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Chargers : Coach Tires of Quarterback Talk

August 15, 1989|DON PATTERSON

SAN DIEGO — Al Saunders heard the question over and over last year as Chargers coach. Dan Henning, his successor, already is hearing it more than he would like this year.

People ask: What about the Charger quarterbacks? No coach has really had an answer since Dan Fouts decided it was safer sitting in the broadcast booth than standing a few feet in front of defensive linemen.

Sunday's exhibition loss to Dallas didn't make this year's situation any clearer. Rookie Billy Joe Tolliver completed three of five passes for a grand total of 11 yards. David Archer, who played for Henning in Atlanta, completed 13 of 26 for 143 yards. Mark Malone was four of 11 for 51 yards. Both Archer and Malone were intercepted once.

After the game, Henning said he thought reporters were more concerned about the quarterback situation than he was. Asked if the Chargers should shop for another quarterback, he said: "I've addressed that question enough."

He addressed it again Monday before practice at UC San Diego.

Asked if he had expressed a desire to look for another quarterback, he said: "What I express and what I don't express to the personnel department will not be discussed in this forum ever."

Henning said only two of the three quarterbacks who played Sunday will play Saturday in Chicago against the Bears, but he hasn't decided who will sit out.

"At this point in time," he said, "I'm going to sit here and wait on it."

He'll also have to wait on Mark Vlasic, his fourth quarterback. The Chargers won both games Vlasic started last season, but he injured his knee in the third quarter of his second start, an eventual 38-24 victory over the Rams, and missed the remainder of the season.

Last week, trainers cleared Vlasic to practice when he feels comfortable.

"Vlasic's situation is status quo," Henning said. "If we do put him out in the mix and he's not ready, then he's done. The possibility that he's not ready still exists."

Unless there is "an extraordinary situation," Henning said roster cuts will not be made until after the Chargers travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers Aug. 23.

Steve Ortmayer, Charger director of football operations, met Monday with holdout defensive end Joe Phillips, but doesn't know when he expects Phillips to agree to terms. Ortmayer said there have been no new negotiations with running back Gary Anderson or rookie defensive end Burt Grossman, the Chargers' first draft pick.

Tight end Andy Parker, a free agent formerly of San Dieguito High School who played with the Raiders the past five seasons, sustained a slight ligament tear in his knee during the first quarter Sunday. He will miss this week's practices and may undergo arthroscopic surgery.

Napoleon McCallum, acquired from the Raiders in last year's Jim Lachey trade, made a brief appearance Sunday and, according to Henning, was supposed to play more. Problem was, he was slated to take the field on first-down situations in the second half. Because the Chargers were behind, Henning said first downs had to be played like third downs for catchup purposes. So McCallum finished with only one reception for two yards and no carries.

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