For the better part of a decade, there was no disputing LaDainian Tomlinson’s importance to the San Diego Chargers. He was the bell cow running back for the team with an adept ability to catch passes out of the backfield and throw a few, too. The days of running, catching, and throwing may clearly be behind LT now, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still have an impact on how the club fares in 2013.
At the Bolts training camp as a part of his new coverage gig with NFL Network, San Diego had their former great speak to the team at the request of new head coach Mike McCoy. As a vocal leader who always wore his heart on his sleeve, Tomlinson’s words figure to inspire some big performances out of the team this season. According to LT, he told the team to ignore the outside media perceptions of the team:
“And don’t worry about what everybody’s saying in terms of where the Chargers are going to finish in the AFC West. It really depends on what they want out of themselves and if they commit to each other and come to work every single day and think about each other, they will exceed expectations.”
Many are down on the Bolts this coming season as they attempt to rebuild from an era of unfulfilled expectations under former general manager A.J. Smith and former head coach Norv Turner. Those days are gone now with a pair of 40 year-olds in McCoy and GM Tom Telesco at the helm. Arguably one of the best Bolts of all-time is anything but down on the potential this team has heading into 2013 as he said:
“It seems to be a refreshing start. Everything is a new beginning for the Chargers and I think they’re approaching it that way. Obviously the key is the rebound of the offensive line. They have to be able to protect Philip Rivers. Being sacked 49 times last year is way too many for your franchise quarterback. If they can get their offensive line to jell, and if Ryan Mathews can stay healthy and give them some production in the running game, the defense is going to take care of themselves. They’re going to be good.”
It’s odd to say the fortunes of the Chargers will depend on the success of the offense, but that really is the case this coming season. The defense – as LT to aptly said – will take care of itself. The ability to protect Rivers and open up holes for Mathews will be critical to this club finding a rhythm and success. It all starts in the trenches for the Bolts, and that overhauled offensive line will play a big role in their potential this season.
Having a former teammate and franchise great like LT at camp will inspire some good things out of the veterans like Rivers, center Nick Hardwick, and safety Eric Weddle who are now team leaders in San Diego. Hopefully his presence brings out the best in this club, and makes them a team that surprises the pundits in a positive way this coming season.