Parker four catches away from big payoff

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Oct 14, 2005

By Kevin Acee and Jay Posner

December 29, 2005

Ask around the locker room which Chargers player is the hardest worker and the answer will most often be Eric Parker.

He practices and plays hard and practices and plays hurt.

Playing through neck, ankle and foot injuries, he has missed just one game this season and is the Chargers' fourth-leading receiver with 49 catches. His 638 yards rank third on the team. He has not dropped a pass this season.

Yet he still feels the need to outwork everyone.

"You've got to be doing something when the lights are off and nobody is looking," said Parker, about to finish his fourth NFL season. "I was raised like that. I'm going to earn my paycheck."

Speaking of which, Parker has a chance to nearly double his 2006 paychecks.

Should he catch four passes in Saturday's season finale against the Denver Broncos, Parker would have averaged 50 receptions over the past two seasons, and an escalator in his contract would kick in that adds $500,000 to the $545,000 salary he is scheduled to receive.

"Some people have mentioned it," Parker said of the bonus. "But I'm just going out to win this game."
Williams injured
Coach Marty Schottenheimer said Pro Bowl nose tackle Jamal Williams is questionable for Saturday after missing practice yesterday with a sprained foot.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," Schottenheimer said.

Williams has missed only one game because of injury in the last three seasons. (He also sat out last year's season finale to rest for the playoffs.)

If Williams can't play, Jacques Cesaire would make his first start at nose tackle, backed up by Ryon Bingham, who has yet to appear in a game in two seasons. Both players are about 45-50 pounds lighter than the 348-pound Williams.

San Diego also might have to play without its two starting safeties. Terrence Kiel (ankle) definitely is out and Bhawoh Jue (knee) "probably is not going to make it," Schottenheimer said. Clinton Hart and Jerry Wilson would be the new starters.
Godfrey update
Veteran linebacker Randall Godfrey said after Saturday's game he wasn't sure he would follow through on his earlier plan to retire after this season. Schottenheimer said he would talk to Godfrey about his future Monday when he meets individually with all the players.

"I will say this: He's still a very good player," Schottenheimer said. "I'd love to have him back."

Despite missing two games at midseason, Godfrey is tied for the league lead with four fumble recoveries and ranks second on the Chargers with 72 tackles.
Playing to win
Schottenheimer was asked again about his approach for Saturday's game.

"The best way I could characterize it," he said, "is we will approach it like it's the first game of the year."

If the Chargers get a big lead, would he consider putting in some of his reserves?

"I think it's a bit presumptuous to suggest that we would get a big lead on the Denver Broncos," Schottenheimer said. "Be assured of this: Any decision we make with regard to player personnel is going to be driven by one thing – securing a victory. That's the way we're going to approach it."

He said he has discussed not giving Philip Rivers a start with A.J. Smith and that the Chargers' general manager "shares my feeling."