Locker Room Buzz: San Diego Chargers

SAN DIEGO -- Observed in the locker room after the San Diego Chargers' 28-20 loss to the Denver Broncos.

We can play with them: Several players said one takeaway from Sunday’s game is that the Chargers proved they can play with one of the best teams in the NFL. San Diego’s defense held the league’s top-scoring offense scoreless for the final 26 minutes of the contest. And down 28-6 in the second half, Philip Rivers led the Chargers on two second-half touchdown drives to close the deficit to within a score. “We can play with those guys any day of the week,” Chargers receiver Keenan Allen said. “It just came down to not executing in the first half. But we came out, corrected our stuff and made the game a game.”

O-line shuffled: For the second time in three games, the Chargers were down to their final active offensive lineman due to injury. Coach Mike McCoy chose to activate just seven offensive linemen for Sunday’s game, even though two games ago against Jacksonville the Chargers had to use all eight active offensive linemen because of injuries suffered during the game. Against the Broncos, left tackle King Dunlap suffered his third concussion of the season and center Nick Hardwick suffered a neck stinger. Rich Ohrnberger replaced Hardwick at center, and D.J. Fluker moved from right tackle to fill in for Dunlap at left tackle. Jeromey Clary bumped from right guard to right tackle, and Chad Rinehart entered the game to play right guard. If another San Diego offensive lineman had suffered an injury, tight end John Phillips likely would have been the next man up. “If you could have told me that two of them were going to go down, I would have done something different,” McCoy said. “But I think for the football team, the roster that we had, the injuries that we had and the guys who were not playing, I think it was the best thing for us to do.”

Butler’s back: After missing three games with a groin injury, inside linebacker Donald Butler made an impact in his first game back. He finished with seven tackles, a fumble recovery and nearly an interception, providing some stability and playmaking ability from the middle of San Diego’s defense. Butler said he made it through the game without any issues. “I feel great,” Butler said. “After missing three weeks, it felt really good to get back out there with the guys.”