Chargers' trio of stars doesn't practice again

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Chargers injury situation for Sunday's game didn't improve Thursday.

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie (hip), left tackle Marcus McNeill (neck) and running back LaDainian Tomlinson (toe) all did not practice for the second straight day.

While it is still three days until San Diego plays at Denver on Sunday, it is not a good sign that the three standouts did not practice. Usually in the NFL, when players miss an entire week of practice they do not play on the weekend. Tomlinson, however, said Wednesday he would definitely play against the Broncos.

Left tackle Marcus McNeill didn't play against Carolina on Sunday and he was replaced by L.J. Shelton, who will likely sub for McNeill again if the starter can't go against Denver.

Cromartie finished the game against Carolina, but he has not healed very well this week. That could open the door for first-round pick Antoine Cason to start a cornerback in place of the Pro Bowler.

If Cason plays, he'd likely face Denver rookie Eddie Royal, who burnt Oakland cornerback DeAngelo Hall routinely Monday night. If that is the case, Quentin Jammer will likely be on Denver star Brandon Marshall, who will be making his 2008 debut after serving a one-game NFL suspension last week.

Meanwhile, for San Diego, tight end Antonio Gates practiced on a limited basis again Thursday. He is dealing with a hip problem and a nagging left toe injury. Also, center Nick Hardwick practiced on a limited basis for the second day in a row. He's not expected to play for another couple of weeks (foot injury).

Denver did not report any injury status changes today.