LaDainian Tomlinson's shoes may be too big for Ryan Mathews to fill

By Kenny Gardner
LaDainian Tomlinson San Diego Chargers
Jake Roth-USA Today Sports

LaDainian Tomlinson is the greatest player to ever put on a San Diego Chargers jersey.

In nine seasons with San Diego, Tomlinson was a five time Pro Bowler, a four time All-Pro, led the NFL in rushing touchdowns three times, led the league in rushing yards twice and won the 2006 NFL MVP award.

Tomlinson ranks second in NFL history with 145 rushing touchdowns, third in total touchdowns by a non-quarterback with 162 and fifth all-time with 13,684 rushing yards. After a disappointing 2009 season, Tomlinson parted ways with San Diego and signed with the New York Jets. He played two seasons with New York before signing a contact with San Diego and retiring as a Charger.

Tomlinson’s replacement following the 2009 season was 2010 first round pick Ryan Mathews. San Diego completed a trade with the Miami Dolphins to move up from 28th to 12th in order to select Mathews. Mathews is injury-prone because he missed five games as a sophomore in 2008 with a knee injury, missed four games as a rookie in 2010, missed two games last season and missed four games in 2012. Tomlinson, on the other hand, missed three games in nine seasons with the Lighting Bolts.

Mathews has 2,476 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns, averaged 65.2 yards per game and averaged 4.4 yards per attempt through three seasons.

Tomlinson had 4,564 rushing yards, 42 touchdowns, averaged 95.1 yards per game and 4.5 yards per attempt through his first three seasons.

Mathews broke his collarbone against the Carolina Panthers three weeks ago. He should be able to work out in a few weeks because this happened to him in August and he was out for six weeks. LT is one of the greatest running backs in NFL history and the pressure to fill his shoes may be too much for Mathews to handle.

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