Something has gotta give on Thursday Night Football. The Oakland Raiders come into San Diego with a two-game losing streak while the Chargers have a three game losing skid of their own to snap. With identical 4-4 records at the halfway point of their respective seasons, Oakland and San Diego are in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West along with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders defense is 29th in the NFL in stopping the run this season. Mike Tolbert loves the sound of that. The undrafted free agent in 2008, who is a converted fullback is the team’s most trusted ball carrier. No.35 will look to get the Chargers back on the winning track with a big game on the ground.
Mike Tolbert joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Darren Smith to discuss having a short week to prepare for the Oakland Raiders before their Thursday Night Football matchup, whether he’s surprised the Chargers are in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West at this stage in the season, the Oakland Raiders struggling to stop the run this season, the Chargers being bitter about the Raiders sweeping the season series last year, the idea of hating the Oakland Raiders more than any other team in the NFL, and the mood in the Chargers locker room during this three-game losing streak.
How different is this week than any other week in the NFL when you play on a Thursday night?
“Oh man it is tough. You come off a long game on Sunday and then you have two-three days to get healthy and try to come back on Thursday and put another good game together. Your body is a little sore and it takes time and knowledge to know how to get your body back right, but we are working hard at it.”
How surprised are you that there is a three-way tie in the AFC West between yourselves, Oakland and Kansas City?
“Not too surprised. The AFC West is full of talent. Teams that are not really getting the job done like they are suppose to. Kansas City is a good team. Oakland is a good team. Denver is doing better now. We are a good team, so I am surprised it is a three-way tie, but at the same time it is not a surprise that those three teams are at the top.”
Why are so many teams having success running against the Oakland Raiders?
“Man I really don’t know. Their backers are flowing. They have some key injuries on the defense . Their starting linebacker, Rolando McClain, has been hurt with an ankle and one of their safeties has been hurt with an ankle. Guys have been nicked up on the defense. That’s why I think people have been able to run against them, but they also can play some good offense. They can run the ball like Kansas City and Houston – guys like that – that can run the ball. We definitely looking forward to going out and trying to run the ball, but we got some other things we put in that we think would be good.”
The Oakland Raiders swept the entire division last year. How much of that is still stuck in your guys memory?
“Oh man it definitely leaves a bitter taste in our mouths. We’re use to a certain standard around here and we want to win. Winning is something we are use to and accustom to – to be swept by the same team – it leaves a bitter taste. You gotta try to get some revenge off of that.”
If you polled the Chargers fans they would say they hate the Raiders the most. Is that the same feeling in the Chargers locker room?
“Yeah I think it is. I am not going to say dislike, but I think there is some negative feelings towards the Oakland Raiders at times. They are known for being a hard nosed, ‘Go Get ‘Em’ attitude type of team. We pride ourselves on playing physical football. It obviously is going to be a big game.”
Three straight loses. What is the mood in the locker room and what do you do to get out of this funk?
“I think the moral is pretty good. The guys on our team we know where we could be if we execute and do the things we need to do. I think the morale is pretty good around the locker room and nobody is hanging their head. We still got half a season left and a lot of games to play. If we went out and be 12-4 and number two seed in the AFC or you never know what might happen with it. We are just going to keep playing football and see how it turns out.”