Tomlinson vs. Green

San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson is undoubtedly the heart of the team. In the ever changing NFL, the same can now be said about Ahman Green of the Green Bay Packers. Sure the team still has Brett Favre, but Green is now the star.

Ahman Green is one of the best in the business. He has scored 11 times and rushed for 1,463 yards through 13 games. He has also added 355 yards receiving on 47 receptions. The dual threat of the running game and receiving game will pose matchup problems for San Diego.

"I think he has had a great year," LaDainian Tomlinson said of Green. "He has been pretty consistent the last few years. He doesn't get enough credit for what he does. A lot of people are afraid to face him."

Tomlinson's year is not too shabby either. He ranks third in the AFC with 1,260 yards rushing, averaging 5.25 yards per attempt. San Diego leads the NFL in average yards per rushing attempt at 5.15. The Packers are third in that category at 5.03 per attempt.

The Packers' Ahman Green and Tomlinson rank second and third, respectively, in the NFL in yards from scrimmage. Green needs 182 yards to go over 2,000 yards for the season. Tomlinson needs 184 yards to surpass that milestone.

"I think he is a great runner," defensive tackle Grady Jackson said of Tomlinson. "You can't take anything away from him. Like Barry Sanders said, he compares himself to LaDainian Tomlinson. He makes cuts like Barry."

Tomlinson has had five 100-yard rushing games, after seven last season, and not only leads all running backs in receptions with 75, but is seventh in the NFL.

"I do (take pride in my receiving skills)," said Tomlinson. "The way the game is today, you have to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield. It helps you as a player if you are able to do multiple things."

Does LT consider himself a premiere back?

"I just go out and do my job and keep trying to get better."

And each year he is improving. As a rookie he averaged just 3.63 yards per carry. In his sophomore season 4.52 and now he is well over five with a 5.25 mark per attempt.

The difference will be the defenses they face. San Diego is allowing 32.2 more yards rushing per game than the Packers, 139.5 to 107.3.

"I think they have a really good defense," says Tomlinson. "They are able to play different parts of the game really well. Two big guys up front to stop the run and the linebackers are very active."

"And then when you try and throw the ball, you have defensive end KGB. He really creates a lot of problems. You always have to worry about the safeties, particularly (Darren Sharper) back there."

Therein lies the other difference. The Pack is allowing fewer passing yards per game than the Chargers and there is no one named Brett Favre on the Bolts sidelines.

"We know they are a young team, but very talented," wide receiver Donald Driver said regarding the Chargers secondary.

The Packers are experienced in their secondary and the Chargers receivers are limping into this game.

In essence Jackson hit the nail on the head:

"(Tomlinson) is really the whole team. Out of 60 plays he might touch the ball 40 times. You have to be ready for that – out of the backfield, running and passing the ball. That's our key to stop number 21."

Who cares whom the quarterback is when the truth is out there. The Chargers will live and die by Tomlinson. The Packers will feed Green but they can always turn to old reliable should the need arise.

The Chargers – they have nowhere to turn, at least until proven otherwise.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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