Jared Gaither returned to practice today.
Don’t worry. You’re not hallucinating.
You read those words right. Jared Gaither practiced today for the first time since July 28th, which may turn out to be a godsend for the man lining up behind center.
“Quarterback Philip Rivers has been pressured on 45 percent of his 111 drop-backs, the highest percentage in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus,” said Michael Gehlken of the U-T San Diego. “He was pressured 20 of 40 times Sunday against the Falcons, throwing both his interceptions when under duress.”
Gee, how has Rivers survived through three games given those stats? Better yet, how has he not thrown more than three picks?
I don’t know the answers to those questions. However, I do know that Jared Gaither might be the key to Rivers’ success. (No, I didn’t mean to write Antonio Gates there. I’ll explain.)
Look, Jared Gaither played his first game last year for the Chargers in Week 13. From that point forward, Rivers only threw three interceptions and completed more than 70 percent of his passes on four occasions. In the five games prior to Gaither’s arrival, Rivers was picked off eight times and only completed more than 60 percent of his passes on two occasions. And he even had a game below 50 percent, which is unheard of for a guy like Rivers.
Believe me now?
So Philip Rivers should be itching to get Jared Gaither back in the mix, but when can he reasonably expect that to happen, given that Gaither’s been sidelined for nearly two months?
Conventional wisdom would say that Gaither won’t return for a couple weeks, and even when he does, it’ll take some time to shake off the rust. However, U-T San Diego columnist Kevin Acee says not so fast.
“J. Gaither limited today but hopes to play at KC. Don’t rule out,” Acee tweeted. “Talented, played 5 days after arriving in ’11.”
So, be prepared. If you see Jared Gaither lined up to the left of Philip Rivers on Sunday, don’t worry.
You won’t be hallucinating.