SAN DIEGO — Charger officials will confirm today what has been this week's worst-kept secret: Mark Herrmann will start at quarterback in place of injured Dan Fouts against the Seahawks Sunday in Seattle.
Herrmann said he met with quarterback coach Roger Theder Thursday after practice. He said the conversation went like this:
Herrmann: "What's the deal?"
Theder: "It looks like it's going to be you."
As of Friday afternoon, Coach Al Saunders would not confirm the decision, saying, "We will make no announcement until Saturday (today)."
Fouts, who pulled his right calf muscle two weeks ago and then reaggravated it Sunday just before he led the team to a 16-14 victory over the Raiders, did not practice Friday, thus missing a week of workouts.
"It would have certainly helped things to have him out there," Saunders said.
All of which has left Fouts in something less than the best of moods.
"What am I supposed to say?" he asked Friday afternoon. "I'm getting better, but I'm not going to know until Sunday. It's too soon to tell you yes or no (regarding starting). I have no idea.
"I've been through this lots of times, and sometimes I don't know until right before the game. Look at last Sunday."
The quiet Herrmann, who hasn't taken a game snap since the exhibition season, is taking this pretty much the way he takes everything else.
"I'm anxious, excited," he said. "I feel as good as I can after a week of work. I would have liked more time, but that's what happens."
Injured safety Jeffrey Dale made a surprise appearance in the Chargers' locker room Friday with an even more surprising tale.
Earlier this month, a few hours before he underwent career-threatening back surgery, Dale was informed that he didn't need the surgery. A bulging disc on the right side of his back apparently had slipped back into place. He is now attending "back school" at the St. Mary's Spine Center in San Francisco, and he hopes to begin a comeback attempt this spring.
"I just thank the Lord," said Dale, who was one of the Chargers' top defenders last season.
After twice changing his mind about surgery, Dale finally decided to go through with it on the morning of Nov. 6. He checked into St. Mary's hospital in San Francisco on the night of Nov. 5. A physical therapist whom Dale only remembers as "Danielle" came to his room to give him one last routine test. Except that when he should have experienced pain, as when he touched his chin to his chest with his right leg extended, he felt nothing. The therapist was stunned. He had passed the test and was released the next day.
Charger Notes Previously inactive or disabled players who were activated for Sunday's game are linebacker David Brandon, cornerback Darrel Hopper, defensive end Keith Baldwin and guard/tackle Broderick Thompson. Deactivated with injuries were Terry Unrein (finger) and Al Williams (placed on injured reserve with a hamstring pull).