Volek excited to give Chargers starting QB Rivers a break Sunday

SAN DIEGO -- Billy Volek has been sent into games three times this season to mop up for Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers, mostly to take a knee and run out the clock.

"It's crushing my rushing stats," Volek joked Friday. "Every time I put my knee down, it's negative yardage."

Sure enough, Volek has eight rushes for a total of minus-8 yards. He also has one completion for 15 yards, giving him a nifty passer rating of 118.8.

Volek, a 10-year NFL veteran, is expected to receive his most extensive playing time in two years Sunday when his red-hot San Diego Chargers host the Washington Redskins in a meaningless regular-season finale.

The AFC West champion Chargers (12-3), who have won 10 consecutive games, have nothing to gain except to avoid any more injuries. They've already clinched the AFC's No. 2 playoff seed and a first-round bye.

Chargers coach Norv Turner said Rivers will start against the Redskins, then make way for Volek at some point.

"I want to see Billy get some good opportunities," Turner said.

Volek's last significant action came when he led the winning drive at Indianapolis in January 2008 to put the Chargers in the AFC Championship Game. Entering after Rivers hurt his right knee, Volek was 3-of-4 passing for 48 yards and then scored on a 1-yard sneak in the 28-24 victory.

"That was fun," Volek said. "The atmosphere was great, the playoffs, but I'm just looking forward to Sunday. I miss playing, so I'm pretty excited."

Volek didn't take a snap in 2008.

"I've never done that in my career, which is pretty crazy," Volek said. "All the tight games we were in, Philip, when we have a have a quarterback like that, he's a very sturdy guy. But yeah, I'm excited about this opportunity."

This season, Volek played at the end of two blowout wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and at the end of the Chargers' last game, a Christmas night victory at Tennessee, where the quarterback spent six-plus seasons.

"I think it would be good for him," Turner said. "He hasn't got a chance to play much. Obviously we lived it two years ago in Indianapolis where he went in and hadn't played much and went in and played great. It was one of the reasons we were able to win the game. Getting him a few plays and getting him a chance to get back and play at that speed would be good."


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Turner said he wants to get in as many players as he can Sunday, including healthy starters. He said this is different than a preseason game because in August there are 80 players on the roster. Now there are 45 who will be active.

"We've got to play, and we do need game-speed reps for our guys," Turner said. "I would like to get all 45 guys good opportunities to play."

The Chargers are expected to hold out a handful of players who have been injured. Among them are outside linebacker Shawne Merriman (foot), fullback Jacob Hester (shoulder), safety Eric Weddle (knee) and wide receiver Legedu Naanee (foot).

Wide receiver Vincent Jackson (Achilles' tendon) was listed as questionable after being limited in practice this week. He'd like to play, if possible.

Notes: The Chargers said enough tickets were sold for the game against the Redskins to avoid a local television blackout. The Chargers received a 24-hour extension because of the holiday week. ... Tickets to the Chargers' divisional-round playoff game are available only to those who buy 2010 season tickets. To buy playoff tickets, fans must make a nonrefundable, $200 deposit per season seat. ... Turner was evasive when asked about a possible contract extension. "I don't know what the time frame is," he said. "That's not an issue for me right now. At some point, we'll sit down and talk about it." General manager A.J. Smith didn't return calls seeking comment.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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