Teammates have Edwards' back

San Diego Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards has been included in trade talks. He has been beaten down by his general manager. He has also been exalted by his teammates for a job well done.

Taken aback by some vile comments by general manager A.J. Smith, Donnie Edwards' colleagues have rallied around the team's leading tackler in each of the past four seasons.

Smith, who has rebuffed Edwards' attempts for a contract extension, ripped one of the team's most popular and productive players.

"It's hard to be some place where it seems no one wants you," Edwards said.

Smith has clammed up talking about Edwards. But earlier in camp, Smith was quoted as saying:

"I'm just tired of all his bull (crap) and innuendo he's put out there," Smith said. "Just shut up and play; that's your job."

This will be Edwards' 11th season, so little surprises him on and off the field. Although, he admits that Smith's derogatory remarks made for a rude awaking.

"This business is funny," Edwards said, without a laugh.

Edwards' descent from Smith's good graces hasn't deflated his credibility with his colleagues.

"If you look at the numbers and the things this guy has put up over the last three or four years, it is outstanding," said linebacker Shawne Merriman, of the player with 121 consecutive starts. "I feel he should get more credit. Of course, he is a big part of our defense.

"All of us don't know what is going to happen in this situation, what is going to come out of it. As a team, we try not to get too involved in it, but at the same time we want him here."

Among Edwards' alleged drawbacks is he makes tackles too far down field, which pads his stats.

"People talk so much that he is making tackles for gains or guys were dragging him this or that," defensive end Luis Castillo said. "Regardless, we finished as the No. 1 run defense in the league. So you could say (the rusher) got 2 yards every time, but (Edwards) made a tackle and we still finished No. 1. So there is something to say when a defense finishes No. 1 and a guy has 114 tackles like he did last year.

"All that stuff, when you break down the stats sometimes, it really doesn't mean that much. When you get a guy making the plays all over the field and can run sideline to sideline it doesn't matter."


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