Philip Rivers to limit reps in prep for long season

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- As Philip Rivers prepares for his 16th NFL season, his preseason work is looking a little different -- regardless of his preference.

Rivers, 37, only threw 14 passes in the preseason last year and is expected to be limited even further in 2019. There's even talk of him sitting out the preseason entirely.

"When you have some players that are older, established players -- like some of ours are -- I'm not opposed to it," Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said Wednesday when asked if they would consider sitting their veterans out of the preseason."

Said Rivers when asked about limiting his reps, "As a competitor, as someone who enjoys practice, it's always hard. You almost need them to protect you from yourself. It can be positive. You have to find that right recipe so that you are ready and prepared to go have a great season, but also to be fresh and be smart."

The plan clearly worked last season. Rivers played at an MVP level -- 32 touchdowns and 4,308 passing yards -- and the Chargers (12-4) had their best record since 2009.

Numbers are great, but the best part for Rivers was the way he felt. After the season -- which ended in the AFC Divisional Round -- Rivers said he "felt great" and that limiting his reps before and during the season was a catalyst for that. Coincidence or not, Rivers' 508 pass attempts in 2018 were his fewest since 2009, the last time the Chargers won more than 12 games.

Still, it's hard for the workout warrior to tone it down. We're talking about a man who commutes over 70 miles from San Diego to Costa Mesa for work every day.

"When you talk about reps, he's always been one of the hardest working guys on the team," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. "When he's out there, he works hard. That's what makes him one of the best -- his preparation. He's going to prepare the same, but we just want to take some of the physical toll off of him.

"There's going to be some resistance (to limiting reps), but that's the same with all great players."

The trio of Lynn, Rivers and Whisenhunt is entering Year 3, so there aren't many question marks in terms of X's and O's.

But the ever-stubborn Rivers always wants to do things his way -- even if he's familiar with the system.

"I think he wants to do everything," Whisenhunt said. "But last year we did a good bit of (limiting him) during training camp and we'll probably do the same this year. He started off the season hot last year and a lot of that was part of the plan."

If Rivers can survive the long summer while preserving his body, the Chargers should make a deep postseason run.

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