Rivers won't rock the boat

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Oct 14, 2005


SAN DIEGO ---- For two years now, Philip Rivers has stood patiently in the background and refrained from making the kind of waves that disrupt locker room harmony.

Why would this week be any different?

Rivers is unlikely to see the field Saturday in a meaningless game against the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium as coach Marty Schottenheimer hopes to squeeze one more win out of his starters.

And that's just fine with Rivers.

"A 10-win season is not something to be satisfied with, but it's something to be proud of," Rivers said Thursday, reiterating the goal Schottenheimer has placed before the team since its elimination from playoff contention.

"You play the starters, you do what you can do to win. I didn't expect anything else, to be honest with you."

Many did, assuming the Chargers would want to showcase Rivers, given their impending decision this offseason to either trade him, hand him the starting job, or keep him around as a high-priced backup.

The 24-year-old's even-keeled reaction, however, was just as expected.

Rivers, the fourth selection in the 2003 NFL Draft and once considered the Chargers' quarterback of the future, has towed the company line all along. He has called Brees a deserving starter and accepted his role as a clipboard caddy with good humor and a strong work ethic.

"When I see him, he's cheering Drew on and he's cheering everyone on," said tight end Antonio Gates. "It isn't that he doesn't want to play, he just wants to win. It's always good when you have good people like Philip around.

"You can understand his situation and respect him much more when you can take all of that and (have him) still come out and work hard every day like he does."

Said Schottenheimer: "He has been the master of decorum."

Rivers has had ample reason to be disillusioned. After making 51 starts and throwing 1,710 passes in four years at North Carolina State, he has thrown a mere eight regular-season passes in the NFL ---- all coming in last year's meaningless finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"It's been tough, because that's the thing for me is the competitiveness," Rivers said. "It's hard to get the competition out of you (in practice). You can compete with these guys as much as you can, but it's tough to get that completely fulfilled.

"That part has been harder than any."

Over time, however, Rivers said his role has become easier to swallow. In his rookie season, he entered with the expectation that he would be handed the reins at some point. This year, with Brees coming off a Pro Bowl appearance, Rivers heard the sideline beckoning loud and clear.

It's unclear, though, how Rivers would be able to handle that role for another season.

"It would be tough," he said. "Honestly, that's not what I hope for from an individual standpoint. For my career, it's gonna get to where I need to start playing."

And he's hoping for a decision this offseason that will allow that to happen.

"To be honest I trust, like Drew does, that the organization is going to do what's best for them, what's best for Drew, what's best for me, and get all that accomplished," Rivers said. "I think we can all come out good in the whole deal."

Whether that means a trade is only known by Chargers brass at this point ---- and general manager A.J. Smith has never been one to tip his hand on such matters.

Smith insists his focus is clearly on the present season, saying he has "no idea" how much other teams might covet Rivers during the offseason.

"I don't know what calls I'll get or what the interest will be on quarterbacks or other positions," Smith said. "And we don't discuss our football business."

Smith did say Rivers has done a "fantastic job" handling his situation.

Particularly this week, as Rivers continues to recite the company line in the face of so much uncertainty.

"I've tried hard this whole year," Rivers said, "not to get caught up in the future."