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Friday, October 9, 2009

Chargers looking forward to break

Following Thursday’s practice, Chargers players were dismissed for a three-day weekend and were looking forward to the break.

Shortly after the Chargers concluded practice Thursday, players raced out of the locker room, many of them headed to the airport for the first short break they’ve had in the last 10 weeks.

“It’s a chance to kind of get away from football and put everything that happened in this first quarter of the season behind us,” tight end Antonio Gates said. “It’ll be good for us.”

Players headed in various directions for their three-day weekend. Nate Kaeding was off to Iowa where he’ll introduce his two-month-old son to friends and relatives. Larry English and Antonio Gates scheduled quick trips home to Chicago and Detroit, respectively, to be with family.

“Family is very important to me and whenever I get a chance to go see them, I try to take advantage of it,” Gates said. “You get away quick and then when we get back Monday, it’s time to go.”

Fullback Jacob Hester rushed out to catch a flight to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where his fourth-ranked LSU Tigers host top-ranked Florida Saturday and he’ll will be on the sideline. Defensive end Vaughn Martin boarded a plane for Toronto Thursday night. For running back LaDainian Tomlinson, it’ll be a low-key weekend. He and his wife took off to Texas to spend a couple days at their rural lake house.

Plenty of other Chargers were staying put for the bye. Quarterback Philip Rivers said family time will “be at the top of the list.” Others like running back Darren Sproles and cornerback Quentin Jammer were looking forward to spending time in San Diego with their kids.

“I’m just going to relax at home,” Sproles said. “I’ll be here with my family. I want to relax a little, focus on what’s coming up.”

Some players will try to get away from football for a couple days while others said the game will be a big part of the weekend. Several Chargers said they’d be glued to the TV Sunday afternoon as the AFC West-leading Broncos host the Patriots.

“I’ll absolutely be watching,” tackle Jeromey Clary said. “You play this game and you fall in love with it. Any chance I get to sit on the couch and be a fan, I take advantage of it.”

Head Coach Norv Turner and his staff will enjoy a short break this weekend, but will also spend time in the office as they look ahead to the next couple weeks of the team’s schedule.

“Our coaches need to get away from it a little bit,” Turner said. “We can spend some time each day and continue to prepare. We play on Monday night and we have a short week to get ready for Kansas City. This week gives you a chance to look at Kansas City a little bit and do some advance stuff. There are things we’ll do to keep preparing.”

Turner will be tuned in to games on Sunday. Watching games on TV is a different experience than watching coaches tape, Turner said.

“Sometimes the announcers will say something that they’ve picked up from a player or coaches meeting,” Turner said. “You might get something from that. You get a general feel for a team. I don’t know that you get the specifics that you get from the coaching staff and preparing for them.”

Before he dismissed them, Turner praised his team for their efforts during the bye week. Under Turner, the Chargers are 2-0 coming off the bye and he likes the way his team used their time this week.

“I think our guys have been very focused,” Turner said. “The first month gave our guys some experiences about where we’re at and where we need to go. That’s what we’re using this week for: to move forward and get better and get ready for the next month of our season. It’s been a good week of everyone being realistic and looking at what we need to do to be better.”