Norv Turner plays it smart, sits Philip Rivers

Norv Turner made the right call.

Yes, Philip Rivers needs the work to prepare for the regular season but, most importantly, Rivers needs to be upright when the Chargers visit Oakland on Sept. 10 for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

Turner changed course and decided that backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst will start Friday night against Minnesota. This is the pivotal third preseason game. Starters usually play up to three quarters.

However, the Chargers are without starting offensive linemen Nick Hardwick, Jared Gaither and Tyronne Green because of injuries. Having their star quarterback play in a preseason game with 60 percent of his offensive line missing proved to be too risky.

Again, bravo, Norv.

Yes, Rivers will miss the valuable action. Maybe he can play a quarter or so in the preseason finale next Thursday. Early in the regular season, Rivers will find his groove despite missing Friday night’s game. And he will be healthy. His health wasn’t guaranteed if he was thrown into Friday night’s game.

Star San Diego tight end Antonio Gates is also a healthy scratch. Gates has dealt with injuries for the past four years. He looks great this summer. There is no need risking injury now.

In other AFC West news:

Oakland coach Dennis Allen said receiver Jacoby Ford does not have structural damage in his sprained left foot. That is good news for Ford, who missed several games last season due to a similar injury on the same foot.

Chicago reportedly cut backup running back Kahlil Bell. He could perhaps interest the Chargers and Raiders. Both teams have a need at the position.