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News » L.T. 'happy' to still be with Chargers

L.T. 'happy' to still be with Chargers

L.T. 'happy' to still be with Chargers
SAN DIEGO (AP) - Chargers president Dean Spanos seemed to have the best perspective on the LaDainian Tomlinson saga.

Tomlinson was slowed during the regular season with a toe injury, then hurt his groin in the season finale. He was forced out of an overtime playoff win against the Indianapolis Colts and sat out the playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the first game he'd missed due to injury in his brilliant career.

It was the second straight year his postseason was cut short by injury. That, coupled with the fact Tomlinson turns 30 this summer, raised questions about how long he would be a Charger. The team said it needed salary cap relief in order to sign other players to contract extensions, and it zeroed in on Tomlinson's deal.

While his 1,110 yards rushing were the lowest of his brilliant eight-year career, Tomlinson still finished fourth in the AFC and 10th in the NFL.

Tomlinson had been due $24 million during the next three seasons, including $6,725,000 in 2009. His salary cap number would have been $8.8 million in 2009, including a prorated share of the signing bonus from his 2004 contract.

Tomlinson said he'll get that $6,725,000 in one form or another. He expects a significant roster bonus in March, then said "it gets a little tricky" after that. He did say the contract is structured in a way that he should be able to avoid having to go through a similar scenario next year.


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Asked if he will be taking a pay cut, he said: "I really don't. The only way I do is if I don't produce what I'm expected to produce, and obviously I probably would be released at that point. Pretty much not."

Tomlinson was voted the NFL MVP in 2006, when he set league records with 31 touchdowns - 28 rushing - and 186 points. He also won the first of two straight league rushing titles with a career-high 1,815 yards.

A five-time Pro Bowler, Tomlinson owns or shares 28 team records. The NFL's 14th all-time leading rusher with 11,760 yards, he ranks second all-time in rushing touchdowns (126) and is tied for fourth in total touchdowns (141).

He once spoke about retiring after his contract expired after the 2011 season. Now he's inspired to go after Smith's rushing record, which he estimates could take four to five seasons.

"I think that's something that I've just kind of got a new fire of saying, 'Why not?' If we're winning and winning championships, I do want to play as long as I can and walk away with all the records. That would be a heck of a challenge and I'm up for challenges. I'm certainly going to try to do it."

He said he feels great physically and began working out this week.

"This week was the first week where I first started doing cutting and all those things," he said. "It feels really good to feel strong again."

Tomlinson is eager to get through a season without injuries.

"I get to prove what I'm worth again," he said. "I get to prove to people, and that's the way it's always been for me. I've always enjoyed doing that. I get to do it once again."

Tomlinson knows it would take a special year to come close to what he did in 2006, but he also knows he's not finished.

"I think I will continue to be a very explosive player. You guys saw me last year where I was banged up all year, played with a hurt toe and then obviously with the groin injury. I'll be back to full strength, to being the L.T. that you guys are used to seeing."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 11, 2009

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Tyronne Gross Name: Tyronne Gross
Position: RB
Age: 25
Experience: 1 years
College: Eastern Oregon
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