Rivers might be ready to start offseason program

Although his right foot remains in a hard cast and is likely to be immobilized for another month, San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will not require surgery to address an injury he sustained in the 2006 regular-season finale.

Team doctors apprised Rivers late last week that he will not need surgery to repair a Lis Franc sprain. There is a chance that Rivers will be recovered in time for the beginning of the Chargers' offseason program on March 19.

Rivers originally injured his foot in a Dec. 31 game against Arizona and then aggravated it in the Chargers' divisional-round playoff loss to New England on Jan. 14. Rivers told the San Diego Union-Tribune that, had the Chargers defeated the Patriots, he would not have been able to play in the AFC Championship Game the following week, which was confirmed to ESPN.com by a Chargers official and a source close to Rivers.

Rivers remains uncertain of when he aggravated the foot injury against the Patriots, but he is relieved at being able to avoid any surgery. The procedure to remedy a Lis Franc sprain, if needed, is tricky and the rehabilitation stretch can be a lengthy one. Some players who have undergone such surgery have needed a year to fully recover.

"It's something you take slow, a foot injury," Rivers said. "Time off is the best thing for it. But it's going to be fine."

After appearing in just four games in his first two seasons and throwing only 30 passes, Rivers -- acquired from the New York Giants in the 2005 landmark swap of first-round quarterbacks, a deal that also included Eli Manning -- started all 16 game in 2006.

The former North Carolina State standout completed 284-of-460 passes for 3,388 yards, with 22 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. His 92.0 passer efficiency rating was eighth-best in the league and he led San Diego to the best record in the AFC.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.