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It doesn't seem like Raider Week without Marty leading the Bolts

SAN DIEGO -- It just doesn't seem like Raider Week without Marty Schottenheimer around.

The San Diego Chargers will play the archrival Oakland Raiders on Sunday for the first time since Schottenheimer was fired in February due to front-office friction.

No one seemed to hate -- or beat -- the Raiders more than Schottenheimer did. On Wednesdays of the rivalry week he'd stroll to the podium and, in his best ballcoach bluster, open his weekly news conference by declaring: "Raider Week."

When he gathered his players together at the end of practice, he'd sometimes raise his voice for effect and describe the horrible things the Raiders planned to do to them.

The Raiders, though, rarely got the chance to work over Schottenheimer's teams. San Diego has beaten Oakland seven straight times, all under Schottenheimer. Four of those wins came while Norv Turner, Schottenheimer's successor with the Chargers, was coaching the Raiders.

Schottenheimer, who's cashing some $4 million worth of settlement checks from the Chargers this year, was 27-7 against the Silver and Black overall during his long career.

And to think, there's barely a whiff of vitriol this week, even though Turner was blown out by the Raiders after coaching them to a 9-23 record in 2004-05.

"Yeah, I mean, obviously it was personal with Marty for the fact that he just really didn't like the Raiders, so it was always a little something extra," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "Norv is a little more laid back. So it was a little bit different in that aspect of kind of getting fired up. You really don't get fired up like Marty got you fired up."

Tomlinson has seven 100-yard games against the Raiders, including his career high of 243 on Dec. 28, 2003, the beginning of the seven-game winning streak against the Raiders. He's rushed for 944 yards and eight touchdowns during the streak, caught one TD pass and thrown two.

"When Marty was here, he wanted to prove a point by running the football. That's what we did," the reigning league MVP said.

If Turner was steamed about getting fired by Al Davis, he's apparently gotten over it. He was offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers last year when they beat the Raiders, 34-20.

Asked his thoughts on facing one of his former teams, Turner cracked: "Well, you know, when you bounce around like I have, I can do that quite often."

Turner, who's 60-85-1 in three NFL heading coaching gigs, turned serious and said: "It's a big game. It doesn't matter if I coached there or not. It's a big football game for everyone in our organization and everyone in their organization."

It's a different game, too. The Raiders, coming off their bye, lead the mediocre AFC West at 2-2. The Chargers (2-3) snapped their three-game losing streak last week by routing the Broncos 41-3 at Denver and would like to have a win for more momentum going into their bye weekend.

Shockingly, there appears to be a touch of love between the organizations.

Raiders receiver Jerry Porter calls Turner "my dawg Norv. Gotta love my dawg Norv," Porter said, using an athletic term of endearment. "It will be funny to see some of the plays he calls and still remember them."

Turner was fired following the 2005 season for failing to quickly turn around the Raiders.

"If Norv had one more year with his offense, and the way the defense played last year, any semblance of offense, things would have been completely turned around, because years before we were playing better than the defense was, and we needed the defense to step up," Porter said. "Now, the defense is up and the offense is slacking. I said I wanted him back, but it doesn't matter what I want."

The Raiders, who've already won as many games as they did last year en route to the league's worst record, will try to snap a 15-game losing streak against division opponents. The last time they won against an AFC West team was at Denver on Nov. 28, 2004, under Turner.

That is a bigger motivational factor than facing Turner.

"It's a division opponent. It's not Norv's team," said Raiders middle linebacker Kirk Morrison, who played at San Diego State. "We know the personnel. We know who's on the other side. It doesn't matter who the coach is. They are pretty much the same team we've faced in the past. They return like 20 starters from last year. The core of their team is still there, so I don't think it will be much different."

While the Raiders don't know if running back LaMont Jordan will play due to a lower back injury, they do know quarterback Daunte Culpepper will be making his second start. Two weekends ago, Culpepper ran for three touchdowns and threw for two to win a grudge game against his former team, helping the Raiders beat the winless Miami Dolphins 35-17.

After being staggered by losses at New England and Green Bay, and a home defeat to Kansas City -- when fans started chanting for Schottenheimer -- the Chargers appear to have found their stride. It's taken them this long to get comfortable with Turner and the other new coaches on their staff.

"I think anytime you have a coaching change, even though it's the same group of guys, and practically the same system, there are little things that are different," Tomlinson said. "It's not the same people that are calling the plays. So in return, it may take a little while to jell, to get used to the coaching staff, the coaching staff to get used to what the players do well. For us it has taken pretty much a whole month."

And now, it's Raider Week.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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