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Rivers hopes solidified O-line leads Chargers back to top

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Posted Feb. 07, 2012 @ 3:20 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

Prior to the season, numerous pundits predicted Philip Rivers would end his season in Indianapolis at Super Bowl XLVI. Technically they were right. Rivers was in the championship city, but not because he led the Chargers to the AFC title. Instead, it was because he was a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

There were several reasons why Rivers didn't end up there with his Chargers teammates. Throughout the 2011 season, San Diego had lots of issues, specifically on offense. Problems in protection and turnovers both doomed the team, especially in a six-game losing streak during the middle of the campaign that dropped the team from first place to last in the AFC West. A late recovery had them back in the playoff hunt for a while, but it was not enough.

Speaking to PFW after the Payton Award press conference in Indianapolis, Rivers said he is eager to see what his team does on the offensive line. The Pro Bowl QB said he has had contact with OG Kris Dielman, who missed the final 10 games of the season after suffering a seizure following a concussion. Rivers has not, however, spoken to OT Marcus McNeill, who suffered a serious neck injury that cost him seven games.

"I think that remains to be seen, we'll see what happens the next few months or so. It will be good, whatever it is," Rivers said about the offensive line. "Obviously it would be great if we could get Kris (back). Marcus … I know he seems upbeat about coming back.

"Fortunately, (OG) Tyronne Green played a bunch of ball last year, and played well. (OG Louis) Vasquez probably played his best, had his best season had he not had some injuries. And the fact that we got (OT Jared) Gaither at the end of the year, I think his contract's up too. I think we'll see what happens the next few weeks."

Rivers was sacked 30 times during the season, but was taken down in only two of the team's final seven games. The QB is hopeful the momentum the team had at the end of the season  they won four of their last five games — will carry over to 2012, when the Chargers hope to return to the top of the division.

"It's wide open, every division is. Who knows? We got off to a great start and then had the six-game stretch," Rivers said. "You got to find a way to get in. I think that's where it starts is in the West, we have to win the AFC West. We obviously haven't the last two years, we've been a game out. So, you find a way to get in and go from there."

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