All About Tomlinson

The key to Sunday's game? Stopping San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson of course.

Bill Parcells has been around the block a time or two. His teams have always been known for their blue collar approach and intensity. This Sunday in the Cowboys' season opener against San Deigo, he is hoping that is enough to stop Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

"Tomlinson is one of the premier players in the league both run and pass," Parcells said. "So he's a big problem. They use him on third downs. They don't' take him out. They use him on screens. He is a check-down guy. So he's a complete back for them.

"You see it on the film and he's a very good player. It's not like you don't have a feeling for a player like that. He's had so much exposure."

Tomlinson begins his quest for the rushing championship and a place in NFL history, not only in this game as he looks to tie the touchdown mark of 13 games in a row with a score held by John Riggins and George Rogers, but in subsequent games as he tries to assault the record books for most yards in a single season.

For Tomlinson, looking to reach new heights is nothing new.

When many people thought he may look to abandon the franchise during their worst times, he signed an extension. As people questioned the offensive line in front of him, he called them out in praise.

And this year the proclamation was made early on and is grabbing headlines. Reaching that threshold begins against Dallas, the team he grew up idolizing.

"It is a lofty goal," Tomlinson said of his vocal approach to attacking the single season rushing record. "I always set my goals high. That is how you keep striving to get better every year. You can't be complacent. You have to set your goals high every year and continue to get better."

Like the Chargers, the Cowboys also play the 3-4 defense, which could also mean they Bolts know how to exploit its weaknesses.

But the 3-4 was designed to stop the run first. In the first year the Chargers deployed the scheme, they ranked third in the NFL against the run and almost made it through the season without a runner notching a 20-plus yard gain.

Dallas head coach Bill Parcells is a veteran in the 3-4, using it many of his stops en route to Texas.

"Bill and his staff have run the 3-4 defense for years," Schottenheimer admitted. "They don't do a whole lot but what they do is effective. His players are going to know what to do. He is going to give his team a chance to be physical. Bill does not get enough credit for the job he has done teaching."

But no one can teach what LaDainian Tomlinson can do with the rock in his hands. His deft moves leave defenders grasping at the grass clippings being kicked up.

One advantage Dallas has this week is the absence of Antonio Gates from the lineup. Without the top receiving threat, Dallas will stack the box a bit more to take away the number one option.

"Whenever you don't have a productive receiver, someone has to step up and do it or your offense suffers," said Parcells. "You have one less weapon. But, they are pretty good at tight end and they are going to throw the ball to their tight ends no matter who's in there.

"Now whether that guy can produce as much as Gates, I don't know."

Gates caught 81 passes for 964 yards and 13 touchdowns last year – the likelihood of anyone bringing that kind of production is slim.

Adverse conditions, however, are what Tomlinson thrives on. And this week it will be the Pro Bowl running back that looks to maintain his healthy yard per carry average this season.

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