- Aug 18, 2005
SAN DIEGO ---- Running back LaDainian Tomlinson hasn't caught a pass this season. So Monday, he rifled a hard one toward the Chargers' brass.
Measuring his words carefully, but determined to deliver his point, Tomlinson expressed his unhappiness in the winless Chargers' baffling offensive game plan.
"I'm a competitive person,'' said Tomlinson, who's been restricted to 19 carries in each of the Chargers' two season-opening losses. "I feel like I can do more.''
With more than his rushing, Tomlinson said, as the two-time Pro Bowler's hands are as reliable as his feet.
He proved it two years ago when he became the first back to rush for 1,000 yards and collect a franchise-high 100 receptions.
But he hasn't been on the receiving end of a Drew Brees offering yet this season despite career numbers of 291 receptions for 2,022 yards and six touchdowns.
"I want to be utilized a little bit more than I am,'' said Tomlinson, who's rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns in 2005.
Tomlinson has averaged nearly 73 catches in his first four years.
"Just use me like they have been using me,'' he said. "I'm more than just a ball-carrier, but I don't want this to seem like I'm complaining about not getting the ball.
"I've had the ball 19 times the past two games and any time you get the ball that much, you got to be able to make something happen and I just haven't done it.''
The unspoken goal of the offense ---- in the past ---- is getting Tomlinson 30 touches a game, either running or receiving.
This time last year, he had 45 rushes (208 yards, two TDs) and six catches (72 yards, with a long of 59).
Coach Marty Schottenheimer explained that defenses have restricted Tomlinson from the passing game. With rivals consistently blitzing, Schottenheimer said it's more critical for Tomlinson to block.
"What we are getting is considerable man-to-man coverage and there is pressure,'' he said. "And protection in the passing game comes first.''
How about swinging Tomlinson something quick in the flat? Lining him out wide? A scheme that gets the best Chargers back ever ---- with a career-high 13 receptions in a game ---- in a mismatch with a defender.
"I'm so used to catching some balls out of the backfield,'' Tomlinson said. "And even in a game like (Sunday), they were playing well against the run. I would have liked to have my opportunity to go up against (safety John) Lynch and some of the linebackers, running routes out of the backfield.''
Tomlinson doesn't approach offensive coordinator Cam Cameron during games. Instead, he hopes his number is called.
"We just didn't get around to doing it,'' Tomlinson said, of not being in Sunday's passing game. "I'm not blaming anyone; it's hard to call plays and make things work.''
Schottenheimer doesn't allow assistant coaches to talk, so Cameron can't explain his reluctance to fling it to Tomlinson, the team's second-leading receiver last year.
"I'm a competitive person, I think you all know that,'' Tomlinson said. "Myself, I feel like I can do more. But at the same time we do have other players on the team that can make plays.''
Wide receiver Keenan McCardell is the only one with production. He has a team-best 13 catches for two scores ---- the only Charger other than Tomlinson with a touchdown.
"I just feel like there is more things we can do, so why not try them?'' Tomlinson asked. "I know myself and I'm saying I want to do more.''
A curious Tomlinson hopes his words turn into work.
"I've just been kind of going with the flow and seeing what's going to happen,'' he said.
What needs to transpire is the last place Chargers locating the plus column. While claiming the button labeled panic isn't engaged, there's no discounting the importance of Sunday night's game with an improved Giants team.
"No doubt there is a sense of urgency and I think everyone feels it,'' Tomlinson said. "And we got to do a better job, plain and simple.''
CHARGERS NOTES ---- DE Jacques Cesaire (elbow) could have his practice time compromised this week; no word on his Sunday availability. ... DE Igor Olshansky (leg) and WR Vincent Jackson (calf) should practice Wednesday after not playing in Denver. .... Coach Marty Schottenheimer said they'll be no changes on the struggling offensive line. LG Toniu Fonoti, who was playing with a broken right hand, was benched in Sunday's fourth quarter for his play.