Philadelphia's new-look secondary can expect a tall challenge Sunday in San Diego receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd, both of whom stand at 6-foot-5, and Legedu Naanee, who is 6-2.
"Their receivers are like small forwards," said cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who replaces Joselio Hanson as the nickel corner this week. "They're a vertical team, they like to throw the ball. They have a lot of faith in No. 83, Vincent Jackson."
Jackson has been Philip Rivers' big-play target and one of the hottest receivers in the league. He is tied for the NFL lead with seven touchdown catches. He also has the third-most receiving yards in the NFL (722), and his 17.2 yards per catch average is tops among all receivers with at least 30 catches this season.
"It seems like every week he gets better and better," Rivers said in a conference call this week. "We've always thought highly of him, but I think he's starting to get some recognition on the outside as one of the top receivers around. He's as big and as fast and as strong as they make them.
"He continues to come up big each and every week for us. We really have a great feel for one another out there on the field. I think it's paid off."
Jackson finished the first half of the season with four 100-yard games, tied with New England's Randy Moss and Houston's Andre Johnson for the most in the NFL. He uses his quickness and athletic ability to get away from press coverage and can be a nightmare for even the healthiest of secondaries.
Minus veteran Ellis Hobbs and Hanson, the backend of the Eagles defense will feature Patterson playing nickel and second-year corner Jack Ikegwuonu, a fourth-round pick in 2008, as the team's fourth corner in his first pro game.
Ikegwuonu has studied plenty of film this week and knows what to expect.
"Philip likes to throw it up there and he's really confident in those guys that they're going to bring the ball down," Ikegwuonu said. "So, what you really have to do is be disciplined in whatever coverage it is, know where your help is, and keep your leverage."
Chargers head coach Norv Turner is aware of the changes in the secondary, but still expects Philadelphia's 10th-ranked defense to give his team all it can handle.
"Obviously, this game is about matchups and personnel - who's playing and how they're playing. But I don't think they're going to change what they do," Turner said via conference call.
Cornerback Sheldon Brown, who is second on the team with four interceptions, says the key will be the pass rush.
"It's always a challenge (against big receivers), but you can eliminate a lot of stuff if your guys up front get pressure," Brown said. "That's the game."
The Eagles have 14 different players with at least a sack and their pass defense ranks 11th in the league, allowing an average of 204.8 yards per game.
"They are explosive down the field," said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. "They have some tall receivers that like to play above the rim, so to speak. It's important that we attack the football when it's in the air. It's important that we go up with them and challenge for the ball."
-- Posted by Bob Kent, 8:05 p.m., November 14