Chargers coach Norv Turner announced late Thursday night that quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates will also miss the matchup. Gates is healthy, but the team would like things to remain that way until the regular season. Turner told the team’s website that the quarterback decision was made to get a look at how Charlie Whitehurst performs in a starting role.
“Charlie is going to start, and I’m anxious to watch him in a starting role,” said Turner. “It’s something we may be in the position during the regular season that we have to do that, and it’s a good experience for him.”
The Chargers might want to get a look at Whitehurst as a starter (Turner’s done this before with Rivers and Billy Volek), but part of the decision has to be based on the fact that they would rather see Whitehurst get snapped in two by Jared Allen than Rivers. The Chargers will be without left tackle Jared Gaither, left guard Tyronne Green and center Nick Hardwick on Friday against a team that tied for the NFL lead in sacks last season.
Putting Rivers out there behind a makeshift line is something you’d have to do in a regular season game, but it’s not a risk worth taking in a game that doesn’t matter. Rivers has never played in the team’s final preseason game since Turner took over as coach, so we’ll likely next see him on the field come Week One.