Why Chargers QB Philip Rivers can play another five years

Philip Rivers is 36, but is playing at a high level, hasn't missed a start in more than a decade and the Chargers are protecting him. Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers will begin organized team activities next week. For this first time this offseason, the offense can go against the defense, which should provide for some interesting matchups at practice.

Tuesday's practice will be open to reporters, so we get a chance to see matchups like second-year pro Mike Williams going against cornerback Casey Hayward and tight end Hunter Henry facing rookie Derwin James, along with how defensive coordinator Gus Bradley begins to put the pieces together with his talented secondary.

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn believes the competition during offseason work should help his team get ready for training camp in two months.

"I thought the pieces were there last year to do something special, and it's no different this year," Lynn told the NFL Network. "And we've added some more guys. I thought we did a heck of a job in bringing in the right people that fit our locker room, in free agency and the draft.

"I'm excited about our football team, but we have to go to work. There's so much parity in this league that you don't know who's going to emerge from year to year. It's all about what team comes together the best during the offseason right now and in training camp, developing that chemistry -- trusting one another, leaning on each other and playing for each other. That's not easy, you have to work at that."

Let's take a look at three questions from this week's mailbag:

@eric_d_williams: Chargers general manager Tom Telesco is likely pumping the brakes on any retirement parties for Philip Rivers in the near future.

Rivers has already said he'd like to play for a few more years, and the Chargers have not drafted a quarterback since 2013. At 36, Rivers is one of 14 starting quarterbacks at 30 years or older.

Of course, Tom Brady leads the list at 40 years old. Drew Brees is 39. Brady has said he believes he can play until he's 45 years old. Like Brady, Rivers relies on playing with anticipation and movement within the pocket to get the job done, so loss of speed isn't an issue.

Unlike Brady, Rivers hasn't missed a start in more than a decade. And the Chargers have done a nice job of protecting him, allowing a league-low 18 sacks last season.

If Rivers continues to get good protection and the Chargers surround him with talented playmakers such as Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon and Hunter Henry, the veteran quarterback can play at a winning level for at least a couple of more years.

Rivers wishes to coach high school football once his playing career is over, but wants to play as long as he physically can. According to quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen, Rivers is all football and has more than enough motivation to continue playing.

"He's obsessed with it," Steichen said. "That's all it is, is football. And I think in his mind it's like, 'Shoot, I've only got so much longer to play this game.' And who knows how much longer he's going to play?

"If he plays for five more years he's like, 'Shoot, gosh dang, I'm going to put all of my energy into it.' You can tell from his rookie year until now, he just doesn't get bored with anything. I mean we can talk about a curl route for three hours, and how we want to run it: 'I want to get back into it. This is the footwork on it.' That's how important it is to him."

@eric.d.williams: This year's roster certainly rivals the 2004 team in terms of talent. Back then, a young Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates led the Chargers on offense.

The Chargers have Rivers, Gordon and Allen.

In 2004, the Chargers had a stingy run defense that included frontline players in nose tackle Jamaal Williams, linebacker Donnie Edwards and cornerback Quentin Jammer.

The Chargers allowed just 17 points per contest last year, No. 3 in the NFL, and return pass-rushers Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, along with Casey Hayward on defense.

The 2004 team was the start of the Chargers reaching the postseason in five of the next six seasons. The 2018 team would like to start a similar run.

@eric_d_williams: A fourth-round selection for the Chargers in the 2017 draft, Rayshawn Jenkins is getting a look at free safety this offseason.

The Chargers like Jenkins' athleticism, speed and physicality. It will be interesting to see how the Miami product's skill set evolves in Jenkins' second season.

Jenkins played 75 defensive snaps last season, finishing with 13 combined tackles in 15 games played. He also finished with 11 tackles on special teams, tied for fourth on the team with Derek Watt.

However, Jenkins did finish with five accepted penalties, all on special teams.

"We've got a lot of options," Chargers defensive backs coach Ron Milus said about the free safety position. "Jahleel (Addae) could go back there. We've got Jaylen (Watkins). We've got Rayshawn, who could also do it. And don't forget about Desmond (King). Desmond is another option, because of his ability to tackle.

"We've got a lot of options. This will be interesting, especially the first five, six practices as we try to figure out it. Nothing's been in stone."