Pagano: Chargers have to be smart facing Arizona

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- San Diego defensive coordinator John Pagano knows to expect a chess match when his Chargers face the Arizona Cardinals next Monday.

Not only do the Cardinals have players like Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, but they attack defenses with creative bunch and stack formations, constantly seeking an edge.

"They are always looking for some kind of a mismatch," Pagano said, "like trying to get a linebacker on a wide receiver. You have to be very smart and then it comes down to techniques and fundamentals. It's our job to get them in position to make plays."

The Cardinals scored 129 more points last year under new coach Bruce Arians than in 2012. They finished the season with the league's 12th-ranked offense after being last the season before.

"It's a very explosive team," Pagano said. "We've got a big challenge ahead of us."

Monday will also bring a reunion for Pagano and Arians.

The Cardinals coach and Pagano were with the New Orleans Saints in 1996 and the Indianapolis Colts from 1998 to 2000.

And it was Arians who replaced an ailing Chuck Pagano, John's brother, for 12 games in the 2012 season as the Colts' interim head coach.

"He (Arians) showed me the ropes when I first came into the league," John Pagano said. "Then to have the opportunity to be with him in Indianapolis, those years were awesome. He is such a great coach."

Notes: C Nick Hardwick didn't practice Thursday but coach Mike McCoy said his absence wasn't injury-related. ... Others not working were safety Jahleel Addae (hamstring) and cornerback Chris Davis (ankle).

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