Rivers practices, Gates misses second straight day

SAN DIEGO -- Philip Rivers hobbled through half of practice Thursday, increasing the chances he'll play in Sunday's home game against Detroit.

"That's the plan, but it's not Sunday," Rivers said. "We don't have to know right now."

Rivers said his sprained left knee is getting better. He took half his normal snaps a day after taking none.

"I felt good," said Rivers, who was hurt in Sunday's game at Tennessee, but returned to lead the AFC West-leading Chargers (8-5) to an overtime win. "It's getting better. It's a process. How you feel on Thursday isn't always how you're going to feel on Sunday, but it's certainly gotten a lot better.

"I just think it's important at this position to get some reps in practice rather than go out there cold. Again, I took half of them today and felt pretty good. Hopefully, I'll increase it tomorrow and be ready."

Added coach Norv Turner: "He's made great progress. I thought he looked good. He threw the ball well. I thought he moved well in what we asked him to do. We'll just do a little bit more with him tomorrow."

Billy Volek would start if Rivers can't. Volek made a cameo appearance after Rivers was hurt in the second quarter Sunday, going 0-for-2 with an interception.

"We've got to get Billy ready to play, we've got to get Philip ready to play," Turner said. "Philip, it's easier to get him ready to play. Obviously, he's been playing. We've gotten Billy good reps over the last two days."

Tight end Antonio Gates missed practice for the second straight day, along with defensive tackle Jamal Williams.

"Antonio's a lot better today than he was yesterday and I would hope he can do parts of practice tomorrow," Turner said. "He's getting a lot better. If he progresses the way he has over the last two days, then I think he'll be all right."

Guard Mike Goff (foot) returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday. Wide receiver Craig Davis sustained an Achilles' tendon injury.

Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman will miss the game with a sprained left knee.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.

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