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Chargers GM Smith reaches out to Tomlinson

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. robdog
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    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=txchargerstomlinson&amp;prov=st&amp;type=lgns" target="_blank">PA SportsTicker</a>

    <a href="http://i1.chargers.com/assets/177/32913_699w393h.jpg"><img class="alignright" title="A.J. Smith" src="http://i1.chargers.com/assets/177/32913_699w393h.jpg" alt="" width="203" height="226" /></a>SAN DIEGO (TICKER) -After being called out by his star linebacker, San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith contacted LaDainian Tomlinson to straighten out the comments he made to a local newspaper.

    On Monday, three-time Pro Bowler Shawne Merriman told the San Diego Union-Tribune the back-and-forth between Smith and Tomlinson needed to stop.

    Merriman was referring to Smith's comments to the newspaper last week, in which he mocked Tomlinson.

    Last week, Tomlinson posted a statement on his personal web site saying he wants to end his career with the Chargers, who drafted the star running back fifth overall in 2001.

    Smith responded by publicly mocking Tomlinson's statement verbatim the following day.

    After Merriman's comments, Smith called Tomlinson on Monday to clear the air.

    "It was important to me that L.T. know exactly what happened," Smith said. "I just answered a question and unfortunately my response was inappropriate.

    "After reading my response to the question, I can see why it was interpreted the way it was. "I absolutely meant no disrespect toward L.T. - none. I have the utmost respect for him on two fronts, as a player and as a person."

    Smith said it was a "great talk," and Tomlinson echoed those sentiments.

    "It was great to hear from him," said Tomlinson, a five-time Pro Bowler. "It really went well. It's always better talking directly to someone one-on-one. He was very upbeat and very sincere. He felt bad about what had happened."

    The whole situation started because Tomlinson felt the need to express his feelings about possibly playing in different uniform. Rumors have been circulating that the Chargers will ask him to take a pay cut, or possibly release him.

    The issue has come up because Tomlinson, the face of the franchise, is inching closer to 30 years old - the age when the health and skills of most running backs traditionally decline.

    Tomlinson, who is under contract through 2011, will turn 30 in June and is scheduled to count $8.8 million against the salary cap in 2009. The eight-year veteran has been slowed by injuries the last two seasons, which has added fuel to the fire.

    He missed the Chargers' two playoff games with a torn adductor (groin) muscle and also sat out most of last year's AFC championship game vs. New England with a sprained MCL.

    Chargers owner Dean Spanos said last week that the team "can't let our emotions taint our decisions" regarding Tomlinson's future.

    Tomlinson surpassed 1,000 yards for the eighth consecutive season, but was held to a career-low 1,110 yards on 292 carries, also the fewest of his career.

    The emergence of Darren Sproles is one reason the Chargers may feel Tomlinson is expendable, though Smith recently said he doesn't view the 5-6, 181-pound Sproles as an every-down back.

    A pending free agent, Sproles rushed for 115 yards in the Chargers' 52-21 playoff-clinching victory over Denver. He added 105 yards in a 23-17 overtime win over Indianapolis in a wild card playoff game, but was held to 15 yards on 11 carries in the AFC championship game loss to Pittsburgh.

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