Derek Cox returns to starting lineup

SAN DIEGO -- Defensive coordinator John Pagano said inconsistent play and failing to make impact plays were two reasons he decided to bench cornerback Derek Cox during the San Diego Chargers’ overtime loss to Washington last week.

“He’s had opportunities,” Pagano said. “We’ve got to go make plays. And he’s got to learn to finish some of those plays. And has he made plays? Yes he has. There’s been many times that you see it. Now, in the back end, those are the plays where you get exposed the most, because it’s usually a long pass play or something where you end up giving up a touchdown where you’re the last line of the defense.

“But overall, I’d probably been a little more disappointed with the consistency from the back end, and not being able to put together complete games.”

Pagano said Cox returned to his customary position as the team’s starting cornerback for Wednesday’s practice.

“It’s about competing,” Pagano said. “It’s about going out there and being competitive, and doing the things you have to do week in and week out. That’s what this business is all about. It’s one of those situations where he handled it well, and we moved on from it.”

Cox said he took the benching in stride, and is focused on improving each week.

“Consistency is the key,” Cox said. “You look at great players and that’s what it boils down to -- they’re consistency week in and week out. And making your plays when the opportunity is there, so I’m right in tune with that mentally, and what I demand of myself.”

Whisenhunt discusses goal-line play calling: Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt talked to reporters on Thursday, and as you can imagine, most of the questions asked were about his curious play-calling at the end of regulation in San Diego’s loss to Washington, when the Chargers failed to score on three straight plays from a yard out.

“When they don't work you are going to be second-guessed on them,” Whisenhunt said. “That is part of this business. If you could tell me I could have back every play that didn't work and I could run it again, sure I would like to do that. Are you kidding me?

“But you can’t do that. You have a plan, you stick to the plan and more times than not for us this year, fortunately, it has worked.”

Whisenhunt said that Ryan Mathews not receiving a carry on any of the three plays at that goal line is not an indication of how he or the rest of the coaching staff feels about the team’s leading rusher.

“I feel great about Ryan,” he said. “There has never been any indication that we haven't felt great about Ryan. Last time I checked he’s the only back in the league this year to have two consecutive 100-yard games. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t feel good about him.

“We have complete confidence in him and in my mind. He is a good football player.”

Whisenhunt said he expected the ball to be spotted closer to the goal line after Danny Woodhead's touchdown was reversed. And had he known the ball would be spotted a half-yard further away, he might have made a different call than what ended up being a first-down run to Woodhead that Philip Rivers audibled to out of a spread formation.

Whisenhunt also said the decision not to go for it on fourth down was Mike McCoy’s call, but he had a play ready if McCoy had changed his mind.

Injury update: Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson was back on the injury report on Thursday. Johnson was a limited participant with a hamstring injury, the same issue that forced him to miss to miss two games earlier this season.

“Something kind of flared up, but we’ll give you an update tomorrow,” McCoy said about Johnson.

Offensive lineman Chad Rinehart (toe) was a limited participant for a second straight day.

Defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe) offensive lineman Mike Remmers (ankle) and receiver Eddie Royal (toe) did not practice.

Linebacker Donald Butler (groin) and punter Mike Scifres (knee) were full participants.