|ESPN.com: AFC West||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
San Diego's backup tailbacks will be the focal point of their run offense in Sunday's AFC divisional playoff game at Pittsburgh.
Barring an unexpected change, the Chargers' running attack will be a group effort from Darren Sproles, Michael Bennett and Jacob Hester. Star tailback LaDainian Tomlinson was officially listed as doubtful for the game as the Chargers headed to Pittsburgh on Friday. He may try to play Sunday but, as of now, he is not expected to play against the Steelers because of a torn groin he suffered against Denver on Dec. 28. Tomlinson didn't play in the second half in San Diego's win over the Colts last Saturday.
Tomlinson had five carries against the Colts while Sproles had 105 yards on 23 carries. Sproles will carry the load at Pittsburgh. It will be interesting to see how Sproles, who is 5-foot-6, 181 pounds, deals with a heavy load for the second straight week, especially in poor weather and against the No. 2 ranked run defense in the NFL.
Bennett will spell Sproles and Hester will likely be asked to get carries in short-yardage situations.
Meanwhile, San Diego tight end Antonio Gates is listed as questionable for Sunday. He didn't practice all week with a high and low ankle sprain on his right foot. Still, Gates will likely play. He had a game-high eight catches against the Colts after not practicing all week.
Also, San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding is probable with a groin injury. He did not practice the past two games with a groin injury. However, the team expects him to be able to play.