SAN DIEGO - Philip Rivers was the fourth pick of the 2004 NFL draft, taken by the San Diego Chargers. Bradlee Van Pelt was selected by the Denver Broncos 246 spots later. On Saturday they were in the same predicament, as inexperienced backup quarterbacks struggling to move their team in the second half. Van Pelt completed only two passes for 7 yards despite playing the entire half. Rivers completed 12 of 22 passes for 115 yards after he replaced injured starter Drew Brees in the second quarter, but made plenty of what he called “silly mistakes.” San Diego was shut out in the second half. Rivers has an uncertain future. He might be traded in the offseason and given the chance to start for another team. The Chargers might keep him if Brees’ injury is serious. Brees dislocated his right throwing shoulder and might have damaged his labrum. Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said Brees might have to undergo surgery. Van Pelt, who hadn’t attempted a pass in his career before Saturday, showed he has a long way to go. “He’s going to get his chance and it’s a different situation,” Van Pelt said of Rivers. “I know he’s in a good circumstance, whatever happens to him. I’m concerned for myself and my football team. I got to get better as a backup so if I’m ever called upon I have to perform.” Van Pelt’s first two passes were dropped by Chargers linebackers and a third pass almost was intercepted in the end zone. Van Pelt rushed for 41 yards and kept some drives going. “I’d be lying to say I was satisfied with my performance,” Van Pelt said. “Getting out there, you kind of realize now how to get better and what to get better at.” Rivers, who also hadn’t attempted a pass this season, also had some tough moments. He misfired on passes to open receivers, had a key fumble in the end zone that led to a Denver safety and threw an interception to Broncos cornerback Curome Cox in the fourth quarter. At the end of that play Rivers tackled Cox and then ripped off his helmet, picking up a 15-yard personal foul penalty. “He played about the way I would’ve thought,” Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said. “You talk about a baptism, your first start in this league, and well, they bring the ranch. They blitz you and blitz you and it paid dividends for them.” “He’s still a little green,” Broncos defensive tackle Gerard Warren said of Rivers. “He’s a little skittish in the pocket. He’s got a few things he can work on, but you can credit that to a lack of playing time. But he’s going to be a good one, I think.” Van Pelt said he and Rivers chatted before the game. Neither knew he would play the entire second half. Van Pelt wasn’t told when he would relieve Jake Plummer and Rivers wasn’t supposed to play. “We haven’t played much in our short careers,” Van Pelt said. “He went in there and did very well. I’d say he played a lot better than I did.”
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