Osgood to miss final month

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Oct 14, 2005

Whoever first came up with the term special teams in football must have been inspired by a player such as Kassim Osgood. Because whenever a team loses a layer such as Osgood to an injury, the coaches have more than one hole to fill.

The Chargers face that predicament for the final five games of the regular season after losing Osgood for the season with a torn pectoral muscle that requires surgery. Osgood, a third-year receiver from San Diego State, was injured in the first quarter of the Sunday night’s 34-10 win over the Oakland Raiders.

Although Osgood was listed as a backup wide receiver in your program, the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder’s value to the team extended beyond his two receptions this year and 28 catches his first two seasons.

Osgood’s role included his ability to block down field on pass and running plays and his versatility to play on all special teams.
“He’s what you call a core player,” Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said Monday afternoon.

Osgood came into the Raiders game leading the team in special teams tackles with 19 and was being mentioned as candidate for the Pro Bowl berth that goes to a special teams player.

“He’s one of our captains and his absence is going to have a definite effect on a number of things we do,” Schottenheimer said. “Fortunately we brought in Scott McGarrahan, who is a pretty accomplished guy in the kicking game. Hopefully he’ll be able to get in the mix – maybe not in the spots Kassim was in, but hopefully he’ll help us in that regard.”
Against the Raiders, veteran free safety Jerry Wilson had to fill Osgood’s kick coverage role and backup strong safety Clinton Hart, who started in place of injured Terrence Kiel, took over the kickoff coverage role.

The Chargers signed McGarrahan, an eighth-year safety who formerly was with the Tennessee Titans, last week to fill the roster spot that opened when linebacker Ben Leber was placed on injured reserve. McGarrahan (6-1, 205) was on the inactive list for the Raiders game, but he can expect to be activated for Sunday’s home game against the Miami Dolphins, another one of his former teams.

Rookie wide receiver Vincent Jackson, the second-round pick from Northern Colorado, will fill Osgood’s role as a backup receiver while also seeing more special teams work. Jackson’s playing opportunities were limited early in the year by injuries dating back to training camp, but Schottenheimer likes the 6-5, 241-pounder’s progress in recent weeks, including his time on special teams.

“Jackson has done a reasonably good job in that regard,” Schottenheimer said. “He’s got terrific speed. He’s really made strides.”

Osgood’s loss comes at a time when the Chargers had been concerned about poor kickoff coverage until showing improvement in the last two wins at the Washington Redskins and over the Raiders.

“(Wide receiver) Reche Caldwell did a terrific job and (linebacker) Matt Wilhelm had four tackles, I think (three actually), on the kicking game alone,” Schottenheimer said. “(Linebacker) Stephen Cooer continues to give us good play and (safety) Hanik Milligan has performed well for us. We’re making progress, although as I’ve said before we need to do it over a sustained period of time before I get excited about it.”

They’ll be working with one less special player.