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Even without Gaither, Chargers able to protect Rivers

Philip Rivers

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)


The Chargers were without starting left tackle Jared Gaither last night, using undrafted rookie Michael Harris in his place.

Other injuries made a hash of the position in the preseason, and they started a group of offensive linemen (including left guard Tyronne Green, center Nick Hardwick, right guard Louis Vasquez and right tackle Jeromey Clary) who hadn’t played together as a group since the Aug. 9 preseason opener.

You’d think they had been together for much longer.

Quarterback Philip Rivers was only sacked once, giving him plenty of time to pick the Raiders apart.

While the focus was on Harris, Rivers said he was surprised that the Raiders didn’t do more to confuse him.

“I thought going into the game that Mike matched up with that guy [Raiders defensive end Matt Shaughnessy],” Rivers said, via Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego. “It was more about were they going to try to overwhelm that side with blitzes and schemes, and they didn’t.

“And not that he couldn’t have handled it. It was just kind of one-on-one all night, and he did a heck of a job.”

The Chargers clearly need to get Gaither back from his back problem, but offensive line play can often be about cohesion more than individual parts, and at least in the opener, it was effective.