SAN DIEGO (AP) -Philip Rivers' mouth seems to be making as much news as his injured right knee.
San Diego's quarterback, caught on camera this year yapping at fans and opposing players, sat out practice Wednesday to rest his sprained right knee as the Chargers began preparing for the AFC championship game Sunday against undefeated New England.
``It's feeling pretty good. It's feeling better,'' Rivers said. ``I'm treating it like crazy. Obviously the goal is to be ready to play on Sunday, and I'm optimistic I'll be able to do that.''
Rivers sprained his medial collateral ligament when he landed awkwardly after throwing a 56-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles on the last play of the third quarter Sunday in a 28-24 victory over Indianapolis. He didn't return.
Questions at Rivers' post-practice news conference quickly shifted to the QB's jawing.
On Sunday, Rivers had two exchanges with fans. When he was walking to the locker room for treatment, he could be seen telling someone, ``I'll be back.'' Then, when Peyton Manning's final pass of the game fell incomplete, Rivers turned and was talking to fans behind the bench.
During a Christmas Eve win over division rival Denver, cameras caught the QB and teammates Shaun Phillips and Matt Wilhelm having an animated conversation with Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler.
Rivers tried to downplay that exchange, but some Broncos were infuriated.
During a home victory over Baltimore on Nov. 25 - which started the Chargers' current eight-game winning streak - Rivers yelled ``shut up'' at fans who booed on two straight plays.
Rivers has become a flashpoint, particularly on talk radio.
``I'm aware of it,'' Rivers said. ``I really don't get too caught up in it. It's kind of surprising, really, to be honest with you. But, again, I'm out there having a good time as I did in the backyard since I was 5 years old. I'm not saying anything out of line. There's no profanity being used. I know what I'm about. My teammates know, my family knows, everything else, I can't worry about.
``When it stops being fun, that's when I'll stop playing,'' said Rivers, who compared his talking to ribbing a buddy while playing in the backyard.
``That's all it is. If we can't do that, I don't know. I really don't. Anybody can be critical and criticize, but nobody knows what's being said. Other than what's caught on camera, and as far as I know, everything that's been caught on camera is clean, and that's all that it'll ever be.''
Some callers have even compared Rivers to Ryan Leaf, the bad-boy quarterback who had a turbulent run with the Chargers from 1998-2000.
``Again, it's kind of unbelievable, to be honest with you,'' Rivers said. ``I'm not going to sit here and turn and put down Ryan Leaf. But sometimes you wonder what gives people the authority to make some comparisons. Obviously I have an opinion about it.
``Since the Denver week, when things, to me, got blown out of proportion, I haven't changed since then. If you followed me around since I was 5 years old, you'd see the same thing every Saturday afternoon in the backyard, you saw it for 51 games at NC State and you'll probably catch something this weekend. Do I mean any harm about it? No. Again, I'm just going to have fun.''
Rivers expressed surprise that questions were about him, not the team.
Later, though, he had some fun when he was asked the differences between his personality and that of backup Billy Volek, who capped the game-winning drive Sunday with a 1-yard sneak.
``Since we've been on the subject, I'm probably a little more vocal. I talk a little more than he does,'' Rivers said, noting that Volek is more even-keeled ``and doesn't get as animated and fired up.''
Rivers sprained his left knee on Dec. 9 at Tennessee. He said this injury might be easier to deal with.
``Anytime that lead leg is banged up, that can affect you mentally,'' he said. ``So I'm really, really optimistic I'm going to be good to go. It's just a matter of working through some of the pain and the issues now to be ready.''
Rivers said he hopes to return to practice by Friday.
Also sitting out Wednesday were LaDainian Tomlinson (left knee), tight end Antonio Gates (left toe) and nose tackle Jamal Williams (ankle). Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman was limited due to an illness.
``They've spent a lot of hours in the training room,'' coach Norv Turner said. ``They're all working on getting healthy. I think we're making progress. I think in most cases they'll be Sunday decisions.''
Turner said Volek had a good practice.
``We've been in this situation a couple of times this year already,'' Turner said. ``There's things he does different, there's things that he does the same. We've just got to get everyone else ready to play so if Philip's playing, they're playing at a high level. If he isn't, I think Billy's ready to step in and play well.''
Tomlinson, the two-time NFL rushing champion, said he's ``feeling better, especially after a few days and taking a day off today. I feel a lot better. I have no concerns at all.''
Tomlinson said he expects to practice Thursday.

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