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Original Issue

Happy Days for McCardell


For the last four months, says Chargers wide receiver Keenan McCardell, he's been waiting for this chance. Or more specifically, chances like those he had on Sunday in San Diego's 42--14 romp over the visiting Raiders. "I just wanted to be in a place where I could make a difference," said McCardell, after catching four passes for 55 yards and a touchdown in his second game as a Charger. "Being here with a quarterback like Drew [Brees] and how this offense is playing? I'm just happy, man. Just happy."

Because of a bitter holdout in Tampa Bay, McCardell had been prepared to sit the season out. But hours before the Oct. 19 trade deadline, San Diego--a surprising contender in need of a receiver, especially after losing wideout Reche Caldwell to a right knee injury two days earlier--sent the Bucs its third- and sixth-round draft picks in 2005 for McCardell.

In the 34-year-old McCardell, the Chargers get a tough, meticulous veteran who, says general manager A.J. Smith, "still plays the game young." As the Bucs' primary target last season he snagged 84 passes for 1,174 yards and eight touchdowns. But in San Diego, McCardell is just one of the many threats at Brees's disposal. "He's a professional, he's picking up our offense really quickly and he's dependable," said Brees, after completing 22 of 25 passes for 281 yards and five touchdowns against Oakland. "Knowing he's out there makes my job easier." --Josh Elliott