GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Still red-faced and rubbing their eyes after the cross-country redeye flight back from an embarrassing loss to New England, the San Diego Chargers are hitting the road again.
They face a Green Bay Packers team that might be better than advertised.
The Packers are out to prove their surprising 2-0 start is for real. The Chargers want to show their uninspiring 1-1 start isn't.
A fashionable Super Bowl pick heading into the season, the Chargers have stumbled out of the gate under new coach Norv Turner. Their supposedly supercharged offense was fairly quiet in San Diego's 14-3 home victory over Chicago in the season opener. Then quarterback Philip Rivers committed three turnovers in an embarrassing 38-14 loss at New England last Sunday night.
Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, last year's MVP, is averaging only 1.9 yards per carry in the first two games. He said the team and Turner are still feeling each other out.
``I think that's obvious - we're averaging 14 points,'' Tomlinson said. ``So hopefully as the season goes on, we'll get better. And, you know, Norv is just getting used to what guys do, what we do well as a team. And so once that's figured out, then I think everything else will go pretty good for us.''
Missing two major pieces of their offense in injured running back Vernand Morency and wide receiver Greg Jennings, the Packers didn't score an offensive touchdown in the opener against Philadelphia and have struggled to run the ball in both games.
Brett Favre, who needs four touchdown passes to break Dan Marino's career record of 420 - and three interceptions to break George Blanda's career mark of 277 - said the Packers must keep their success in perspective.
``We're 2-0, no more than that,'' Favre said. ``I don't think we're making any reservations anywhere anytime soon, and shouldn't be. No one should. All it means is we're 2-0, and there's 14 left, and we should and I think that we're approaching it one game at a time, one play at a time. We're not looking past anyone; I don't think anyone's going to look past us. All it means is at this point we've put ourselves in a good position. It's a good start.''
Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman certainly won't be looking past Favre.
``Nothing personal about Favre, but I've always wanted to hit Favre since I was a kid,'' Merriman said. ``Not out of disrespect, but respect. I want to be able to tell my kids I went out there and tried to knock Favre out and I got him.''
Although Favre threw three touchdowns against a struggling New York Giants defense last Sunday, the Packers have been carried largely by their defense. They have given up only 26 points in two games.
But even with the Chargers struggling, stopping Tomlinson and tight end Antonio Gates will provide the best test yet for the Packers.
``It's only been two weeks, so I'm not going to jump the gun and say we're going to the Super Bowl or anything,'' Packers middle linebacker Nick Barnett said. ``But we're playing Packer football right now and that's what we've got to continue to do. 2-0, it's a lot better than 0-2, but we've got a tough week ahead of us with San Diego coming here, and it's going to be a battle. We're looking forward to playing them and seeing where we are.''
Some Packers defenders came into the season grumbling about a lack of national respect, but that respect appears to be building. Tomlinson said Barnett and the rest of the Packers' linebackers stand out, along with cornerback Charles Woodson and Al Harris.
``It's a really good defense that we're going to be facing,'' Tomlinson said. ``(They've) got two of the more veteran cornerbacks in the league who have seen a lot of things and are not going to get fooled by a lot of things.''
Tomlinson seems to be getting impatient with defenses stacking up to stop the run and wants the Chargers' passing game to improve to open up things.
``It's been pretty tough the first couple of weeks, so we expect it to be the same this week,'' Tomlinson said. ``We're just going to have to get our passing game going a little bit more successful.''
Beyond that, the Patriots' Tom Brady and Randy Moss embarrassed the Chargers' secondary. Turner acknowledged that the new coaching staff is going through an adjustment period, perhaps resulting in communication issues.
``A couple of those communication things came up and got us in the game the other day,'' Turner said. ``Again, is that because of what New England did? We just have to work on continuity.''
And when it comes to continuity, the schedule didn't do the Chargers any favors. After getting back early Monday morning from New England, the Chargers will leave after Friday's practice to fly to Green Bay.
``I think we've addressed it, handled it, have a good plan for two things: making sure our guys are rested, and making sure we get time to prepare for the football game,'' Turner said. ``I think we have a good plan to do that and I think our guys will respond to it.''
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