Chargers Upbeat? Tomlinson Says So

San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson has been one of the few to wear his emotions on his sleeve. Coming off the bye week, where the team didn't lose has to be refreshing. He even considers the mood to be "pretty upbeat" on the practice field.

Many of you are probably wondering how it is possible – the team being upbeat. LaDainian Tomlinson credits Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer for his focus, despite the record.

"He seems pretty much the same," said Tomlinson. "Whatever situation we're in, he seems pretty confident. Marty's the reason we're so upbeat and expecting things to turn around because he's that way.

"I feel that Marty has really changed since back then (when he used to coach the Browns). I used to hear a lot about how hard he was in practice and everything but he has really changed."

Talk about a leader setting the tone for the rest of the season. Tomlinson just stamped Schottenheimer as the parcel that will get this team some wins. Considering the last tumultuous week on Murphy Canyon, that seal of approval is akin to the Federal Drug Administration putting Viagra on the market.

"For an 0-5 team, guys are really desperate to get a win," said Tomlinson. "It's somewhat surprising that we're 0-5 because we expected big things but hopefully we can get this thing turned around."

Not if you were watching the games, on TV or on tape, not surprising at all. You saw better tackling by Pedro Martinez on Don Zimmer than the Chargers defense provides.

Still, coming out of the bye week, players have admitted they worked hard, especially on the team concept.

Each guy had their own way of dealing with this adversity.

Phil Bogle got some much needed rest this weekend. He is ready to step in at guard this week and what appears to be the rest of the season. He thinks the team is coming along. His feeling is the desperate attitude of the team has "been there from day one."

"We are going in there with the same focus. We know what we have to do as a team. Once we all start to play as a team, we will be fine," said Bogle.

Donnie Edwards was not about to rest. The veteran linebacker stayed in town this week to show the rookies it will take work to get this thing turned around. He is not afraid of putting in the time, but is ready to end the losing streak.

"It is about pride," says Edwards.

"We were able to evaluate a lot of the things that we were doing so I think (the bye) helped us a lot," added Tomlinson. "I think we'll see this week how much it really did help us."

Tomlinson will get to run behind Bogle at right guard and Solomon Page will work out at right tackle, a position he originally lobbied for upon signing in San Diego. With injuries to several linemen the merry-go-round may have finally come to a stop. The nuances of LT will need to be picked up by the line for it to be successful.

"I think those guys are really still trying to put it together with all the shuffling around and everything," said Tomlinson. "I think we're putting people in the right place where I think they'll be for the rest of the season. Now it's about then gelling as a unit. We had a good week of practice last week and I think we're on a pace for a good week this week also."

The Chargers offensive line faces a talented front four in Cleveland this week. The hope is to dominate them and make the young linebackers have to do the tackling.

The Browns, most will recall, are the team that gave up a record setting performance to Jamal Lewis earlier this season. Unlike the Chargers, the Browns have made adjustments and are much improved.

"They have three first round picks on their defensive line – all of those guys are pretty good," said Tomlinson. "‘Big Money' Gerard Warren takes up a lot of space in the middle and occupies blocks and Courtney Brown has had a great year so far and those are just two of the guys that make their defensive go."

Tomlinson just hopes the Chargers stay in the game throughout and not render him useless:

"In the first few games we've been down so it's been hard to continue to try to run the football. At that point it was difficult to stay in the game as far as running the football so the thing I needed to do was to try to help guys in other ways as far as blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield."

The key to success this week figures to be Tomlinson. He is tired of losing, shows it in his tone of voice that strains when he reflects back and he is willing to shoulder the load for the offense. He knows he can't do it all and has his own key for success this week.

"I think we need a big play in the crucial part of the game. Late in the third quarter or in the fourth quarter, we need a big play to really put us over the edge and get something positive to work for us."

Tomlinson is just the man for the job. The painful part -- if it is not LT, just who will step up and make that play for the Chargers -- 0-6 is not that far away.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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