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Tomlinson already salivating

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 3, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2005/12/03/SPGUMG2G5U1.DTL" target="_blank">San Francisco Chronicle</a>

    <img src="http://www.bolttalk.com/images/chargersvraiders05.jpg" alt="LT" />

    By David Bush

    Chargers fans enjoy watching star running back LaDainian Tomlinson, especially when he plays against the Raiders, as he will Sunday night.

    And Tomlinson said he enjoys watching Chargers fans, especially when the team plays the Raiders
    Raiders followers in Southern California, left behind when the team moved back to the Bay Area a decade ago, have been known to invade Qualcomm Stadium when their heroes take on the Chargers. They are not always welcomed by the hometown rooters and that can lead to some volatile situations. Emotions will be enhanced by the 5:35 p.m. starting time, which gives everybody more time to get their spirits up.

    Tomlinson can't wait.

    "Wow, man, it could be crazy,'' he said in a conference call this week. "The thing about it is while we are out on the field, we are always looking up in the stands during timeout breaks. We're looking around and seeing all these fights. As players, we kind of enjoy that.''

    As charter members of the American Football League, the Raiders and Chargers have been going at one another on the field for the better part of 45 years. But Tomlinson said the enmity in the stands does not drift down to the field.

    "We know those guys pretty good and they know us,'' he said. "We see each other in the offseason and it's not something where you hate the guy. You don't hate anybody that you compete against. I really enjoy the rivalry.''

    As well he should. From his rookie year in 2001, Tomlinson has been nothing but trouble to the Raiders, averaging 125.4 yards in the nine games he has played against them. He has rushed through them for nine touchdowns, caught passes for another two and, in San Diego's win Oct.16 in Oakland, even threw a TD pass.

    "We usually come up with some pretty good games,'' he said blandly. "It seems to really work for us. Any time I step on the field I enjoy playing the game. I just happened to have good games against them.''

    The Raiders of course, aren't alone. Tomlinson has pretty good games against most everyone, having rushed for more than 1,000 yards every year, including this one. And if the fights in the stands don't scare the Raiders, this should. Tomlinson thinks he's better than he was a couple of years ago.

    "Absolutely,'' he said. "One of the main reasons is I am a much smarter player. I recognize what the defense is doing much faster than I did when I first came into the league. I am more comfortable. I can have a presnap read of what is going to happen on this play.''

    Raiders coach Norv Turner said he can see the difference.

    "He had a run against Washington where they were going to run right, the guard pulled right and everyone was going to right and he, out of the corner of his eye, saw the linebacker on his left over play it and he just cut back on his own and made about a 15-yard run,'' Turner said. "If you looked at it you'd say that was a designed play. It wasn't. As a rookie I'm sure he would have done what the coaches said, 'Follow your guard and hit up in there and get three yards.' "

    Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer certainly knows what he has.

    "I would make a case that he's been that way for the past three or four years, as I've watched him day in and day out," Schottenheimer said. "He has the ability from an instinct standpoint to feel where a hole is going to be even before it shows up there.

    "Marcus Allen told me, 'Coach, when you're running the football, you're not looking at the people who are right in front of you. Because you've made your decision relative to where you're going with those people. It's the people who are in the second level, is the people that you need to know where they are.'

    "I found it interesting. And I think that's true of great runners.''

    Briefly: The Raiders have placed guard Langston Walker, who sustained an abdominal injury Oct. 23, on injured reserve, and activated defensive tackle Antaj Hawthorne, their sixth round draft choice this year, from the practice squad. ...Brad Badger, who has been bothered by a knee strain, made it through Friday's practice. Nevertheless Turner said Jake Grove is the likely starter at left guard.
     

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