Tomlinson makes 1st exhibition appearance since 2005 in loss

SAN DIEGO -- LaDainian Tomlinson got his wish -- a handful of carries in August.

The San Diego Chargers' star running back played in an exhibition game for the first time since 2005, carrying four times for 10 yards and catching one pass from Philip Rivers for 8 yards in the Chargers' 20-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night.

After two series Tomlinson was back on the sideline, where he normally can be found during exhibition games.

The Seahawks, playing their first game under coach Jim Mora, took advantage of three straight turnovers by Chargers third-string quarterback Charlie Whitehurst in the second half to take control of what had been a ho-hum game. Whitehurst threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, leading to 10 points for Seattle.

"I thought it was a good start for our football team ... a lot of good things and a lot of things that we can build upon," Mora said.

Tomlinson, who turned 30 in June, said he and coach Norv Turner agreed it wasn't a bad idea for the ninth-year pro to see some action.

"For his timing and being with the offensive line, it's good for him," Turner said. "I know it's good for us."

Tomlinson, who nearly became a salary-cap casualty in the offseason before agreeing to a reworked contract, said his getting into an early rhythm can only help the Chargers. They've had slow starts the last two seasons.

"We both feel like it will help us get into a better start when the season begins," Tomlinson said. "I was just starting to feel it out and it was over. I wanted to get more carries, but I understand what we are trying to accomplish."

Tomlinson had gotten used to not even suiting up for exhibition games, which are largely meaningless, even though fans pay regular-season prices. His last previous appearance in one was Aug. 21, 2005, when he scored on a 55-yard run on his only carry of the game against the St. Louis Rams.

First Marty Schottenheimer and then Turner chose not to expose L.T. to the possibility of getting hurt before the games started counting.

Tomlinson, the NFL's MVP in 2006, hurt his right big toe in last year's opener. He injured his groin in the regular-season finale, was limited in a wild-card playoff win against Indianapolis and didn't play in a divisional-round loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh. It was the first time he missed a game due to injury.

Neither first-team offense scored Saturday night.

Chargers second-string quarterback Billy Volek led a second-quarter scoring drive capped by Michael Bennett's 2-yard run. The Seahawks tied it when Seneca Wallace lobbed a 3-yard pass over the defense to John Owens in the right corner of the end zone late in the quarter.

Whitehurst had the ball knocked out of his hands by Baraka Atkins, with rookie Derek Walker recovering. That led to rookie Mike Teel's 18-yard TD pass to Mike Hass.

Whitehurst threw passes right at Kelly Jennings and then rookie Nick Reed, with the second pickoff setting up a 38-yard field goal by Brandon Coutu. Coutu added another 38-yarder midway through the fourth quarter.

Reed also had a sack.

"Nick Reed is a playmaker," Mora said. "It was good to see him show up. I had a feeling he would, and make some plays."

Whitehurst threw a 5-yard TD pass to Legedu Naanee late in the game.

Seattle's Jon Ryan had a 77-yard punt in the closing minutes.

Seattle's first-round draft pick, outside linebacker Aaron Curry, had two tackles. San Diego outside linebacker Shawne Merriman played for the first time since having knee surgery following last year's regular-season opener.

Curry said one of the assistant coaches told him to settle down.

"I have to work on my patience. My patience is going to be key," Curry said. "There were some plays today where I was just running around not in the place where I should have been. I have to let things slow down."

Merriman said he felt OK.

"They ran the damn ball away from me the whole time, so that was not too good," Merriman said. "I played OK, though."

The game was blacked out in San Diego's TV market, the first time an exhibition game didn't sell out since 2006. The Chargers say there could be regular-season blackouts, too.

Game notes
The Chargers reported the following injuries: starting right guard Kynan Forney, neck; S Steve Gregory, ribs; DT Ian Scott, knee; WR Craig Davis, thigh; LB Brandon Siler, hamstring; P Mike Scifres, groin. ... Mora said the Seahawks didn't have any serious injuries.

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