The best tandem in the NFL?

The Chargers could learn a lesson from their opponents this week. The Titans have the deepest group of halfbacks in the league, ensuring that the ball carrier is always fresh and that there are always enough healthy bodies to tote the pigskin. But the top two of LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner could be the best in the league.

Chris Brown and Travis Henry are both former thousand-yard rushers, while rookie second-round pick Lendale White scored 24 touchdowns last season at USC.

The Chargers may not be three-deep at the position, but they do have one of the league's best one-two punches. It's just too bad they don't take advantage of it like the Titans do. In week one, Tennessee gave Brown 17 touches and Henry 10; the Chargers gave LaDainian Tomlinson 34 touches and just 10 to Michael Turner.

"He is a valuable back for us," quarterback Philip Rivers said of Turner. "He is in a valuable position. You are not just giving LT a rest, you are putting a guy in there that can make big plays."

If the Chargers are going to lean heavily on the run this season, they'd be well advised not to wear Tomlinson out too early. Despite the fact that Michael Turner is one of the game's best reserves, Tomlinson was still carrying the ball with less than eight minutes remaining in the Oakland game with his team sporting a 20-point lead.

Tomlinson was feeling the effects of his heavy lifting immediately afterwards.

"I have a couple of bruises, but it feels good to be back in the mix," said Tomlinson after the Raiders game. "I feel like I did something today."

Turner has to feel like he could have done something more. After all, he has a career average of 5.5 yards per carry.

Take away Tomlinson's 58-yard romp and he averaged a mere 2.4 yards per carry against a Raiders defense that spent over 35 minutes on the gridiron. Still, it is hard to take him off the field because in addition to being a terrific runner, he is explosive enough to turn an outlet pass into a big play.

Rivers knows he needs all his backs to be productive if the offense is to run smoothly.

"He (Tomlinson) knows when to bust one, when to try to bust one and when to get the three yards north and south and keep a drive going," Rivers said. "When you throw in a guy like Michael Turner to complement him, and we even change it up and give it to Lorenzo Neal every now and then, it's a heck of a group that I've got back there."

The group will always be spearheaded by Tomlinson, the most explosive all-around back in the game. However, if the team is going to divide more than 40 carries between him and Turner, Tomlinson need not be on the heavy side of a three-to-one ratio.

Turner is a tougher runner than Tomlinson and it is only by utilizing both backs that the Chargers can continue to be successful with such a run-heavy offense.

"I go out there with a whatever it takes attitude," Turner explained. "I have the speed to get outside and turn the corner and can run people over too. Whatever it takes."

The best duo in the NFL? Only if Turner is used.


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