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'Tough' man Philip Rivers looks to clean up game

If you're putting together a list of NFL players in line for a bounce-back season in 2012, San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers deserves a spot right near the top.

Rivers threw a career-high 20 interceptions in 2011, but history shows he's simply too good go down that path again. A look at his splits also tells us the QB was able to make corrections (or at least got luckier) by the end of the season, throwing just three picks in the final six games after giving up a whopping 17 over the first 10.

Now entering his seventh season as the starter in San Diego, Rivers, 30, has a clear goal in mind.

“I think the biggest thing is, obviously, taking care of the football -- something I’ve done for the most part in my career and last year wasn’t as good at it," Rivers told KLSD-AM in San Diego (via SportsRadioInterviews.com) on Thursday. "So that’s always an emphasis, but that’s the biggest thing that stood out, because we went up and down the field, but you have two turnovers in crucial situations and you lose the game.”

In other Rivers news, NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell called him the NFL's toughest pocket passer in a blog post this week. When told of this, coach Norv Turner gave reporters the equivalent of, "No duh."

"I don't need someone from the outside watching tape to tell me that," Turner said via U-T San Diego. "I've been with a lot of guys and watched a lot of guys, and I think people around the league have great respect for Philip Rivers' mental and physical toughness."

The Chargers have had a reputation for underachieving during Rivers' run with the team, but last season might have marked the first time you could attribute the team's failures to the QB. Rivers will be driven to re-establish himself as one of the game's elite, and that could spell trouble for the rest of the AFC West.

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