Tag:LaDainian Tomlinson
Posted on: February 5, 2010 8:35 am

Forward-looking thoughts on Tomlinson

With the news that San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson believing that he won't be back in a Chargers uniform next season, it's time to re-evaluate him and what his options are.

Let's begin with an assessment that many people who I've spoken with this week agree on: Tomlinson simply is not the same running back that he once was. Can he still digest a playbook, catch a pass, set a block and find the end zone? No doubt. Can he run? Not with as much consistency as he could as little as three years ago. Does he still have breakaway speed? If he does, he hasn't shown it lately. The overriding belief is that Tomlinson can still be an effective back, but not for nearly the amount of work he'd like. He is -- at best -- a tandem-situation running back.

So, who could use a split-time rusher with a wealth of experience? Lots of teams, but you can be sure that Tomlinson won't chase dollar Bills like Terrell Owens did last year and sign with a team with little chance of making the postseason. Tomlinson, like most other players, wants a championship. He'll want to play somewhere where that can happen.

With those parameters in place, here are some candidates for Tomlinson upon his release from San Diego (in alphabetical order):

Houston: They're on the brink of competing for at least a wild card berth, and they'd have to win every game possible just to have a shot at breaking the Colts' hammerlock at the top of the division (beating them sure would help). Tomlinson has the skill set to be successful in Houston, and he's a Texas native to boot.

New England: Bill Belichick loves veterans looking for a final shot at glory, and there's no doubt that he has profound respect for Tomlinson. Whether or not he has respect for Tomlinson's skills is another story altogether, not to mention having the space amid a crowded running back corps for him.

Philadelphia: If Brian Westbrook is headed the way of Isaac Bruce and Kurt Warner, then Tomlinson would be a neat one-year insurance policy in case LeSean McCoy can't pick up the slack. True, this would be a nightmare for Fantasy owners who are waiting for McCoy to pop in 2010 but the Eagles weren't shy about using three backs last season and could easily do it again. Like in Houston, Tomlinson has the right skill set for the Eagles.

Pittsburgh: Tomlinson wouldn't have much of a chance to start with the Steelers, but being a 10-carry-per-game guy behind Rashard Mendenhall would be a nice fit for him. He'd be a heck of an upgrade over Willie Parker.

There are other spots too -- Cleveland, Detroit, Seattle -- that could be interested in Tomlinson, but they're not playoff contenders.

And there's one last place where L.T. could be wanted -- maybe -- and that's San Diego. Norv Turner was mum on the L.T. topic with me when I asked him about it last week, but Tomlinson is the one saying he'll refuse a pay cut. It's not a case of the team saying "get outta here." If Tomlinson did an about face and accepted an, ahem, salary correction, then he'd probably get a chance to stay and maybe even get 250 touches. And last I checked, the Chargers were a playoff contender.

Seems like a great fit to me.

Posted on: January 27, 2010 4:32 pm

Norv won't speculate on L.T.

I've done my fair share of speculating on LaDainian Tomlinson over the last two seasons. The Chargers' rushing legend and future Hall of Famer is no longer the one-man Fantasy wrecking crew he once was. Sure, he was a touchdown magnet in 2009 but his rushing yardage -- along with his workload -- has dwindled.

So when I had the chance to ask Chargers head coach Norv Turner about Tomlinson after Pro Bowl practice on Wednesday, I jumped on it.

After asking him about free-agent-to-be Vincent Jackson ("We want Vincent on our team for a long time.") and tight end Antonio Gates ("He was the healthiest he's been since he hurt his toe in the playoffs two years ago."), I simply asked Turner what he'd like to see happen with Tomlinson this offseason.

"Well, that's a hard question," Turner said. "The best thing our organization does is step back and wait three or four weeks. We have a lot of meetings we're going to go through, and we're going to evaluate everything about our football team. There are some tough decisions we have to make."

I found it odd that he didn't mention Tomlinson by name, nor did he say rhetoric about L.T. being under contract heading into the offseason. He just talked about "tough decisions."

Tomlinson is technically under contract for two more years: $3 million in 2010 and over $6 million in 2011, according to the NFL Players Association. He also has a $2 million roster bonus due in March. It's not entirely out of the question to think the Chargers won't keep him in 2010, but keep in mind that San Diego also has to formulate a plan for what they want to do with Sproles as the speedster is a free agent come March 1.

Perhaps the Chargers can't find a place for Tomlinson until they get the situation with Sproles figured out first. Or, they already know what the future holds for Tomlinson there and it isn't amicable.

Either way, Turner's lips are sealed.

Posted on: March 12, 2009 1:10 pm

L.T. speaks, we listen

Recently, the Chargers and running back LaDainian Tomlinson agreed to terms on a restructured three-year deal that will keep the Fantasy star in San Diego this season. And while it sure appears that Tomlinson will lose some carries to teammate Darren Sproles this year, Tomlinson said some interesting things to the media when he met with them on March 11 to discuss the new contract and his future with the club.

We should also mention here that Tomlinson will be 30 when the 2009 season kicks off. We've done research on running backs that state that a running back typically begins to decline not when they hit 30, but when they hit several "red flags:" Eight full seasons of football and around 2,500 carries. Minor injuries also are a sign that a player is beginning to struggle. Tomlinson meets all of these red flags, and considering his three injuries over the last year or so (sprained MCL, sore toe, torn groin), it's not a lock that Tomlinson will be back to his usual 1,700-total-yard, 10-plus touchdown self.

But he'll tell you otherwise. Here are some highlights from his press conference:

How tough has this whole process been?

"It was kind of tough, I think more so for my family because I had to answer their questions a lot of the time.  Any time something went across the screen I had to answer their questions, but I still maintained the belief that I would remain a Charger.  They drafted me here.  I've been here for eight years and loved every minute of it.  I just couldn't see myself putting on another uniform.  That Charger uniform, that 21 with the bolt on the side of my helmet, that's pretty special.  You really can't replace that.  I'm just happy to be putting that helmet on again."

Do you feel appreciated by the Chargers after this process?

"Absolutely.  It's a two-way street.  We've always said that this is the part you don't like, the business part of it.  Obviously A.J. (Smith) has been criticized as well as myself about some of the things that we both have gone through, but that's a part of the business.  I hold no hard feelings to anyone.  I respect A.J. for the job he has done, the job he's continuing to do for this team and I'm going to try to do the best job I can for this team on the field.  That's the way we're going to handle it.  When we win a championship, everybody is going to be happy."

Is there anything in this deal that assures us we won't be going through a similar scenario a year from now?

"Let's just worry about this year.  This is something that obviously you deal with sometimes, but I don't think it will be.  That's not something that I'm worried about.  I don't believe this is something we'll be going through next year."

If you're healthy, how close can you be to the LT we've seen the last eight years?

"I think I will continue to be a very explosive player.  You guys saw me last year where I was banged up all year, played with a hurt toe and obviously with the groin injury.  I'll be back to full strength and to being the LT that you guys are used to seeing."

Can you remain as explosive as you were in 2006?

"Absolutely, with the opportunities.  That was a special year, no doubt.  Will I rush for 1,800 yards again?  Who knows.  I think it's possible, definitely.  That's yet to be seen.  I think with the same opportunities, it can happen."

Do you think you have to prove you can stay healthy through a full season and postseason?

"Absolutely.  I feel like I do have to prove I can stay healthy. I've always felt like I needed to prove something.  When I first came into the league, I wanted to prove that I could play in this league and that I could be dominant.  I know I can do that.  Going on 30 (years old), I want to prove that I can stay healthy a full season and still be that dominant player.  Honestly, I haven't had any serious injuries with surgeries.  I don't see why I can't continue to be a dominant player."

Did you feel like you were shortchanged last year when people wrote things about your decline when you were actually battling injuries?

"No, you play the hand you're dealt.  For me, it's good because I get to prove what I'm worth again.  I get to prove to people, and that's the way it's always been for me.  I've always enjoyed doing that.  I get to do it once again."

How do you feel physically right now?

"I feel great physically.  I've started back working out.  This week was the first week where I've actually starting cutting and all kinds of things.  It feels really good.  It's really good to be feeling strong again."

Is there something you can do during the offseason to help prevent injuries?

"I think you become smarter.  You learn how to work in a different way.  You still maintain working hard, but you do it in a different way.  Not as much pounding in the offseason, kind of save myself a little more for the season and gearing up for training camp and going through the season.  Before, I used to start off just going 100 miles per hour, and sometimes it wore me down.  I was in such good shape when I got to training camp that I really had nothing to work for.  Obviously I think some of that will change, but most of it is going to stay the same."

Can you talk about your recent comments about Emmitt Smith's career rushing record and why for the first time you discussed making a run at him?

"I think that's something that I've just kind of got a new fire of saying, ‘Why not?'  If we're winning and winning championships, I do want to play as long as I can and walk away with all the records.  That would be a heck of a challenge and I'm up for challenges.  I'm certainly going to try to do it."

Now that the contract negotiations are done, when do you start negotiations with Norv Turner about returning the halfback option?

"We just got through talking about that to be honest with you.  Norv has told me that, I don't want to give it away to all the teams out there, but you'd better watch out.  It's going to be in."

Pretty significant stuff in there. Let's discuss below ...


Posted on: September 23, 2008 9:17 am

LT running in slo-mo because of sore toe?

I got a good look at LaDainian Tomlinson running the ball last night against the Jets, and I didn't like what I saw.

I don't know if his toe is the problem, or if his age is the problem, but Tomlinson simply isn't the same back we've come to lean on in Fantasy Football. In fact, I'm not even sure if he's a No. 1 Fantasy RB anymore.

What I am about to say is going to make you groan and cringe: Last night, Tomlinson reminded me of Shaun Alexander, circa 2007.

Ugh, I feel dirty just TYPING that.

I'm a big fan of Tomlinson, especially since he's such a big part of Fantasy Football. Like all the other big name offensive NFL players, someone in every single league relies on LT each week, so it's in everyone's best interests that he plays well.

But in Week 3, with the national spotlight on him, Tomlinson's electric moves and trademark acceleration were replaced by a seemingly magnetic draw to Jets defenders on every single carry he had. Shaun Alexander and Cedric Benson were two rushers who had that last year, and they're both out of the league now. It's not surprising at all that Tomlinson's longest run of the game -- on 26 carries -- was five yards. The two touchdowns were both short-yardage jobbers where all he had to do was dive. It was painful to watch.

Worse yet, there were times when San Diego ran the ball, and I did see that trademark speed. "Oh, there he is," I thought. But every single time, it was Darren Sproles.

After the game, Tomlinson pinned his shaky yardage on his sprained right big toe.

"Today was going to be one of those physical running days," Tomlinson said. "Making one cut and going straight ahead is not a problem for me."

He added that he was happy with how his toe felt after the game.

"I think I'm pretty close. If my toe feels like it does now, I think I'll practice for the full week this week," he said.

So the bottom line is that Tomlinson feels his toe is holding him back. For now, we have no choice but to take his word for it. And for the sake of the millions of people who start Tomlinson in their Fantasy leagues week in and week out, I hope he's right.
Posted on: January 22, 2008 11:12 am

Fantasy rankings update: Eli up, Rivers slides

We've altered our Fantasy Football rankings. You can check out our positional rankings here and our Top 200 list here.

Here are the highlighted changes:

New No. 1 at tight end. Jason Witten jumped Antonio Gates, but it's a very close call. In fact, we've had some serious debate over who should be No. 1 at tight end between these two and Kellen Winslow. I like Gates, personally, and would take him over Witten and Winslow in every draft. Gates is effectively the No. 1 receiver on the Chargers while Witten and Winslow are No. 2s. Gates is also a huge red-zone target that racks up the touchdowns; the others aren't as reliable down there. My esteemed co-worker Jamey Eisenberg would take Winslow first, citing his offense. So, naturally, we put a guy NEITHER of us would take first as our No. 1.

Philip Rivers down. The guy has a torn ACL, usually a nine-month rehab process. I doubt he'll have a chance at being close to 100 percent by training camp, which is nearly six months from today, by the way. Figure Rivers to be ineffective until October -- which makes him a No. 2 Fantasy passer.

Eli Manning up. The guy has played well in the playoffs thanks not only to improved play from his receiving corps (Plax is playing big) but also because of improved decision making. He seemingly gained confidence in that loss to the Patriots in Week 17, and it's propelled him to playing in the Super Bowl. And, it's trickled down to the rest of the Giants. He should carry it into next year. Plus, I really like his receiving corps at 100 percent.

Lions changes: Calvin Johnson, Shaun McDonald down, T.J. Duckett up. The Lions' offense is expected to be more run oriented next year, which means that Johnson and McDonald -- especially McDonald -- won't be stat mongers next year. In the case of Johnson, his value could go up if Detroit parts ways with Roy Williams, which is under consideration since he'll be a FA after 2008. Duckett is a free agent and may start 2008 as the Lions' starting RB if he re-signs (which he will since he won't start, or get paid, anywhere else).

Vincent Jackson up. He played great this postseason, opening some eyes. Wish he had done that all year. The guy is going to get single coverage with Chris Chambers and Antonio Gates playing alongside him. Still a big-size, big-jump guy.

But the most interesting dilemma we've got is who we'd take first between LT and Brady, and if LT is even the No. 1 runner. Tomlinson has never played 19 games (actually, more like 17 1/2 games) in a 12-month span, and he enters the offseason with a sprained left MCL. The injury doesn't really worry us, assuming it really is just a sprain (I bet it's worse). Furthermore, Tomlinson is 29 and heading into his eighth NFL season. Not this year, but NEXT year is when running backs start to slow down. I don't know if LT would qualify, since the elite runners usually push through their eighth, ninth and 10th full seasons with flying colors, and LT is an elite player. All that said, the case for dropping Tomlinson isn't strong ... for now. We did move Brady to No. 2 overall on the Top 200.

Thoughts? Comments? Random statements? Let's chat. Post a message below and I'll respond.
Posted on: January 16, 2008 5:32 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2008 9:35 am

LaDainian talks 'Burner'; Brady a bummer

We had the opportunity to talk to LaDainian Tomlinson today as part of an NFL conference call. While most of the questions were about LT's upcoming playoff game at New England, I asked him about Michael Turner and what it's meant to have him as a teammate:

It's been great to have him on the team because I've always felt like I can take a rest at times throughout the game and kind of stay fresh because I've got a guy like Michael Turner who can come in there and pound away and keep the chains moving. So it's a benefit to all of us to have him on the field and have him on our team. You know, he's a pro. He understands his role on the team and he did it."

Why ask about Turner? Because he's a free agent this coming offseason, and chances are he'll sign a big contract to start somewhere in 2008. Who would know him better than Tomlinson?

Which is why I'm a little disappointed in his answer. But it's understandable -- the guy was on the call fresh off the practice field, so the last thing he probably wanted to do was chat for 10 minutes with random people all over the world. In fact, Tomlinson sounded tired and annoyed for most of the call. He kind of perked up talking about Turner, as well as Darren Sproles.

I also asked Tomlinson about whether he thought his offseason routine would change because he's playing three extra games. He misunderstood the question and thought I was asking about playing on a bye vs. playing a wild-card game. For what it's worth, he said he liked playing the extra games. A big concern of mine is LT's physical well being heading into 2008 after tacking on three games (maybe four if he wins at NE) this postseason.

Moving on ... we also spoke to Tom Brady on the same conference call. No team says nothing quite like the New England Patriots. I asked Brady about Maroney's role during the season, and instead of receiving some harmless insight (the regular season is over, Tom!), I got the every-week-brings-new-challenges can o' crap: "
I think every week is something different, and really whatever we feel like we need to do, that's what we do, and that helps Coach Belichick.  As a quarterback, I just try to run the plays that are called.<o:p></o:p> "

But I did get a straight answer out of Brady when, right after his answer, I asked if he ever had any say in the offensive game plan. Brady was actually committal: "I have none. I just kind of do what they tell me to do."

I actually found that interesting -- arguably the best quarterback in the league doesn't get to voice his opinion on what he thinks would work against an opponent.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com