For the first time this season, the starting status of San Diego Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf remained in question as coach Kevin Gilbride on Monday put off a decision on the prized rookie.
Gilbride said a choice between Leaf, the No. 2 pick in this year's draft, and reserve quarterback Craig Whelihan will be made by Wednesday. The Chargers play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in San Diego.
Leaf had three interceptions last Sunday before he was pulled in the third quarter in favor of Whelihan. San Diego lost 7-6 to the Oakland Raiders, who scored with 1:28 left to hand the Chargers (2-4) their fourth straight loss.
Leaf has thrown 12 interceptions and lost three fumbles this season.
"We certainly have to get better play from the quarterback position," Gilbride said. "It's a problem now figuring how to do that. We're just trying to see who gives us the best chance to win."
Leaf was 7-of-18 for 78 yards against the Raiders while the Chargers settled for two field goals. There have been only five San Diego touchdwns this season, two on passes by Leaf and Whelihan.
"I thought we'd be more effective throwing the ball, I really did," Gilbride said. "There's no reason for us not to be. There were a couple of chances (Sunday) for big plays and that's all that game was looking for."
Gilbride said part of the decision of whom will start Sunday rests on whether Leaf will gain from learning the game in a backup role.
But the rookie expressed little benefit from being sidelined.
"You get enough mental repetitions as it is," Leaf said. "But you have to feel it coming at you, making the reads and learning to make the throws. You don't learn by watching someone else do it. But it's not my decision to make."
| Leaf may not be up to the task just yet. (AP) |
"I'm just going to prepare like I'm starter until I hear otherwise," Leaf said. "Then whatever the coach's decision, that's the way we'll go."
Whelihan lost all seven of his starts to end last season in place of Stan Humphries, who was sidelined with a career-ending concussion. This season, Whelihan is 9-of-21 for 116 yards.
Gilbride dismissed any suggestion that his players have lost confidence in his coaching. Before last Sunday's game, an ESPN report said the status of the second-year coach was in jeopardy.
"I think they're all questioning everything. I don't think there's anyone who looks at me and says, `He's not doing his job,"' Gilbride said. "But when you're not going well, human nature looks at everything. I think there's a disappointment that pervades, causing everyone to examine everything else."
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