Chargers face catch-22

Here's the catch with LaDainian Tomlinson: he doesn't have any. "I am more than just a ball carrier," he said. "I am used to catching balls out of the backfield."

The Chargers are without wins and Tomlinson is minus receptions.

"I want to be utilized a little bit more than I am," said Tomlinson, who has rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns in the Chargers' season-opening two losses.

Tomlinson, a two-time Pro Bowler, seeks his first reception. This, after averaging nearly 73 catches in his first four years.

He's the only back in NFL history to have 100 receptions and a 1,000-yard rushing season.

"Just use me like they have been using me," he said. "I'm more than just a ball-carrier, but I don't want this to seem like I'm complaining about not getting the ball."

Tomlinson is biting his tongue through his request, not looking to rock an already wobbly offense.

"I've had the ball 19 times the past two games and any time you get the ball that much, you got to be able to make something happen and I just haven't done it," Tomlinson said.

The Chargers like to shoot for some 30 touches in a game by Tomlinson. Instead, he has 38 touches in two games.

This time last year, he had 45 rushes (208 yards, two TDs) and six catches (72 yards, with a long of 59).

Coach Marty Schottenheimer said the repeated blitzes and coverages the Chargers are facing make it imperative for Tomlinson to block.

"What we are getting is considerable man-to-man coverage and there is pressure," he said. "And protection in the passing game comes first."

Still, can't the Chargers figure some way to get one of the NFL's biggest weapons the ball? With the offensive line struggling, Tomlinson's best shot could be by creating his own space on routes. He certainly has the hands and feet to breathe life in an offense that had 41 second-half yards in the loss at Denver.

"I'm so used to catching some balls out of the backfield," Tomlinson said. "And even in a game like (Sunday), they were playing well against the run. I would have liked to have my opportunity to go up against (safety John) Lynch and some of the linebackers, running routes out of the backfield."

As the Chargers' path heads down, Tomlinson wants his work to go up.

"I'm a competitive person," Tomlinson said. "I feel like I can do more. But at the same time we do have other players on the team that can make plays."

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