Fonoti has operation, listed doubtful


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Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

When Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer addressed the media on Monday, he emphatically spoke of his team’s need to improve their protection in the passing game. If they are to pick things up Sunday, they may have to do it without one of their starting offensive linemen.

Guard Toniu Fonoti underwent a minor operation Wednesday morning to insert a plate in his hand in hopes of causing his broken third metacarpal to heal faster. Fonoti is listed as doubtful for the Chargers’ Sunday night contest against the New York Giants.

“The idea was that his hand would heal quicker and make him closer to 100 percent sooner,” Schottenheimer said. “If he’s unable to play this week, we expect him back for the Patriots next week.”

Third-year pro Kris Dielman will start in Fonoti’s place if he is unable to play. Dielman replaced Fonoti in the second half of last Sunday’s loss at Denver, and Schottenheimer liked what he saw.

“He’s done a nice job for us,” Schottenheimer said. “You hate to lose a starter, but obviously that’s a part of our game. We have every confidence in Kris.”

Said Dielman, “I'll take what I've been taught the last couple of years and see if it works. (Offensive line coach Carl) Mauck has us prepared well and I have to do what he’s taught me and take it from there.”

Dielman appeared in 15 games in 2004, mostly on special teams and as a reserve. His upbeat personality is a hit in the locker room, and his teammates are confident in his ability to get the job done.

“He’s a rowdy guy who is going to get out there and give you all he’s got,” center Nick Hardwick said. “He’s going to mix it up and be physical. We all hate to lose Toniu, but Kris is a good player. He’ll do just fine.”

The challenge for Dielman and the Chargers offensive line will again be to hold up in the face of pressure. When Schottenheimer popped in the tape of the New York’s Week 1 and 2 wins, he saw the same thing that he faced in the Bolts’ first two contests – lots of blitzes from the defense.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt they will be blitzing a lot because that’s what they did against New Orleans and Arizona,” Schottenheimer said. “That’s what they’re doing. That’s their style. Most of it is zone coverage behind it. What we’ll see won’t be any different from what they did in their first two ballgames. We’ve just got to get it blocked.”

In the first two weeks of the season, the constant pressure the Chargers have faced has made it difficult to get LaDainian Tomlinson the ball in space. As quarterback Drew Brees pointed out Wednesday, the challenge is not to simply get LT touches but to get him quality ones.

“When we get him the ball, we want to give it to him with a chance for something to happen,” Brees said. “It’s not, ‘Let’s give the ball to LT in a nine-man front and let them have tackling practice.’ That’s not the point. When we encounter every game situation, we’re looking at how we can put LT in a situation to succeed, whether it’s throwing it to him or handing it off.”

Last week in Denver, Brees was sacked four times which put the Chargers situations that made it difficult for them to utilize Tomlinson.

“We just have to put ourselves in a position where we get the ball off and get it out to him,” Schottenheimer said. “We turned defenders loose on several occasions, which created negative plays. We just didn’t have any answers for 3rd-and-11 or even more. The worst thing you can do to a quarterback in the NFL is to turn loose a guy that he expects to be blocked. We did that on three different occasions, and we couldn’t dig ourselves out.”

The Chargers hope to avoid such situations when Michael Strahan and company come to town on Sunday.

What’s the story?

One of the biggest side stories to Sunday’s contest is Eli Manning’s first trip to San Diego as a profession. Last April, the Chargers traded Manning to the Giants after selecting him with the top pick in the NFL Draft. For Chargers players, it’s a non-issue.

“It doesn’t matter who is coming in,” Brees said. “We just need a win. He’s a good player and he’s having a good year. They’re a tough team. We have our work cut out for us.”

While Chargers fans may be hoping for some added punch from the Bolts defense, linebacker Donnie Edwards promised that his only extra motivation for Sunday is to pick up a win.

“I always want to get a good lick on the quarterback, but it really doesn’t mean anything to us right now that we’re playing against Eli,” Edwards said. “The bottom line is that we need to get in the win column.”

Other Injuries

Wide receiver Vincent Jackson (calf) was the only player in addition to Fonoti that did not practice Wednesday. He’s listed as questionable on the injury report. Defensive end Igor Olshansky (ankle/knee) did return to practice after missing last week but is listed as questionable. Defensive end Jacques Cesaire (elbow) and wide receiver Kassim Osgood (ribs) are probable.

The Giants injury report includes kicker Jay Feeley (back), linebacker Barrett Green (knee/ankle), cornerback Corey Webster (quad), and safety Shaun Williams (hamstring) as questionable. Feeley and Webster did not participate in team drills Wednesday.

Tickets Available

More than 1,300 tickets remain on sale for Sunday night’s nationally-televised game against the New York Giants, signaling the likelihood of a local television blackout. All tickets must be sold by 5:30 p.m. Thursday in order for the game to be televised in the San Diego vicinity.

Tickets are available at Gate C at Qualcomm Stadium, or by calling TicketMaster at (619) 220-TIXS (8497).

Watch Sammy

Cornerback Sammy Davis and friend Chris Spencer advanced to the final six in the USA Network's "Made in the USA" last week, and tonight they'll appear on the show's second episode. The program pits undiscovered inventors against each other in a competition to have their product appear on the Home Shopping Network (HSN). Davis and Spencer are marketing their "Hydration System." The show airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. PST.