SAN DIEGO - LaDainian Tomlinson has a sprained ligament in his left knee but won’t need surgery.
However, the superstar running back took a hit to his image during Sunday’s loss to the perfect New England Patriots, simply because of the way the truth sometimes takes a beating in the way NFL teams release news about injuries.
Tomlinson missed Wednesday’s practice but worked out the rest of the week and wasn’t mentioned on Friday’s injury report. He hurt his left knee against the Colts, with the team saying then it was hyperextended, Tomlinson said after Sunday’s game that he has a sprained medial collateral ligament.
Tomlinson said he re-injured the knee when he was hit on the first play from scrimmage against the Patriots. He carried only twice, both in the opening drive. He caught a short screen pass the following series before retiring to the sideline for good, with more than 9:45 left in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, it was announced in the press box that Tomlinson had a “sore knee” and that he “can return.”
Tomlinson is one of the humblest players in all of pro sports. He was the NFL’s MVP in 2006 and has won two straight league rushing titles. Yet his toughness was questioned by fans and TV commentators alike, including former star cornerback Deion Sanders of the NFL Network.
Sanders said he was under the impression that Tomlinson was close to 100 percent. “I have expectations, and when you don’t meet my expectations, you open yourself for us to try to guess,” Sanders said. “Now what’s the problem? You’re a big-time player. And big-time players must play big-time games.”
Sanders also said he thought Tomlinson’s injury would need to warrant a surgery “for him to get a pass on this one.”
Tomlinson didn’t appreciate hearing that.
“He’s never been a running back and had a sprained MCL,” Tomlinson said. “You tell me what running back has played with a sprained MCL and been effective. You might go out there and try to limp around and play, but it’s not going to happen. I don’t know how information gets passed on, but until you talk to the source of the problem, what’s going on with me, I think it’s ridiculous when people make comments like that.”
Tomlinson said he understands that teams don’t like to let opponents know what’s going on, and that it might lead to players’ toughness being questioned.
Tomlinson said he wasn’t aware of the information that had been announced to the media.
“Well, I don’t know how they got that. I didn’t tell them that,” he said.
On Sunday, Chargers spokesman Bill Johnston declined to clarify where the optimistic update on Tomlinson’s injury came from.
“There was some miscommunication on whatever happens in the heat of the game,” coach Norv Turner said Monday. “But shortly after the first quarter, I was not of the opinion that he would return to the game.
Tomlinson said he knew he was done when he didn’t have his usual explosiveness after catching the screen pass.
“If I would have played, I clearly wouldn’t have been effective,” he said. “My thinking also was, a 100-percent Michael Turner and Darren Sproles was way better than a 50-percent me. It just didn’t make sense for me to try to play.”
Tomlinson said he’ll probably sit out the Pro Bowl.
CSN: Brian Urlacher, who played 13 seasons for the Bears, announced his retirement from football Wenesday on his personal twitter account.
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