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Sunday, January 4, 2009
A tough situation for Tomlinson

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

You have to feel badly for LaDainian Tomlinson.

The Chargers are trying to make another run through the playoffs and again Tomlinson is banged up. He is not at full strength and he likely won't be at full strength during the Chargers' playoff run.

 
 AP Photo/Denis Poroy
 LaDainian Tomlinson was slowed by a groin injury in Saturday's game.

Tomlinson has a serious groin injury. He suffered the injury in the regular-season finale against Denver. He didn't practice all week and made it through just five carries Saturday in the San Diego's win over Indianapolis. He didn't play in the second half.

After the game Saturday night, he would not commit to playing or not playing in the divisional playoff round next weekend. It is clear that this is an injury that is going to take time to heal. Tomlinson tried to play Saturday and he will try to play next week. He took pain shots before the Colts game and he will likely do it again next week.

Tomlinson wants to play, just like he did last year. Tomlinson took some heat when he played sparingly in the AFC Championship Game in New England because of a knee injury. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers played in the game despite suffering a torn ACL the week before.

The criticism clearly bothered Tomlinson. He didn't want the reputation as a player who doesn't show when it counts. He doesn't deserve it, either. Tomlinson is a tough back. He's a future Hall of Famer.

The timing was just bad last season, and it's bad again this season. You have to feel for Tomlinson. He wants to be on the field. But it just isn't working right now.

The Chargers are still in decent shape at running back with backup Darren Sproles, who has 219 yards rushing in the past two games. But they need Tomlinson as well.

It just may not happen. If Tomlinson can't play the rest of the way, it will end a frustrating season. It was one of his least productive NFL seasons and it started poorly. Tomlinson was affected by a turf toe injury he suffered on opening day for the first half of the season. He was coming on strong at the end of the season. Now, he is dealing with an injury again. And again, it's in the playoffs.

There are no guarantees Tomlinson will get many chances to be a postseason star. He will be 30 next season and let's face it, the injuries are starting to pile up. Tomlinson may not be at the end of the line but his time may be running short. His playoff opportunities are getting precious and to see him deal with another postseason injury problem is discouraging for this proud player.