One goal runs through Tomlinson

The offense flows through LaDainian Tomlinson – not exactly a revelation. The Pro Bowl running back has, for the most part, had his way with opposing defenses, making plays out of nothing and taking one block and making it a big gain.

He enters 2006 as the focal point of the offense, again. It is his show and versatility that make him so tough to defend. He can run up the middle, to the outside, and remains a force in the passing game.

"We have a lot of potential," LaDainian Tomlinson said of the team that surrounds him. "We have shown that the last couple years. Guys that know how to win and expect to win. We don't sell ourselves short in any way. I am excited about that."

Names like Antonio Gates, Keenan McCardell and Philip Rivers on the offensive front – some who are proven and another that has to prove himself.

Simply stated, he can't do it all alone, no matter if they term him Superman. The blocking up front has lagged behind and has left him with little room to move. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Carl Mauck was fired after last season.

Tomlinson has also battled through injuries that last two years, limiting his ability to power through the line as he did in the past. At one point, Tomlinson wondered if he had been at fifty percent during the 2004 season. Last year, many had wondered if the Chargers might have been aided by more touches for Michael Turner. But Tomlinson is no quitter; try asking your best player to come off the field.

He comes into the year healthy and the offense has received a boost with new line coach Jack Henry and more experience from the line.

The one thing that has been missing is running to the outside. The line hasn't been athletic enough to get in front of the play but Henry expects to change that this season to get the most out of Tomlinson's ability to use the whole field.

"We are a power running team," Keenan McCardell admitted.

Through his first five years in the league, Tomlinson has 45 runs that have gone 20-yards or more and has scored 72 rushing touchdowns in 79 games. He has also caught more than 50 passes each season as a pro.

He is the top threat on the team but needs help. Defenses will focus on him with Philip Rivers at quarterback and the offensive line will have to play better than they did last year, despite Tomlinson continued praise of their work. The passing game plays a part in opening up his game as well.

Tomlinson is an electric runner that has shown moves that rival Barry Sanders. His move on Ty Law last year was a thing of beauty and just a glimpse of his ability.

The Chargers focus on ball control plays into Tomlinson's strengths. He has lost nine fumbles in 1,702 rushing attempts and has proven to be a workhorse with over 310 attempts in each season.

There was no 2,000-yard proclamation from Tomlinson this year. He made it much simpler.

"The Super Bowl is my number," Tomlinson said.


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