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Old 11-03-2006, 09:17 AM
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Default Neal set to play in 200th straight

Neal set to play in 200th straight
Casey Pearce, Chargers.com

Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal and wide receiver Keenan McCardell were sitting at their respective lockers Thursday afternoon when the topic turned to Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather-Carlos Baldomir fight.

The two discussed how strength, stamina, toughness, endurance and technique would each play roles in the outcome of the boxing match. It was a fitting conversation, particularly because each of those traits has brought Neal to a significant milestone Sunday.

The 14-year veteran is set to play in his 200th-consecutive game this weekend when the Chargers host the Cleveland Browns.

“It’s pretty incredible,” Neal said. “I’ve just been fortunate to stay healthy. I’ve worked hard and done everything possible to put myself in positions to be successful.”

After suffering a broken ankle in the second game of his rookie season, Neal hasn’t missed a contest since. He’s on track to clear the path for a 1,000-yard rusher for the 10-consecutive season.

“That’s a lot of dedication and hard work,” said LaDainian Tomlinson, a player that has benefited from Neal’s durability for the last four seasons. “What he brings to this team, none of us take it for granted. Having him here and the intimidation factor that he brings is special.”

Particularly impressive is the fact that Neal’s longevity has come at a position that requires a player to take brutal punishment week after week. He’s carried the ball just 187 times over the last 14 years, but has been on the delivering end of countless collisions.

“He’s not been called upon to run the ball 20 times a game, but every one of those plays that somebody else is there running, he’s in there battering people,” Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer said. “He understands what we do here. He’s got a role and he knows his role and he fulfills it extremely well.”

Neal is a key reason why the Chargers boast the NFL’s second-best rushing offense this season heading into Sunday’s game. He maintains that an intense workout regiment and his attitude continue to push him along.

“I take care of my body,” Neal said. “I’ve always wanted to be the best, and I still do. Nothing can change that. I’m one of those guys that loves the contact. I love getting in there and mixing it up. I’m going to keep pounding and hopefully watch this streak carry on for a long time.”

Olshansky in the mix

Defensive end Igor Olshansky (knee) made it back on the practice field Thursday, although he missed a portion of the team work. He’s questionable for Sunday’s game.

Safety Bhawoh Jue (knee) returned to the field as well after missing Wednesday. Safety Clinton Hart (knee) and linebacker Shaun Phillips (calf) did not work at all Thursday. Hart and Jue are listed as probable. Phillips is questionable, and Schottenheimer is unsure when he’ll decide whether or not he’ll play.

“He would like to play and I told him we’ll wait and see later on in the week,” Schottenheimer said. “It’s going to go right down to Sunday morning.”

The Browns saw no changes to their injury report. They listed 10 players as questionable on their injury report including six starters. Among those listed were guard Joe Andruzzi (knee); tight end Kellen Winslow (knee); wide receiver Dennis Northcutt (ribs); cornerback Jereme Perry (ankle); cornerback Daven Holly (ilness); offensive tackle Ryan Tucker (illness); linebacker Willie McGinest (ankle); defensive end Orpheus Roye (hamstring); safety Justin Hamilton (ankle) and cornerback Leigh Bodden (ankle).

Dirty work

Wide receiver Vincent Jackson’s name may not have appeared in the stat column in last week’s win over the Rams, but if you think he didn’t contribute, guess again. Jackson and the Chargers wide receivers were extremely active in the run game, clearing safeties out of the way in order for Tomlinson to enjoy a 183-yard day.

“Vincent made a play the other day that goes right on the highlight tape,” Schottenheimer said. “He came in and the timing was perfect. He knocked the guy and just wiped him out. He took a hole that was probably two feet wide and made it about six or eight feet wide. I could have run through it. Not very fast, but I could have run through it.”

Schottenheimer took notice, as did Tomlinson.

“Our receivers all did a really good job blocking,” LT said. “To have a day like that, everyone has to do their part, and everybody got it done.”

Close calls

Although the Browns have sputtered to a 2-5 start, they’re certainly putting up quite a fight for their opponents. Only one of their seven games, a 34-17 loss at Cincinnati in Week 2, has been decided by more than 10 points.

“They don’t blow a lot of assignments,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “You’ve really got to chose your spots against them. They’ve played a lot of tight games.”

The loss to the Bengals is also the only game this season in which Cleveland has given up more than 21 points.

Helping out

The Chargers and the San Diego-Imperial County Labor Council will be collecting non-perishable food items at this Sunday’s game to kick off the Chargers Annual Holiday Food Drive.

Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable, canned goods to the gates at Qualcomm Stadium before the game. The most needed items are canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, soup, cereal and non-food items such as toothpaste and deodorant. Collection bins will be at all gates for your convenience. The fan donating the most food will receive an autographed football by LaDainian Tomlinson.

Proceeds from this year’s Food Drive will benefit Operation HomeFront, providing badly needed resources for our struggling local military families and Partners for Hunger Relief a program of the San Diego Rescue Mission.

Congrats

Safety Marlon McCree was recognized as the Chargers Alumni Player of the Week following his clutch performance against the Rams. The first-year Bolt registered seven tackles and returned a fumble 79 yards for a touchdown in the victory.

Blackout lifted

The local television blackout for Sunday’s Chargers-Browns Alumni Day game at Qualcomm Stadium has been lifted. The game will be televised in Southern California on CBS (KFMB-TV, Channel 8 in San Diego and KCBS-TV, Channel 2 in Los Angeles). Gus Johnson and former Buffalo Bill Steve Tasker will call the action.

A limited number of Club Level tickets are still available for the game and can be purchased at the Chargers’ ticket office at Gate C at Qualcomm Stadium, online at www.Chargers.com or by calling (619) 220-TIXS (8497).

More than 6,000 tickets still remain for the Chargers-Raiders game on Nov. 26, and that game is expected to be blacked out in the local television markets. It must become a sellout by Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23 for the blackout to be lifted.
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Old 11-04-2006, 11:14 AM
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gazork gazork is offline
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Unreal, given the hitting that he's involved in in almost every play.

Having that bowling ball profile helps to stay healthy ...
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