L.T. Bears a 'Bring it on' Mentality

The Bears have yet to touch down in San Diego, but both teams are hearing an earful about Sunday's season opener. The Bears are determined to keep L.T.'s Nike commercial from becoming prophetic, while the MVP is planning an aerial counterstrike.

What stands out to LaDainian Tomlinson about the Chicago Bears defense is that they are aggressive, fast and smart. Tomlinson expects a big challenge on Sunday but is eager to play and willing to step in wherever Norv Turner needs him.

Ever the team player, L.T. has his visor-protected eyes on the ultimate prize and will not attempt to recreate his 2006 season.

"I'm just going to try and do everything that I can to help this team win games," Tomlinson said.

Turner's ever-expanding playbook is sure to help. L.T. said that his head coach definitely has plays that will catch fans and opponents by surprise. And no, the halfback pass hasn't gone anywhere.

Bulletin Board Material

As if matching up the two best teams from the 2006 regular season was not enough, add to the mix the Nike commercial that Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers and Shawne Merriman filmed at Qualcomm this spring.

In the TV ad, Tomlinson burnt the Bears for a long touchdown, prompting Brian Urlacher to add fuel the fire.

"How did we do the last time we played them," Urlacher asked the Chicago Tribune. "How did he do that game? Look at the stats and see how he did."

Tomlinson gained 61 yards and had one touchdown at Soldier Field four years ago, a season the Chargers finished 4-12. A drastically improved team faces the Bears on Sunday.

To Norv Turner, none of this bickering matters on game day. Two or three plays in, no fan will be thinking about the commercial.

Count Rivers among those more concerned with what happens during the game than during the commercial breaks.

"It's the type of game you dream about playing when you are growing up in the backyard. Now, we are right here in the thick of it," Rivers said.

Despite the brewing rivalry, Urlacher and Lance Briggs have L.T.'s votes for providing some of the best middle coverage in the league. The man who molded those two, Ron Rivera, is now the inside linebackers coach in San Diego. Rivera is focusing on preparing his new starters, Matt Wilhelm and Stephen Cooper, for Sunday.

Rivera took a lesser position with San Diego, but the Chargers are thrilled to have an overqualified coach working to make the inside linebackers as dominant as the outside. Merriman and Shaun Phillips combined for 28.5 sacks last season; no tandem did better.


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