SAN DIEGO -- One of the reasons for the San Diego Chargers' struggles last season was that injuries limited the team’s effectiveness as the season wore on, with the Chargers losing 10 of their last 12 games.
A quick look at San Diego’s starting lineup on offense to finish the 2015 season tells you everything you need to know.
The Chargers finished with just four of the team’s 11 projected starters from the beginning of the season, yet still played the Super Bowl champs, the Denver Broncos tough, losing 27-20.
Here’s San Diego’s starting offense at the end of last season:
RB – Donald Brown
QB – Philip Rivers
And here’s San Diego’s starting offense to begin the 2016 season:
RB – Melvin Gordon
QB – Rivers
The Chargers have just one starter listed on the team’s injury report this week, Fluker, who practiced fully with an ankle issue on Wednesday.
So San Diego should be at full strength facing a talented Kansas City defense without the services of elite pass-rusher Justin Houston and linebacker Jeff Mauga.
In a 10-3 loss against Kansas City last season, the Chargers were without the services of six projected starters, including Allen, who did not play in either game against the Chiefs last season.
San Diego scored a total of six points combined in two losses against Kansas City last season.
"Certainly we're a different team than when we went in there last year and played them at home," Rivers said. "We didn’t have Keenan either time. But we scored six points on them last year.
"I believe in our defense, but I believe it’s going to take more than a field goal to win, so we have to certainly play better than we have the last two times we faced them."
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said despite the change in personnel, his defense will be ready.
"I think they’ve made some real nice offseason moves," Reid said about the Chargers. "I know Mike (McCoy), and Mike’s going to use everybody and move people around on both sides of the ball, and special teams. So we’ve got to prepare ourselves for a good, tough football team.
"These games are ridiculous every year -- it comes down to one or two plays here or there -- so you’ve just got to prepare yourself for that."
Reid also noted the return of offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, which should help San Diego on that side of the ball.
"He’s a great football coach," Reid said about Whisenhunt. "I thought he was great head coach, a great position coach. He just can coach. And that’s what he preaches. He’s going to preach execution and toughness. And so when you play his offense, you better be ready. And the head coach isn’t too shabby; he’s pretty good, too."