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Sunday NFL News and Notes

Sunday NFL News and Notes

NFL Preseason Preview - Seattle (0-0) at San Diego (0-0)
(Sports Network)

Norv Turner makes his Chargers head coaching debut on Sunday night, when San Diego plays host to the Seattle Seahawks in the preseason opener for both teams.

Turner, who formerly compiled a record of 58-82-1 while serving as head coach of the Washington Redskins (1994-2000) and Oakland Raiders (2004-2005), was brought in to succeed Marty Schottenheimer, who was fired in February despite guiding the Chargers to a league-best 14-2 record in 2006.

This will not be Turner's first-time on the San Diego sideline, however, as the longtime NFL offensive coordinator was at the controls of the Chargers offense during the 2001 campaign.

In keeping with preseason tradition, Turner is not expected to play his starters for more than a quarter on Sunday, with key figures such as running back LaDainian Tomlinson unlikely to play at all for precautionary reasons.

Tomlinson heads up a talented group of returnees that last appeared on the field in a heartbreaking upset defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots in an AFC Divisional Playoff this past January. Notable additions to the Chargers roster include first-round draft choice and wide receiver Craig Davis (LSU), who should see significant time on Sunday.

Remaining healthy will likely be job number one on Sunday night for a Seattle team that was ravaged by injuries during the 2006 playoffs.

Mike Holmgren's Seahawks found a way to win the NFC West for a third straight time in '06, but major injuries to players including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander hampered the club's ability to defend its 2005 NFC crown.

Inasmuch, Sunday will likely be a time for younger players such as second- round draft pick and cornerback Josh Wilson (Maryland) and third-round choice and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (Cal) to get a taste of NFL action.

Also expected to make his debut in a Seahawks uniform is former Falcons defensive end Patrick Kerney, who signed a lucrative free agent deal during the offseason.

Seattle leads the all-time preseason series with San Diego, 4-3, but was dealt a 31-20 road loss when the teams met prior to last season. The teams also met in the 2006 regular campaign, with the Chargers earning a 20-17 road triumph in Week 16.

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2007 NFL Preseason Notes

Seattle Seahawks - QB Rotation: Matt Hasselbeck (1-2 series), Seneca Wallace (will follow), David Greene, rookie Derek Devine.

The Seahawks' "Big Three" of offensive stars, QB Matt Hasselbeck, RB Shaun Alexander and left tackle Walter Jones, will start. Coach Mike Holmgren said Hasselbeck will probably stay in for a couple of series before backup Seneca Wallace takes over. Hasselbeck didn't figure to play much during the exhibition season, as he is still rehabilitating his surgically repaired left shoulder.

Defensive coordinator John Marshall is devising more blitz schemes, involving more players.

Injuries will keep nine players from making the trip .5? defensive tackles Marcus Tubbs and Craig Terrill; fullback David Kirtman; TEs Ben Joppru and Will Heller; LB Niko Koutouvides; offensive lineman Floyd Womack; defensive back Jordan Babineaux; and WR Courtney Taylor.

The Seahawks are playing without injured tight ends Will Heller and Ben Joppru, and possibly Leonard Stephens, and had only two healthy tight ends available. Facing an injury-depleted roster at tight end, the Seahawks signed TE Andy Stokes on Saturday.

San Diego Chargers - QB Rotation: Philip Rivers (1st Q), Billy Volek (2nd-3rd Qs), Charlie Whitehurst (4th Q).

Rivers will start and play the first quarter, Volek will play the second and third quarters, Whitehurst will play the fourth Sunday.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson doesn't play in the preseason, so Michael Turner will start in Sunday's opener.

Turner said he expected the team's starters to be in Sunday's game for 15-18 plays, or about a quarter. The No. 2 units will go for 30-35 plays, or about half the game, Turner said, adding, "Hopefully there's some time left at the end of the game to get the real young guys in there."

Norv Turner is the new head coach. He was the 49ers OC last year, and was fired by the Raiders in 2005 after going 9-23 in two seasons.

The Chargers will be without starting WR Eric Parker for as many as six games (toe surgery).

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Sunday's NFL starter report

The San Diego Chargers do not want to risk an injury to defending MVP LaDainain Tomlinson so he’s been ruled out of tonight’s contest. This is nothing out of the ordinary for the Chargers. Tomlinson didn’t have a single rushing attempt last year in the preseason.

Coach Norv Turner told the San Diego Union Tribune he plans on giving the rest of his starters 15-18 plays, or about a quarter. The second units will get about 30-35 snaps with the back end of the roster playing the remainder of the game.

The Chargers are healthy coming into tonight's contest with only receiver Eric Parker and starting linebacker Matt Wilhelm slated to sit out due to injury.

As for the Seattle Seahawks, head coach Mike Holmgren was a little less detailed but he did say his starters will play a couple of series.

“Those guys will play and we will get them out of there,” Holmgren told the Tacoma News Tribune. “Then we will look at the guys we really have a lot of questions about. They still need to play in games to evaluate them properly.”

The Seahawks haven’t nearly as lucky on the injury front with nine players ruled out tonight. Among the wounded are defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs and defensive back Jordan Babineaux. The tight ends Bennie Joppru and Will Heller are out with injuries and Leonard Stephens is questionable, so the Hawks may only have two players able to play TE tonight.

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L.T. ready for sideline duty when Seahawks visit Chargers

SAN DIEGO -- New San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner knows the drill when it comes to LaDainian Tomlinson and exhibition games.

''If you want to see L.T., you better come early and watch warmups,'' Turner said in previewing the extent of his superstar running back's participation in Sunday night's home game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Although he's made a cameo appearance as recently as 2005 against St. Louis - he scored on his only run, a 55-yarder - Tomlinson almost always sits out meaningless August games to avoid the risk of injury.

''I just get to eat a lot of sunflower seeds,'' the reigning NFL MVP said.

Turner will continue to follow the philosophy used by his predecessor, Marty Schottenheimer, who preferred to keep Tomlinson fresh for the regular season.

''If something works, it would be silly for me to come in here and change it,'' said Turner, who replaced the fired Schottenheimer in February.

Last year it worked to the tune of a monster season, when Tomlinson set NFL records with 31 touchdowns, including 28 rushing, and 186 points. He also won his first rushing title with 1,815 yards.

Tomlinson does get something out of exhibitions.

''You know, I really enjoy it because I think I take that time to really prepare myself mentally,'' Tomlinson said. ''When I'm looking at the game, I kind of see what's going on. I picture myself in the game, making cuts and stuff, what I would have done in different situations. I start to get the feeling like it's time to play again.''

Since a lot of offseason workouts are nothing more than glorified touch football, Tomlinson enjoys watching young players once the exhibition games start.

Tomlinson remembers when former Chargers receiver Reche Caldwell was in his first camp.

''When Reche first came in he was looking pretty, running fast, and we were like, 'Damn, this guy is going to be real good for us,' '' Tomlinson said. ''The first preseason game he caught a pass and he turned it up and he got hit and he fumbled and he came back over and said, 'Whew, them guys are hitting out there.' I said, 'What do you think they do? You thought you'd be running around in shorts all the time? These guys hit in this league!' ''

The guy the Chargers will be watching Sunday night is first-round draft pick Craig Davis, a wide receiver out of LSU.

''It's big to me,'' Turner said. ''He's a speed guy. I certainly hope he plays fast. That's easy to say, but guys get all excited, they get winded early.''

With Eric Parker (toe surgery) and Vincent Jackson (lower leg) missing from a practice at Qualcomm Stadium last Saturday, Davis was with the first team and made an impressive leaping touchdown catch over safety Marlon McCree and linebacker Matt Wilhelm during a two-minute drill.

''I would expect him to do everything we've done, particularly last Saturday,'' Turner said. ''That was the most competitive thing we've probably done, and he looked like one of the fastest guys on the field.''

Turner expects his starters will be in for 15 to 18 plays before making way for the second stringers, who will get 30 to 35 plays.

For the Seahawks, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, running back Shaun Alexander and Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones will start and play about two series.

''We are not going to change much from what we have done in the past,'' coach Mike Holmgren said. ''Those guys will play. Then we will look at the guys we really have a lot of questions about. They still need to play in games to evaluate them properly.''

Hasselbeck said after an intrasquad scrimmage last Saturday that doctors want him strictly limited from playing in preseason games. He had surgery in January to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. ''Hopefully we can push the envelope on that a little bit,'' he said.

Alexander, the 2005 league MVP, may still have a cracked bone in his foot, but he's practiced without limitation and has been cleared to play. Alexander says he is in the best shape in years.

Jones practiced in full pads on Wednesday morning for the first time in six days because of a sore right shoulder. He had surgery on it after last season.

''He's going to be one of our guys we are going to need to play all season and play well,'' Holmgren said. '' So I'm probably being a little bit nice to him.''

The intrigue of Seahawks camp is who is going to start at wide receiver opposite Deion Branch, now that Darrell Jackson is gone to the 49ers. Holmgren said D.J. Hackett had the inside track when camp opened, then backtracked as Nate Burleson has looked good.

Holmgren keeps hinting that top draft choice Josh Wilson is pushing Kelly Jennings as starting right cornerback.

In March, Chargers left guard Kris Dielman spurned a richer offer from Seattle to re-sign with San Diego for about $39 million.

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