Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) walks off the field in the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. Detroit won 13-10. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) signals after Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) was held short of the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws in the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
CARSON, Calif. (AP) In a week in which one of his 2004 draft classmates suffered a season-ending elbow injury and the other was benched, Philip Rivers continues to be old reliable for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Rivers will make his 209th consecutive start on Sunday when the Chargers host the Houston Texans in a key early season matchup. That ties him with Eli Manning for the second-longest QB starting streak in NFL history.
Manning, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft, was benched this week by the Giants for rookie Daniel Jones and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the No. 11 overall selection, will miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury.
''I don't think you ever take it for granted, no question. I think even more-so now, you just realize that it doesn't last forever,'' Rivers said.
Longevity though is not what Rivers is focusing on this week. It is trying to bounce back from a disappointing 13-10 loss at Detroit where the Chargers' hope for a comeback ended when he threw an interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.
The pick capped a day that saw the Chargers have two touchdowns called back because of penalties, two missed field goals and a turnover in the red zone. The loss leaves LA at 1-1 and facing a fellow playoff participant from last season.
''I think that we've shown the ability to bounce back over the years when we've lost some tough ones,'' Rivers said. ''Usually, you never take any satisfaction in losing, obviously, but most of our losses are going to be tough ones - at least I hope.''
Rivers is very much a pocket passer who is not fleet of foot, Deshaun Watson is the opposite. The third-year quarterback is two touchdown passes away from 50 in his career and needs 35 rushing yards to become the seventh QB in NFL history with 900 yards or more in his first 26 games.
While the Chargers are coming off a close loss, the Texans survived a missed 2-point conversion to beat Jacksonville 13-12.
''Everyone is making sure that as far as I go, the offense goes and the whole team goes,'' Watson said. ''It just kind of grows on itself and the more I play, the more reps I get, the more games I start as a quarterback here, the more it grows.''
Here is what else to watch for during Sunday's game:
STILL RUNNING WELL
There hasn't been any decline in the Chargers' running game despite Melvin Gordon's holdout. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson have combined to average 5.7 yards per carry.
Ekeler leads the AFC in scrimmage yards (287) and is tied for sixth in the league in offensive touches (46). However, he did fumble near the goal line in last Sunday's 13-10 loss to Detroit.
Jackson has been a nice change-of-pace back with seven of his 13 carries going for 10 yards or more.
Houston outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week this week after he had two sacks, forced two fumbles and had two quarterback hits in a win over the Jaguars last Sunday. His second strip sack was recovered by J.J. Watt and the Texans scored their only touchdown of the game four plays later. Mercilus is the only player in the NFL to force more than one fumble this season.
It was his second straight big game this season after he had a sack, an interception, five tackles, including one for a loss and a quarterback hit in Houston's opener.
''Whitney has been a very productive player for us over the years,'' coach Bill O'Brien said. ''He's been a guy that really is just known for doing his job. He just does a good job of setting the edge in the running game and then rushing the passer.''
Running backs Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson have filled in nicely in the first two games after Lamar Miller, who was Houston's featured back for the past three seasons, sustained a season-ending knee injury in a preseason game. The duo has helped the Texans average 153 yards rushing a game, which ranks fifth in the NFL. Hyde has carried a bigger load than Johnson so far and he is fifth in the league with 173 yards rushing.
Their success is impressive considering that neither player started camp with the team. Johnson came to Houston in a trade with Cleveland on Aug. 9 and Hyde joined the Texans on Aug. 31 in a deal with Kansas City.
PASS RUSHERS ON PARADE
The game will feature three of the top pass rushers in the AFC. Houston's J.J. Watt is still looking for his first sack this season and has never taken down Rivers.
Los Angeles' Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram have combined for two sacks, both coming in the opener against Indianapolis.
The Chargers are hoping to get placekicker Michael Badgley back after he has missed two games because of a groin injury. Ty Long has handled both kicking and punting duties, but missed a pair of field-goal attempts last week.
The Texans have brought back punter Bryan Anger after Trevor Daniel struggled.
Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota will be replaced by backup Ryan Tannehill Sunday, Oct. 20, for the Week 7 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.
Fantasy Spin: Mariota should be kept in dynasty leagues, as the former No. 2 overall pick will surely get a look elsewhere is the Titans choose to part ways, but his time in Tennessee appears to be done. He can be dropped in all redraft formats and all but the deepest of keeper leagues.
New York Jets DB Bennett Jackson was signed by the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Philadelphia Eagles CB Jalen Mills (hamstring) returned to practice Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill was informed Tuesday, Oct. 15, he'll get the Week 7 start against the Los Angeles Chargers, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.
Fantasy Spin: Tannehill becomes nothing more than a low-end QB2 even in an adequate matchup. He can be scooped up in deeper two-quarterback leagues, but he shouldn't be started this week unless there are no other available options.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Dare Ogunbowale led the backfield with 46 offensive snaps played in the Week 6 matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Peyton Barber played 19 snaps and Ronald Jones saw just 13.
Fantasy Spin: Ogunbowale was rarely used when on the field, rushing just once for a three-yard touchdown while catching three of five passes for 22 yards. The Bucs trailed by large amounts for much of the game so this one-game sample shouldn't be worth much. Jones remains the most appealing of the three.
Pittsburgh Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt (pectoral) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday, Oct. 15, in exchange for a 2020 first-round draft pick, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick, the Jaguars announced.
New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara (ankle) is dealing with a high-ankle type issue that will limit him in practice through the week, a source told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero Tuesday, Oct. 15. Kamara believes he still has a shot to play against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Oct. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Latavius Murray becomes a hot commodity on waiver wires wherever he's available. He doesn't possess Kamara-level abilities in the passing game, but he'll see the necessary volume on the ground even in a difficult matchup. Dwayne Washington is the only other RB on the roster.
Baltimore Ravens CB Marcus Peters will make his debut with the team Sunday, Oct. 20, against the Seattle Seahawks, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock (thumb), RB Theo Riddick (shoulder), TE Jake Butt (knee) and WR Tim Patrick (hand) are likely to return to practice next week, according to Mike Klis of 9News Tuesday, Oct. 15. Only two of the four will be able to be activated at that time.
Washington Redskins QB Alex Smith (leg) was spotted on the practice field Monday, Oct. 14, by Ben Standig of The Athletic. Smith is 11 months removed from the leg injury which ended his 2018 season and threatens his career. The veteran was throwing a variety of routes with two team officials and was later seen with a compression sleeve on his leg.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers DE Jason Pierre-Paul (neck) participated in practice Tuesday, Oct. 15, opening the 21-day window for him to be activated to the 53-man roster. Pierre-Paul has spent all season on the Non-Football Injury list following an offseason car accident.
Denver Broncos CB Bryce Callahan (foot) was listed as a non-participant in practice Tuesday, Oct. 15, while CB Duke Dawson (foot), OT Ja'Wuan James (knee) and DE Derek Wolfe (hip) were limited. DE Shelby Harris (ribs), OG Ronald Leary (shoulder), NT Mike Purcell (knee), WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee) and S Will Parks (wrist) were listed as full participants. All of Tuesday's listings were estimates, as Denver held a walk-through as opposed to a formal practice.
Kansas City Chiefs OT Eric Fisher (groin), CB Kendall Fuller (thumb), DT Chris Jones (groin) and OG Andrew Wylie (ankle) did not practice Tuesday, Oct. 15. WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) was limited. OT Cameron Erving (groin), LB Anthony Hitchens (groin), DT Derrick Nnadi (elbow), LB Dorian O'Daniel (hamstring), OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle), WR Tyreek Hill (shoulder), QB Patrick Mahomes (ankle) and FB Anthony Sherman (shoulder) fully participated in practice.
New England Patriots QB Cody Kessler was released Tuesday, Oct. 15.
New Orleans Saints CB P.J. Williams was suspended for two games on Tuesday, Oct. 15, for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He is eligible to return in Week 8 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Washington Redskins TE Jerome Cunningham (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 15. FB Michael Burton was signed to fill his spot on the roster.
Los Angeles Rams CB Marcus Peters was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for LB Kenny Young and an undisclosed 2020 draft pick on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Free-agent RB Josh Ferguson worked out for the Washington Redskins on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Washington Redskins RB Chris Thompson (toe) was diagnosed with a mild case of turf toe and his availability for Week 7 is 'in some doubt,' according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Fantasy Spin: It couldn't be much worse timing for fantasy owners or the Redskins, as they are about ready to start a three-game stretch leading into the team's Week 10 in which Thompson figured to be quite busy. Wendell Smallwood is the most likely candidate to pick up the majority of snaps in the passing game if Thompson can't go, and he would be worth a flex play for however long Thompson needs to recover if that ends up being the case.