Dynamic duo in Chargers' backfield

No team boasts a better pair of runners than the Chargers, who have All-Pro LaDainian Tomlinson backed up by star-in-the-waiting Michael Turner.

With the team expected to become more run-oriented during the transition to Philip Rivers, the Chargers are considering putting Tomlinson and Turner onto the field at the same time.

It seems a handful of teams fiddle around with similar schemes every season, but the idea of playing to halfbacks in the same backfield rarely works.

The problem is that even if both players are excellent runners – as Tomlinson and Turner are – only one can carry the ball at a time. That means whichever runner is not carrying the ball is then forced to block, a chore usually better left to fullbacks.

The Chargers, however, may be one of the few teams who can make this two-halfback scheme work. For one thing, Tomlinson is so versatile that he can line up as a slot receiver, leaving Turner alone in the backfield as a viable running threat. For another, the 237-pound Turner is larger and more powerful than most halfbacks, making him fully capable of blocking for Tomlinson.

Still, Tomlinson will be the lone running threat more often than not. The Chargers want bruising lead blocker Lorenzo Neal on the field, so Turner will have to be patient.

"There is always a guy there before me who is a starter," Turner said. "I have to wait my turn."

It's not as if Turner will be twiddling his thumbs while Tomlinson runs first team; he will be returning kickoffs during the season opener at Oakland. Also, he'll see time on offense when Tomlinson needs a breather.

"I will probably be on the field more on offense than last year," Turner said. "Special teams is still my focus. You want to contribute, you play on special teams."

Tomlinson, meanwhile, is eager to get back to work following his preseason sabbatical.

"I am eager to get back on the field," he said.

No matter how good Turner looks during the preseason, Tomlinson is one player who will never have to look over his shoulder.

He is the player teams like Oakland hate to see. In ten career games against the Raiders, Tomlinson has racked up 1,422 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns; he threw for two scores, too.

"We usually come up with a good scheme against these guys," Tomlinson smiled.

The idea of Tomlinson and Turner sharing a backfield is a tantalizing one. The two will likely play simultaneously in Oakland on occasion, but each will torment the Raiders defense on a mostly individual basis. As long as they're still tormenting the Raiders, Chargers fans aren't apt to mind.


SD Super Chargers Top Stories