Chargers Bring Balanced Attack into Playoffs

LaDainian Tomlinson is bummed about his beloved TCU losing to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, but other than that, life is good. Tomlinson, a former TCU star, enters the playoffs as healthy as he has been in some time.

No longer asked to do the heavy lifting for the high-powered Chargers' offense, LaDainian Tomlinson figures to have a smooth giddy-up when the Chargers open play on Jan. 17 against the Bengals, Patriots or Jets.

"I'm not dinged-up at all,'' said Tomlinson, who missed two games earlier this year with an ankle injury. "I am where I wanted to be going into the playoffs.''

Last season Tomlinson wasn't able to go in the postseason when injuring his groin in the regular-season finale.

The season before that, Tomlinson missed the majority of the AFC Championship Game with a sprained knee.

But with the Chargers' offense now built around quarterback Philip Rivers - and Tomlinson having a talented sidekick in Darren Sproles - Tomlinson isn't dragging into the most important part of the season.

While Tomlinson's numbers are down across the board, his optimism has never been higher.

"It makes us feel good the way we are playing right now,'' Tomlinson said of the team's 11-game winning streak. "We're clicking on all cylinders and it really makes it fun this time of the year.''


LB Shawne Merriman
Ezra Shaw/Getty
--OLB Shawne Merriman (foot) could be among the Chargers most benefiting from the bye week. Merriman didn't play in the regular-season finale, and coach Norv Turner said Merriman could be as healthy for the playoff game as he has been all year.

--T Jon Runyan will continue in his backup role at right tackle. Runyan, a 13-year pro, was brought in late in the season to possibly take over a starting spot after an injury to Jeromey Clary. But Brandyn Dombrowski has played so well, Runyan will retain his second-string status.

--FS Eric Weddle might have rushed back a little soon after spraining his knee last month. Weddle missed two games before returning, but it was still sore. He sat out the last game and is expected to start practicing this week.

--WR Malcom Floyd could be poised for a big playoff run. Floyd is coming off a 140-yard receiving day and will benefit from WR Vincent Jackson returning from an Achilles injury for the playoffs. With defenses focusing on Jackson, keep an eye on a surging Floyd.

--C Nick Hardwick is showing no signs that his surgically repaired ankle is balking. Hardwick, a Pro Bowler, missed most the season after getting hurt in the opener. Hardwick's return gives the line a big boost.

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