Gates and Merriman are moving well

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

SAN DIEGO -- Game time is approaching and the stadium is filling on a postcard day from one of the world's nicest cities.

While the Chargers are going to be without injured offensive linemen Nick Hardwick and Marcus McNeill, they will have tight end Antonio Gates and linebacker Shawne Merriman. Both players are in uniform and are stretching.

Gates has been moving very fluidly. This will be his first game action since having offseason surgery on his left big toe. Gates has said he is unaware how the toe will react on game day.

Merriman is also moving well despite a left knee issue. Merriman is ignoring medical advice to have season-ending surgery. Merriman is playing because he says his team is ready to win a Super Bowl.

Appreciative Chargers fans have been giving him ovations over the past hour

One last thought: If Carolina had suspended receiver Steve Smith, it could be a different game because of San Diego's injuries.