San Diego Chargers Coach Marty Schottenheimer named Drew Brees the club's starting quarterback for Sunday's regular season opener at Houston, ahead of first-round draft choice Philip Rivers.

Schottenheimer left the competition open through the final preseason game but tipped his hand when he didn't give Rivers any work with the starting offense in the preseason finale. Still, he held off making an announcement until yesterday, saying he saw no need to name a starter before the calendar dictated it.

Brees fell into disfavor with the organization last season, and the Chargers looked to upgrade at the position by obtaining Rivers in a draft-day trade with the New York Giants after the Giants selected him with the draft's fourth overall pick. But Rivers was the final first-round choice in the league to agree to a contract, missing 29 practices of training camp.

Schottenheimer kept four quarterbacks on his season-opening roster, retaining veteran Doug Flutie and youngster Cleo Lemon as well as Brees and Rivers.

* DOLPHINS: Miami appears primed to name quarterback Jay Fiedler the starter ahead of A.J. Feeley, although Coach Dave Wannstedt has not made an official announcement. The Dolphins also appear to be leaning toward having Sammy Morris take over for Ricky Williams as starting tailback.

* RAMS: Tackle Orlando Pace signed a one-year contract with St. Louis and participated in his first practice. Pace has held out the last two years in retaliation for getting the franchise tag, and has been seeking a long-term deal.

His new deal is worth $7.02 million.

* SEAHAWKS: Tackle Walter Jones signed a one-year deal and practiced with Seattle. Designated the team's franchise player, Jones missed camp while he waited for a long-term offer. He has missed most of the previous three training camps, as well.