SAN DIEGO — Much has been said the last three weeks about the failure of the Chargers' running game. What has happened to Curtis Adams, Gary Anderson, Tim Spencer and Barry Redden?
The numbers read: 126 yards and 5 first downs on the ground in the last three games. Even worse, the Chargers keep missing on third-and-short runs, enough so that on a third-and-one play Sunday against Houston, tight end Rod Bernstine was asked to pick up the first down on an end around.
But are the running backs deserving of all the blame? How about the guys on the offensive line? Blocks, of course, must be made in order for ground to be gained.
"I don't really think we're in any kind of a slump as a group or anything like that," center Don Macek said. "To be effective, you have to have good play-calling, good blocking and good running. Everything is a little off right now."
Tackle Sam Claphan said the Chargers' recent failures on third and short have been a matter of bad luck more than anything else.
"We call the play and if the defense is right there, sometimes there's no way we (the offensive line) can get them out of there," Claphan said. "Those plays are like do-or-die, and it seems lately that every play we call, the defense ends up being right there."
Nevertheless, there is some concern up front.
"Sure, I'm concerned the way things have been going lately," tackle Jim Lachey said. "But I think, in order to run effectively, you have to keep doing it. If you look at (Eric) Dickerson, he'll gain two yards, then three yards, and finally, later, he'll break one.
"We have the capability to be a good running team, but the situation to keep running hasn't presented itself lately because we've been behind early."
Inside linebacker Steve Busick, who signed with the Chargers after the strike but hasn't played because of injuries, is the only player who could be activated for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh, according to Coach Al Saunders. Busick's strength is against the run, and the Steelers like to run.
"We haven't made any decisions yet," Saunders said. "If there are any changes, Steve would be the only possibility."