that, but certainly that’s why it is a challenge to step in and be ready to be accurate, and it’s all the whole timing. But I think with Billy’s success over his career, and with the two really good days of practice he had on Wednesday and Thursday, if he’s asked to get in there and go, he’ll do a good job.
Q. Physically, how are you feeling, and given the injury, given what’s gone on this week, how do you think it’s going to affect your play, your ability come Sunday?
PHILIP RIVERS: I mean, to be honest, the way I felt on Monday morning, I didn’t think I would be at this point right now. So I think the best way to answer how am I feeling, is pretty good about the progress that we’ve made here to this point to standing here on Friday.
I think honestly given the magnitude of the game and given the situation, if I’m out there as I plan to for the first snap and throughout the game it won’t have an effect at all.
I think the one thing I’m not going to do is play cautiously or play worrying, am I physically ok to do that because the minute you do that, you’re hitting yourself, hurting the team so I’m not going to do that.
Like I said, I’m optimistic I’ll be out there and if I am, it won’t be at all a hindrance.
Q. The Patriots adjust so well on the fly and during half‑time; how do you prepare for a team who is so good at adjusting that quickly to what’s happening?
PHILIP RIVERS: Again, we try to be a step ahead but you try to get too cute or out smart yourselves and you get too worried about what you think they might do and then you’re not doing what you do well.
We’ve obviously, like I said the past eight weeks or so, we’ve been playing really well as a complete team. You give a lot of respect to your opponent. Obviously this opponent, the ultimate respect, but at the same time we have to worry about the San Diego Chargers.
The minute we lose what we are trying to do on offense or defense and get caught up in what we think they might call or what blitz we think they might bring, obviously that goes into the game plan and the next play you’re going to call. But if you get too caught up in it, it will hurt you. It will bite you.
So I think you know, we’ve got a good plan together. We know the challenge, and we’re excited to get the opportunity to play in this game.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports …
Q. Earlier today, Philip and Antonio were both declared doubtful. In your mind, what is your expectation of their ability to play and how will it affect you as a team if they can’t?
LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON: You know, the last week, speaking about Antonio he was doubtful for last week’s game, but he found a way to kind of play the game and get through the game, and also made a couple of key catches for us that we needed, particularly that one down the middle.
Philip’s situation, obviously I don’t know with him being doubtful. Obviously being out there today practicing, to me I think he’ll be able to ‑‑ I don’t know if he’ll be able to go but it seemed like he will be able to at least try.
But if he can’t, then that’s why this team has gotten to where we are now because of our guys stepping in and really doing what it takes to win the game no matter who it is. And so we’re pretty comfortable with the guys that we have, obviously Billy and also Brandon and maybe Scott, the tight end, stepping in.
Q. Coach Turner said that Philip took about a third of the snaps today. How did he look to you?
LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON: To me he looked fine, and that’s why I was kind of surprised the way he did look. You know, he actually looked pretty good. And I asked him, I asked him how did he feel out there and he said he felt pretty good.
In my mind, he’s a tough guy, and for him not to be able to play, it’s going to take a lot.
Q. How are you feeling?
LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON: Feeling a lot better. Obviously going through yesterday’s practice and seeing where I am physically, I feel real good about it.
Obviously today going through another practice, just gaining some confidence back. Any time you hurt something, particularly the knee, it’s all about gaining some confidence. You know, I think I’ll be fine.
Q. Antonio, have you spoken to him at all this week, and could you compare his level of optimism maybe right now, as opposed to one week prior?
LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON: Well, it’s hard to compare because only Antonio knows how his body feels.
But just talking to him, it seems like you know, he’s a guy that he really wants to play in this game. You don’t get many opportunities like this. I think we all understand that for the simple fact that I don’t think he’s feeling any worse than he did last week. I’m thinking he’s going to be able to go a little bit and give us anything that he has.
Q. Can you talk about the Patriots defense and just how good they are on that side of the football?
LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON: Well, they are a group of guys that don’t make many mistakes. And typically that’s what happens when you have a group of veteran guys who has been together, who will know how to win games and they have been in big games before. That’s why they don’t make many mistakes. You know, they don’t give up many big plays and everything. Anything we get out there they are going to have to earn it. They are not giving us anything.
Also you look at their roster on defense, most of their guys are first‑round draft picks, their front line, you know, all the way to the linebackers and they have got some guys that can really get the job done.
I think the thing that stands out in my mind about them is the confidence they play with. You know, they always believe that they are going to get it done.
Q. You talk about going up against Junior and Rodney, just talk about the influence Junior had on you and going up against an aggressive player like Rodney.
LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON: Well, both of them guys had an influence on me the early part of my career when they were here. I learned a lot from them. Some of the things that I do today is a reflection of them. And so obviously it’s going to be great getting to face them guys.
And, you know, the passion that Rodney plays with, you know, is incredible. You still see that passion all throughout this year, last year and you know he’s just ‑‑ the funny thing about it is I laugh sometimes, because I see him do something on film, and you know, I know that’s Rodney, because I remember sometimes he used to do the same thing, intimidation a little bit. It’s going to be funny getting out there a little bit and he’s probably going to try to intimidate me, but that’s going to be another story.
Junior, what can I say about Junior? I mean, 18 years in, the guy is still playing with so much passion and you know, he rubs off on people. And I’m pretty sure the Patriots will say the same thing. The way he practices; the way he prepares for a game, he can’t help but rub off on the Patriots. I think from him just a little bit I learned how to practice and prepare for the game.
Q. You’ve said several times that last year’s game is behind you now and you don’t dwell on it. But if you should happen to win, will you dance on their logo?
LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON: No. No. That won’t happen. You know, it will be a great feeling but I won’t take it to that extent.
Q. Can you talk about the D‑line?
LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON: Just whenever you see a crease you have to be able to hit it. It closes fast and they don’t have too many creases in their defense. But when you do see one, you’ve just got to be able to hit it fast, not take too much time dancing around because eventually they are going to get to you; they are that tough of a group. You just have to have a mentally‑strong attitude going into this game.
Q. I don’t know how much attention you paid to what was said during the week from the other team, but Bill Belichick said the Chargers were the best team in the AFC the second half of the year. What’s your response to that?
LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON: That’s Bill being Bill. I think you can’t really say that from my standpoint when, you know, they are the ones who haven’t lost a game.
Yes, we played good football over the second half of the season but it’s hard to say that your veteran team that hasn’t lost, and nobody has had the recipe to beat them ‑‑ you know, I think that’s Bill just kind of you know being modest and saying that we are a good football team.
Q. As far as making cuts or speed or anything like that, have you noticed any hindrances as far as your knee, just like any little subtle movements that may be kind of holding you back just a smidge?
LaDAINIAN TOMLINSON: Not so far. But again, game situation, game speed is going to be totally different. Haven’t been hit. So obviously, you know, that’s going to play a factor, also.
But as of now, it hasn’t been a problem and I’m expecting that hopefully not to be a problem on Sunday.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports …
NORV TURNER: We just finished our Friday preparation and practice. I like the way our guys have prepared this week. I think we’re fortunate. A lot’s been made out of our injury situation and I believe we’re fortunate to be healthy in most areas, and we’ve made progress in terms of our injuries. You know, we’re getting ready to get on a plane and we’ll continue preparing over the next couple of days and we’re getting ready to play.
Q. What’s the status on Rivers?
NORV TURNER: I think he’s made progress through the week and right now he’s listed as doubtful and it will be a Sunday morning, we get out there and get him moving around and watch him drop and see how he can move. If he can move the way, you know ‑‑ if he makes progress over the next couple days, you know, I think he’s got a chance of playing. But right now, it is doubtful.
Q. Did he practice today?
NORV TURNER: He took probably about a third of the practice, you know, which is why he’s listed as limited.
I thought he did all right.
Q. What kind of concerns do you have about him not practicing much and still being sharp?
NORV TURNER: You know, he’s taken so many reps, he’s had so much practice, he gets so prepared mentally. There might be a play or two that he’s not as sharp as you’d like but throwing the ball is an issue right now and he threw the ball extremely well today. You know, I think he’ll be sharp when the opportunity presents itself.
Q. (On Rivers‘ health status)
NORV TURNER: Again, we’re talking about me just speaking in general terms and then an official listing that we give. You know, to me, questionable, doubtful is very similar; to the League, they are dramatically different.
Q. (On Rivers)
NORV TURNER: We just want him to go play and play the way he’s capable of playing and be able to move well enough to take care of himself and to be able to make plays.
Q. As a follow‑up, in your mind, is the doubtful declaration, is that mainly procedural or do you perceive something that you did not perceive yesterday?
NORV TURNER: I think it’s the listing, and I think being fair from a listing standpoint, you know, until we see him move around and move around full speed Sunday, you know, I couldn’t say he’d be ready to play, so in my mind that’s doubtful.
Q. How have preparations been different this week for both you and the staff and the players?
NORV TURNER: The biggest thing is we were new to each other in week two, and we didn’t play real well. <st1:place w:st="on">New England</st1:place> played at a real high level, so that’s not a good combination.
You know our preparation has been very similar to what it’s been over the last probably 14 weeks. Once we got going and got to understand each other and got a feeling for what we’re doing, you can see things happening faster. You could see things clicking. You know, everyone makes a big deal of the eight wins in a row, but you know, over the last 14 weeks, we’ve played at a high level.
Q. How has Volek surprised you with his preparation?
NORV TURNER: I wouldn’t ever use the word "surprised." It’s been what I expect. He’s done a great job preparing to play. He’s been prepared to play each of the last 18 weeks, and I think that showed up the way he played Sunday. He’s made some great throws this week. As I said, he throws the ball deep, extremely well, he throws the ball up the field real well and those are things that we emphasize.
Our guys are comfortable with him because he’s taken a lot of practice throughout the year when Philip was banged up a little bit, so if he struggles or has a tough time and can’t go, our guys are very confident in Volek.
Q. Have you thought about the history if you do end up beating a team that has gone 17‑0?
NORV TURNER: You know the thing about games and all this, and that’s where I think the experience of having been in these games and been in these type of games, when I was with the Rams with John Robinson we went in Chicago and played the Bears, the best defense in the history of football and had a tough day and it was a learning experience. And I remember with Coach Robinson, we played the 49ers, a team that went on to score 50‑something points against <st1:city w:st="on">Denver</st1:city> and we played <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">New York</st1:place></st1:state> in that stretch. So those are things you draw upon.
I never think about the day after the game, because it’s not an issue. Our concentration has been on preparing for this football game, and you have to prepare for this football game the same as you do any other game. The things that if we’re able to go play well, the reason we are going to play well is because we protect the ball and don’t create big turnovers and find ways to make big plays. We’ll go do the things we’ve been doing. That’s what you have to concentrate on and not daydream about what‑ifs, because that’s just wasting your time.
Q. No microphone ‑‑ what kind of concerns do you have for him not practicing?
NORV TURNER: He’s getting better. He’s getting better. And again he’ll be a Sunday‑morning decision in terms of how he’s able to go.
Q. (On DT Jamal Williams)
NORV TURNER: Jamal has missed a couple of games, and Ryan, <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Brandon</st1:city></st1:place>, they have stepped up and played good, and I’d like to have Jamal playing.
That’s one of the things that’s been special about this group. When we’ve had something happen, bang, someone has stepped in and made a play.
Q. Billy was indicating that most of his reps this season have been with the scout team. How much do you think a backup quarterback needs to play with the regulars during the year and how much do you see that he gets that experience?
NORV TURNER: Well, to me, the whole key to having a veteran backup, a guy who has been in the league, who started games, a guy who has played is that they don’t need a lot of reps.
If your backup guy is a guy who needs a lot of reps, you should get a different backup. Billy has handled what we’ve done without having a lot of reps. He gets a lot of physical work throwing the routes we throw, and we work with all the guys and all those things.
But there’s just not enough plays to not have your starting quarterback get most of the reps during the week. And then when you’re in a situation like this, Billy has gotten a lot of work the last two weeks and I think each day he’s gotten better.
Q. In a typical week, how many reps he get?
NORV TURNER: None.
Q. Most teams pay so much respect to Tom Brady, they are afraid to come after him; what are your thoughts on taking chances and coming after him?
NORV TURNER: Tom Brady, he’s playing as well or better than any quarterback ever. They do a great job picking up the blitz and handling the blitz. So you are not going to go and make a living doing that.
What we truly want to do is we want to try to mix it up and try to give him, their offensive line and their receivers different looks. If we sit there and play one look, they will wear us out and we have to try to change it up and we don’t have any illusions that we are going to stop them.
They have scored more points than any team in the history of the National Football League. They have scored points on everybody and obviously we have looked hard at the games where they have not scored as many points and that’s when the other team has played great on special teams, played great on offense and kept the ball and been opportunistic on defense. We have to find a way. One of the strengths of our team is we’ve created turnovers. We lead the National Football League in turnovers and we have to find a way to create a couple turnovers in this game and keep the score down.
All right, thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports …
Q. Shawn, how are you feeling?
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: Man, I had the worst stomach flu. As cold as it was, thinking I was playing in the Dome ‑‑ I was still sick and we had to get off the bus and go to the hotel, so I guess that’s when it happened.
Q. How has that affected everything that’s gone on this week? Obviously you’ve been limited.
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: Well, I’m much better now. I’ve missed a few days early on now right after the game, but I think you know, a couple of players had it and passed it on to me and it wasn’t a good feeling at all. So I’m glad I’m 100% now.
Q. What’s going to be the toughest part about going against Brady?
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: Just his play making decisions. I’ll probably say that out of all the quarterbacks I’ve probably ever seen my three years in the league, at least, he’s made the best decisions to get rid of the ball to, make the right play at the right time and to always know where his opponent is. That’s probably what makes him the quarterback he is.
Q. What are you going to do to counter that?
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: You’ve got to hit him. You’ve got to go after him and make him make some decisions that they don’t want to make, and they are good at that, you know, making decisions when pressure is coming and getting rid of the ball in time and protecting long enough so he can throw the ball. So they have been good at that for a long time.
Q. (On the Chargers start to the season)
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: I think we were all in the process of getting on the same page earlier on. Whenever you made the decisions and changes that we made in one off‑season trying to get on the same page in a few weeks is tough, even though you have the whole off‑season. Not really being in that game situation, you know, makes it tough on a young team like that.
Q. How difficult is it to try to prepare and slow down a team that’s averaging over 38 points a game this year?
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: It’s going to be tough. You’re probably talking about a team with the most weapons in the league to me. You see guys coming and stepping up and making plays all over the field and I think at one part of the season they were talking about their running game wasn’t there and just late in the season, it started coming. So now they have an air attack and a ground attack and it was going to be tough but we have to go and get the job done.
Q. Talking about creating pressure, last week it looked like with the stunts and everything like that, you were able to make Peyton move with the four‑man rush a lot. Is that the same approach you have to take this week?
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: I think so, just mixing it up and not being so predictable. At the end of the day it comes down to you beating the guy across from you. All of the plays and things could be called mixing it up, but you have to beat the guy in front of you in order to go make a play.
Q. Appears the only way to throw them off is to make Tom Brady uncomfortable consistently throughout four quarters, being consistent in your defense; do you take that as your responsibility to make that happen?
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: Yeah, I know that in the Colts game they were looking for me to go out there and make plays, especially in critical times like it was and it will happen again this game. You know, I don’t mind the guys relying on me to go out and make a big play and change the game. I’ve been able to do it and I’ve been capable of doing it in playoffs a few times.
You know, it’s going to take a total team effort though. All of the 11 guys on defense getting to the ball and making things happen, you know, when that ball get batted up and you want to see guys flying around and picking it off and guys going after some strips and just making some plays out there, that’s what it’s going to take to beat a team that’s been perfect the whole entire year.
Q. There’s been five days now and a lot of talking; do you want to play?
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: Yeah, I was trying to ruffle (ph) you guys all week, so I wouldn’t have to talk. (Laughing)
It’s one of those things where you just want Sunday to hurry up and all the talk and all of the made‑up talk and some of the things that’s taken out of hand and bigger than what it should be, you just want to hurry and get to Sunday as fast as possible and play 60 minutes of football and let everybody else do the talking and go out there and play football, because that’s what we do.
Q. Have you thought about the historical perspective as far as playing a team like this that’s gone 17‑0?
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: You’re talking about going to play a team who has not lost a game. And it’s not like they have had a soft schedule. They have had a lot of battles and came out on top and been tested in critical situations and still won the game.
It’s going to be tough going to play a team that has not experienced losing more or less than just losing the game, but it’s just a feeling that you get when you lose a game and they haven’t had that this year so it’s going to be tough.
Q. All of the offensive playmakers there, is this the best offensive line do you think you’ll face all season?
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: I think we see a bunch of guys week‑in and week‑out, but playing a team like this who knows how to protect for Brady, I would not necessarily say they are the best, because then I would be disrespecting everybody else and everybody else we play will be coming after me, too.
But as a whole, they are probably the best offensive line that we have seen the entire year, but with all of the experience and the talent that they have up front.
Q. You mentioned the "made‑up talk" a minute ago; how have you personally handled that part of it and how has the team handled that?
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: Yeah, I think we handled it well. I think there was a couple slip‑ups here and there we caught on TV a few times.
But for the most part, I think that we’ve all been focused on playing the game and less hype around it, because at the end of the day, we have to go there and play them and they have to play us. You know, there’s no need to talk about it. It’s just going out there and getting it done, because that’s what it comes down to.
Q. You said earlier when the sack numbers were not there because teams were doing so many things with you and running away and still making plays ‑‑ looking back a little bit now, do you still think your game is better?
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: Yeah, I think so. Sometimes when you don’t have 17 sacks every year, you know, somebody might look at you and say, oh, you didn’t have the best of years.
But I think that total, all‑around, my game has gotten a lot better with experience and just knowing and understanding the game of football that much better, and being able to play against the run and the pass, pass rush, do a little drop here and there; so all around, I’ve been able to help my team out a whole lot.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports …