NFC South: LaDainian Tomlinson
There might have been a reason why predecessor Mike Mularkey was so hesitant to throw to his running backs. Michael Turner simply wasn’t a receiving threat. In five seasons with the Falcons, Turner caught 59 passes.
A lot of people are viewing the arrival of Steven Jackson as Turner’s replacement as evidence that Atlanta’s running game will improve. I have no doubt that will happen.
But I think a lot of people are only looking at half of what Jackson brings to the table. Jackson is one of the best pass-catching running backs in recent history.
In fact, I just dialed up the database at ESPN Stats & Information and came up with something interesting. Since his arrival in the league in 2004, Jackson’s 407 receptions are the most by any running back in that period.
For the sake of comparison, the only other running backs with more than 300 catches during that same span are Brian Westbrook (396), LaDainian Tomlinson (386), Reggie Bush (372), Frank Gore (315), Ray Rice (311) and Darren Sproles (307).
I’m pretty sure we can expect to see some new wrinkles from Koetter because Jackson can do more than catch screen passes. He can run a lot of different routes. Rodgers can do the same.
That’s going to create all sorts of headaches for defenses that already have their hands full with Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez.
Even coach Mike Smith, who usually goes out of his way to not give away anything close to strategy is raving about Jackson's ability as a receiver.
“He’s a big strong running back that catches the ball extremely well,'' Smith told the media Wednesday. "He creates issues for defenses. He’s just another weapon that we have in our offensive arsenal. He’s a guy who had close to 100 catches in a season, so he’s a guy that we can use in the passing game. He’s not just a running back, he’s a receiving back as well.”
I don’t see that changing anytime soon, unless the Tampa Bay Buccaneers suddenly make a trade for Darrelle Revis. So let’s feed the Jackson talk a little more with some by-the-numbers nuggets from ESPN Stats & Information.
- The three-time Pro Bowler has rushed for 1,000 yards in eight consecutive seasons. Only Emmitt Smith (11 straight seasons), Curtis Martin (10 straight) and Barry Sanders (10 straight) have longer streaks than Jackson.
- Jackson is a receiving threat out of the backfield. He has had seven seasons with 1,000 rushing yards and 300 receiving yards. LaDainian Tomlinson and Walter Payton, who each accomplished that feat eight times, are the only players to do that more than Jackson.
- Jackson can make things happen after contact. Over the past four seasons, Jackson has run for 2,172 yards after contact. Adrian Peterson (2,918 yards) is the only player with more yards after contact in that span.
- Among active running backs, Jackson ranks first with 2,395 career carries, first with 10,135 rushing yards and is tied for fifth with 56 touchdowns.
- Also, in this Insider post, Football Outsiders takes an in-depth look at what Jackson brings to the Falcons.
Jeff Schultz writes that the Falcons have flaws, but points out every NFL team does. That’s very true. It may seem like the world is picking the Falcons apart right now. But the fact is they’re 8-1 and some of their flaws are fixable. This team still is in very good shape.
Retired running back LaDainian Tomlinson came to the defense of Michael Turner, saying he needs more carries to get into a rhythm. I get the point, but the Falcons started making it very clear back in the offseason that Turner’s carries would be limited. Also, keep in mind that Tomlinson and Turner were teammates in San Diego.
Although Cam Newton has struggled at times, members of Tampa Bay’s defense said they’re still taking the challenge of facing the quarterback Sunday very seriously because he has the ability to make big plays at any time.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Although he is currently serving a suspension and isn’t supposed to have contact with anyone from the Saints, Sean Payton is allowed to negotiate a new contract with the team, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. Payton’s contract extension, which was agreed to over a year ago, was voided because it contained language that said he could get out of the deal if general manager Mickey Loomis left the Saints. The NFL didn’t want to set a precedent in which a coach’s job status was tied to that of someone else in the organization.
With a lot of other quarterbacks injured around the league, Drew Brees said he’s been lucky to stay healthy throughout his time with the Saints. There might be some luck involved, but I think Brees also has been helped by a good offensive line and a scheme that doesn’t have him sitting in the pocket for long periods of time.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Pro Bowl guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph already are out with season-ending injuries, but the Bucs may have to re-shuffle their offensive line again. Jamon Meredith, who has been starting at right guard, is dealing with an ankle injury. If he can’t play at Carolina on Sunday, the Bucs would have to consider several alternatives, including starting Roger Allen or moving backup tackle Jeremy Trueblood to guard.
I don’t think either would be a mistake because the Bucs have needs at both positions. But there’s a longstanding rule of thumb in the NFL that you don’t take a running back early in the draft.
If you think that theory is outdated, you may want to take a look at this Insider post from Football Outsiders. It lays out some pretty convincing evidence that there’s not a lot to be gained by drafting a running back early in the first round.
The five leading rushers over the last five seasons are Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson and Michael Turner. Those five have combined for two playoff wins as starting running backs (and that doesn’t include two playoff victories Turner had as a backup to LaDainian Tomlinson with the 2007 Chargers).
The column then points to the backfields of the two Super Bowl teams. The New York Giants had Ahmad Bradshaw (a seventh-round pick) and Brandon Jacobs (a fourth-round pick). The New England Patriots had a pair of undrafted running backs in BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead as well as third-round pick Stevan Ridley.
Yes, the Bucs need someone to pair in the backfield with LeGarrette Blount. But, unless they believe Richardson is the kind of player who can be an exception to a rule, they might be wise to wait until later in the draft -- or use free agency -- to add a running back.
But Brees is picking up his share of hardware. The latest came Friday night in Los Angeles as Brees was announced the winner of the 46th annual Byron “Whizzer’’ White Award during the NFL Players Association PULSE Awards.
“It’s such a tremendous honor,’’ Brees said. “As I look at the list of names associated with this award, and certainly the namesake, Mr. Byron 'Whizzer' White, this award stands for so much.''
Brees also got pretty philosophical about his role as a football player and citizen during his acceptance speech.
“My head coach, Sean Payton, is a Bill Parcells disciple, and something that he has told us many times -- you’ll actually hear Bill Parcells say it as well -- as an NFL player, you get asked to ride on that train, and you try and ride it for as long as you can,’’ Brees said. “At some point, you’re going to be asked to get off, but you’re going to be better having had the opportunity to ride on that train. I think also, the mindset should be not only is it going to leave you better than when it found you, but I think your mission should be to leave the game better than when you found it. Not only does that mean what you do on the field, but that means what you do off the field.”
Brees has been extremely active in charitable and community events since arriving in New Orleans in 2006. Even before that, he was involved in charitable activities. As a member of the San Diego Chargers in 2003, he started The Brees Dream Foundation to advance cancer research and help children in need.
Brees also received another award Friday night. As the result of fan voting, Brees was chosen as the winner of the “Heart of the Game Award. That’s designed to honor a player for his “determination, enthusiasm and overall passion for the game and his teammates."
I can’t argue with that. In fact, Turner was the only NFC South running back I included on my top 10 ballot. He’s also the only NFC South back who got any votes from our panel.
Turner came in at No. 6, although I ranked him No. 4. Just for background, I don’t use some big scientific system when doing these rankings, but I was probably closer to being scientific on running backs than I will be on any other position. That’s because running backs are different. They have very short shelf lives.
As I filled out my ballot, I looked mostly at rushing totals in two time increments. One was for the past two years and the other was for the past three years. If we had opened it up to the last eight years, then you’d have to rank guys like LaDainian Tomlinson very high and that wouldn’t be right because he no longer is an elite back.
Turner has been a 1,000-yard rusher in two of the past three seasons and it easily would have been three if inuries had not sidelined him for part of 2009 and that makes him a very solid choice on any list of top running backs.
What about Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart? First off, they’ve split carries much of the past few seasons and that holds down their numbers. Williams is an enormously talented all-around back. If I were building a team, I wouldn’t mind having him as my main running back. Problem is, he’s not even a true feature back when he and Stewart are together. Injuries also have limited Williams’ numbers.
Stewart’s a guy who, on any given day, can look as good as any back in the league. The downside with Stewart is his injury history. He came into the league with a chronic foot problem and it’s kind of a tribute to Carolina’s medical staff that he has been able to accomplish as much as he has.
Tampa Bay’s LeGarrette Blount? Well, I left him off for now. But I’ve got a feeling he’ll be on this list next year. Just need to see him go out and do what he did last year over the course of an entire season. Oh, and by the way, Blount might want to cut out the leaping acts. They make for some good highlights, but he’s going to get hurt if he keeps that up on a regular basis. As a general rule, one of the first things running backs are taught is not to leave their feet.
Finally, we’ll touch briefly on the New Orleans running backs -- Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Chris Ivory. None of them are top-10 material. There are several reasons for that. They’re used as a combination and that prevents anyone from putting up huge numbers. There also are durability issues with Thomas and Bush. I think Thomas is New Orleans’ best all-around running back, but that doesn’t put him near the top 10.
The four-year deal averages $2.8 million per season. To give that some context, let’s go back and look at last year’s average-per-year amounts for all NFL running backs. Thomas’ new deal would rank No. 24 in the league, just behind Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart and slightly ahead of LaDainian Tomlinson and Fred Taylor.
The Saints didn’t give Thomas a signing bonus, but they structured the deal to include something similar. Thomas’ $640,000 base salary for this season is guaranteed, and he’ll also get a $2.7 million roster bonus. Unlike a lot of deals, this one isn’t back loaded. Thomas’ biggest salary-cap hit will come this year when his figure is $3.4 million.
In 2012, Thomas’ base salary will jump to $2.16 million and $860,000 of that is guaranteed. He also has a $100,00 workout bonus, and his cap figure will be $2.6 million.
In 2013, Thomas’ base salary will be $2.1 million. He’ll also have a $300,000 roster bonus and a $100,000 workout bonus. His cap figure will be $2.5 million.
In 2014, the base salary will be $2.5 million. Thomas has a $300,000 roster bonus and a $100,000 workout bonus. His cap figure will be $2.9 million.
The deal also includes escalators in each of the final three years that could boost Thomas’ base salaries.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees won the Good Guy Award for the player who is most helpful to the media.
"I am honored to be recognized by the Professional Football Writers with their annual Good Guy Award," Brees said. “The media is our strongest connection to our fans and it is important that we make ourselves available and be accountable when the time calls for us to meet with the media. The media tell our story and I recognize the important job that they have. Joining a select group of previous winners such as Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, LaDainian Tomlinson, Tiki Barber and Jerome Bettis shows that it is not only important to lead on the field like these guys have, but also to lead off of it as well.”
The other winner also is from New Orleans. Peter Finney has won the McCann Award, for long and distinguished service to the media. Finney is a long-time columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and one of the finest gentlemen in the business.
Finney has been covering sports in the New Orleans area for 64 years. He covered 40 straight Super Bowls after missing the first two because his editor at the time thought the game was “just a fad."
Finney also represents the New Orleans market on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s board of selectors and was responsible for successfully presenting Rickey Jackson’s case for election. Jackson will be inducted in August.
- New Orleans coach Sean Payton spoke at the combine and said the Saints will be keeping Reggie Bush. That’s what we’ve been saying here for months, even though there’s been speculation elsewhere that Bush could be a casualty because of his high salary. Payton also didn’t make it sound like the team was ready to pounce on free-agent running back LaDainian Tomlinson.
- Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards is throwing at the combine, but he’s not running because of a hamstring injury. That could hurt him some because a lot of teams think Edwards’ future may be as a receiver or return man.
- USC tight end Anthony McCoy told the media at the combine he wants to be better than Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez. Good luck with that.
- Although the common assumption is the Falcons will take a defensive lineman or defensive back at No. 19, Mark Bradley wonders if they’d be able to pass over Clemson running back C.J. Spiller if he’s available. Good question. Spiller’s something of a local guy. The Falcons have Michael Turner, but backup Jerious Norwood never has played to his potential. This is a move the Falcons could consider.
Pat Yasinskas: Robbie, I was one of those analysts that thought signing Carr was a great move when the Panthers did it. I thought there was a chance he could even become the long-term starter. Truth is, he still was shell-shocked from his days with Houston and an injury to Jake Delhomme forced the Panthers to play him sooner than they wanted. That turned into a disaster. I was only having a little fun with John Fox and Marty Hurney. They’re two men I’ve covered for a long time and I respect them both. But, like any other, coach or general manager in the league, it’s my job to point out their successes and their failures. The Carr signing was not a success for the Panthers.
Tony in Lakeland, Fla., writes: My question is now that Dunta Robinson is set to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent, do you think Tampa will make a run at him? I think this guy could excel in a Tampa Two defense where there isn’t so much pressure on him.
Pat Yasinskas: With any free agent, we can only speculate until we find out what teams are doing when free agency starts in March. But I like your thoughts on Robinson. I think he could succeed in Raheem Morris’ defense. The Bucs need another corner to go with Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber, who isn’t getting any younger. Robinson makes some sense. We’ll see if the Bucs agree and if they’re interested in the price tag that comes with him.
Brett in Dallas writes: I wanted to get your opinion on the possibility of the Falcons signing either Brian Westbrook or Aaron Kampman. Westbrook could work out for the Falcons in the role that Jerious Norwood couldn’t and it might be good to give him a one year contract to see. Also Aaron Kampman belongs in a 4-3 and fits the character mold and work ethic that the Falcons look for.
Pat Yasinskas: I thought Brian Westbrook was a heck of a player in Philadelphia. But I think he now is either at or near the end of his career. The Falcons likely will keep Jason Snelling and Norwood as restricted free agents and the backups for Michael Turner. Atlanta’s not a team looking for patchwork. If they do anything at running back, I think the Falcons will go with someone younger. As far as Kampman, I won't totally rule that one out. Yeah, I just said the Falcons aren't looking for patchwork, but defensive end is one position where I could see them making an exception. They need help in the pass rush right away and it sometimes takes time for a rookie pass rusher to develop.
Shannon in Baton Rouge writes: Any chance the Saints go after LaDainian Tomlinson? He and Drew Brees are friends and it seems like it would work.
Pat Yasinskas: This is kind of like the Westbrook question above. Tomlinson isn’t the player he once was. Would the current Tomlinson really add much to the Saints, a team that’s not going to go crazy running the ball? I don’t think so. I’d stick with the combination of Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush. But, hey, Brees has a lot of power in New Orleans. If he really wants to play with his old buddy, he might get some people to listen.
If you just want the highlights, Bradley asked about all the speculation about the Saints perhaps pursuing LaDainian Tomlinson (I said I don’t think that’s a good idea). We also chatted about Darren Sharper and the large crop of restricted free agents the Saints will have.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Long ago, I learned not to read too much into preseason games. I saw Tampa Bay teams coached by Sam Wyche look good in the preseason and then hit double-digit losses in the regular season.
But I am going to take one thing seriously out of Saturday night's preseason game between the Falcons and Chargers. That's the Atlanta defense.
It didn't look good at all and that's a growing reason for concern. We all knew the Falcons would be entering this season with five new starters on defense and that means there is going to be some transition.
But shouldn't we be seeing some positive signs by now? Probably. But we haven't. In the only preseason game that really matters (because the starters play a fair amount), Atlanta's defense struggled. Yes, San Diego has a good offense, but LaDainian Tomlinson wasn't even playing. It didn't matter because the Chargers barely ran the ball.
They were throwing it and throwing it very well. In the first half, the Chargers had somewhere around 250 passing yards. That's not good news for any defense and every offensive coordinator the Falcons face in the regular season will be watching the video blueprint of how to carve up Atlanta's defense.
The Falcons aren't going to go out and blow up their defense at the end of the preseason. They're going with what they've got and that's a little scary. They could have gone out and grabbed some blue-chip defensive backs in the offseason. But they didn't.
They're going with Brent Grimes and Chris Houston as their starting cornerbacks and Erik Coleman and Thomas DeCoud as their starting safeties, for better or worse. If the Falcons are going to make the best of this, they need to do some of the same things they do with their offensive line. They don't have a tremendous amount of talent there, but they make the most of it because they hide their weaknesses.
They need to do the same thing with the secondary. The best way to do that is with a pass rush. They've got an elite rusher in John Abraham, but they need more than that. They need third-year pro Jamaal Anderson to step up from the very start of the season. Anderson was a top 10 pick in 2007 and he'll be on the bench if he doesn't start quickly.
The Falcons have Chauncey Davis, Lawrence Sidbury and Kroy Biermann as alternatives to Anderson. One, or some combination, of all those defensive ends will have to step up or the secondary really might be in trouble.
|Crystal LoGiudice/US Presswire|
|Versatile running back Reggie Bush may be ahead of his time.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
They are not the same guy.
If you still want to compare Bush to someone, stay in the Gulf Coast region, but switch sports. Think basketball. Think Pete Maravich.
Think about guys who were, depending how you look at it, either on the cutting edge or ahead of their times. About 40 years and a sport apart, Bush and Maravich might have a lot more in common than you think.
I picked up a copy of Mark Kriegel's fine book "Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich'' in the Tampa airport before I flew to New Orleans for Saints minicamp last week. I was somewhat intrigued because I have some vague memories of Maravich playing in the NBA in the mid-1970s when I first became interested in sports. I kind of recalled that Maravich had been a pretty good player at Louisiana State.
Kriegel filled me in on the rest and it was a lot. The short version of it is that, back in the late 1960s, Maravich introduced basketball to a region that only had known football. Maravich made passes behind his back, dribbled between his legs and averaged around 45 points in his college career. He set himself up for a high draft selection and a contract that seemed absurd at the time. Although Maravich had a very good NBA career (including a stint with the New Orleans Jazz), the tragic undertone of the book is that he was born 10 or 15 years too soon.
The suggestion is, had Maravich played in the NBA in the glory days of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, his talents might have been fully appreciated because they would have fit the time frame. Instead, Maravich never quite lived up to the hype and expectations that followed him out of college.
That's where Bush comes in. When he came out of USC as the No. 2 overall pick in 2006, the natural assumption was that Bush would run for 1,500 yards a season because that's what great running backs are supposed to do. Instead, Bush has run for 1,550 yards -- in three seasons.
But let's not go calling Bush a "bust" because he hasn't run for 1,500 yards a season. There's still time for him to be a whole lot more.
"I think the direction where the NFL is headed toward, you don't see those type of running backs anymore,'' Bush said between minicamp practices Saturday. "You see guys splitting time. Guys who are able to play running back and multiple positions. I think those days of the one-running back system are over.''
Think about it a bit and look around the NFL. The days of the Saints giving the ball to McAllister up the gut 25 or 30 times a game are over in New Orleans. They may be over in a lot of places. Look at Carolina's "Double Trouble'' with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart or Tennessee's "Smash and Dash'' with LenDale White and Chris Johnson.
Maybe Bush is right. Maybe this is a turning point in the NFL, a time when running backs don't have to fit the profile of Earl Campbell or Jerome Bettis.
"I hear it debated about because I think the framework of how people try to fix the position and we don't have to worry about that,'' Saints coach Sean Payton said. "Since he's been here, we've changed a lot in how we move the football. The most important thing is, are we scoring points and are we moving the football? If the answer is yes to that and he's a big part of that, then all that other stuff will sort itself out.''
There are some people who will say Bush isn't a true running back and can't run between the tackles. Let's get this out of the way now because Bush resents that.
"I can run the ball between the tackles,'' Bush said. "Anybody can run the ball between the tackles. I don't feel like that is going to make me or break me. I don't feel like running the ball between the tackles is going to win us the Super Bowl or help me win the MVP. It's being versatile, being able to run the ball between the tackles, outside the tackles, returning punts, catching the ball out of the backfield and catching the ball down the field. That's what I do. That's who I am.''
Maybe, just maybe, Bush realizes who he is before the rest of the world. He's right about the versatility thing. Think about it -- there have been running backs who could catch the ball out of the backfield (LaDainian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk for example) and running backs who could return punts (Gale Sayers).
But has there ever been a running back who could line up at receiver and beat just about any cornerback in the league, who could return two punts (almost three in one half against Minnesota last year) and run inside and outside the tackles?
Go ahead and say Bush is less than a running back. I say he's more than a running back.
Give him a full and healthy season. Bush missed six games last year and four in 2007 because of injury. As a rookie, he sat a lot because of McAllister.
"(The coaches) know I can run the ball between the tackles,'' Bush said. "That's not a question. It's just a matter of me staying healthy. I think that's more of the question.''
Give him a full season of Pierre Thomas sharing the duties at running back. Give him a full season with quarterback Drew Brees. Give him a full season with Payton, who just might be the most progressive offensive mind in the league. And give him a season where the New Orleans' defense gets off the field every now and then.
Let it all come together and let Bush be Bush. Maybe then Bush can avoid the same fate as Maravich. Maybe Bush isn't too late or too early. Maybe Bush has arrived at just the right time to redefine the game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
The New Orleans Saints are the next stop in our series of team-by-team mailbags.
Cory in Dallas, TX writes: Pat, here we go again. I emailed you last week and you posted it about the rumor of LT coming to the Saints. I initially thought it was bogus. But, a part of me was excited and quite frankly, hopeful. Now there are stories all over the web about Drew talking to LT about the possibility of him playing in New Orleans. I just want to know what your take on all this is. Obviously we would have to drop some players to make room (Jason David hopefully). Just need to know if it I should hold my breath.
Pat Yasinskas: The latest news on the LaDainian Tomlinson saga is that he still is talking to the Chargers about restructuring his contract. But, if those talks blow up, I think New Orleans is a logical landing spot. We all know about his connection to Drew Brees and the fact the Saints need some consistency in the running game. My only word of caution is that, if Tomlinson comes, he might not carry the Saints straight to the Super Bowl. He's got some mileage on him and is not the same player he was a few years ago. I think he can be a nice role player if he can be added at a reasonable price. But the bottom line is the Saints have to keep fixing up their defense if they're really going to be a contender.
Kenny in Biloxi,MS writes: What about the Saints adding a veteran receiver like M. Harrison?
Pat Yasinskas: Marvin Harrison is a great receiver, who can still bring leadership and experience wherever he goes. But I'm not sure the Saints really need him. I think New Orleans has the potential to have one of the league's best receiving corps. Marques Colston and Lance Moore are two very good starters. Devery Henderson is a nice deep threat and he made big strides with his overall game last year. The two wildcards here are the young receivers, Robert Meachem and Adrian Arrington. Meachem has struggled in his first two seasons, but still has lots of potential. Arrington was having a very nice rookie preseason before he got hurt. If those two guys can play up to their potential, the Saints have all the receivers they'll need.
Brandon in Lafayette writes: What are the chances that teams ask Roy Williams to change positions from saftie to olb and what are the chances the Saints would be interested in a move like this?
Pat Yasinskas: That's a theory that's been thrown around with Roy Williams before and I think some teams would consider it. But I think the Saints are in decent shape at linebacker. I think safety is a much bigger need and Williams, who is not good in coverage, doesn't fit that need. I think the Saints have to go out and get a free safety who can make some big plays. That's their No. 1 need right now.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
I dialed Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc., and asked for his thoughts on how Tomlinson might fit in New Orleans.
"That situation would be interesting because they already have two guys established in place,'' Williamson said. "Pierre Thomas is pretty good and can carry a good load. Reggie Bush is going to get his 10 touches or somewhere around that. I like Tomlinson's knowledge of the passing game and he could help make a very good passing game even better. You could get both Tomlinson and Bush on the field in some passing situations. Put Bush in the slot and mix Tomlinson into the backfield and that's a pretty nice combination with the wide receivers they already have.''
But Williamson isn't sold that New Orleans is the perfect spot for Tomlinson.
"I don't know if he wants to be a spot player,'' Williamson said. "I don't think he's a difference maker at this point. Would they be a better football team with him? Yes, but I really don't think he's a difference maker.''
Williamson pointed to Tomlinson's production last season. He carried a career-low 292 times and averaged 3.6 yards per carry during a season in which he was banged up.
"The thing we don't know is just how hurt he was last year,'' Williamson said. "The Chargers know and he knows. But the rest of us don't and there's no way to find out. If wasn't hurt that bad, then he's done because he didn't show much of anything last year. If he was pretty hurt, then there's a chance to get back to what he was. But I don't think he'll ever be the Tomlinson of old.''