Tomlinson Low-Key About Playing Falcons

Wednesday, October 13th 2004, 8:22 pm
By: News On 6

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ If LaDainian Tomlinson is excited about his first game against Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons, he sure wasn't showing it on Wednesday.

The two stars will always be linked because Atlanta took Vick with the top pick in the 2001 draft after obtaining it from San Diego for the fifth pick, which the Chargers used on Tomlinson. The Chargers also got receiver Tim Dwight and other picks.

``Like I've said all along, I play a different position than Mike,'' Tomlinson said. ``It just happened that it worked out the way it did. It wasn't like I was going to go to Atlanta. It worked out well.''

San Diego visits Atlanta on Sunday.

Tomlinson said he'll occasionally watch an opposing quarterback.

``Mostly it's not just watching them as far as being in awe, it's just kind of hoping the defense stops them and we get the ball back,'' the running back said.

Asked if he'll watch Vick a little bit more than he would another quarterback, he said: ``Nah. I mean, it's just going to be like a regular game.''

Tomlinson sat out Wednesday's practice after reaggravating a groin injury in Sunday's 34-21 win over Jacksonville. He expects to play Sunday.

Tomlinson said the trade worked out well for the Chargers and the Falcons.

``I don't think that there is anybody who can really argue what we've done for our teams, and I think it's only going to get better,'' he said.

As for Vick, ``I really do appreciate what he's able to do,'' Tomlinson said. ``It's hard to just talk about how much of a freak of nature he is, but it is what it is.''

While Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer considers Tomlinson the best running back he's ever seen, he noted that Vick led the Falcons into the playoffs two seasons ago, won three of five games last year after he returned from a broken leg and has won four out of five this year.

``That speaks well,'' Schottenheimer said. ``That's what quarterbacks are all about. I'd say both teams prospered quite well from the trade.''

Tomlinson has been sensational in his four NFL seasons, but the Chargers haven't, going 20-33 in that span and extending their playoff drought to eight seasons. They are off to a promising 3-2 start this year.

Tomlinson owns the Chargers' franchise rushing record with 5,035 yards and has scored 41 rushing touchdowns. He's also caught 253 passes for 1,754 and five touchdowns.

Quarterback Drew Brees, who's played well in two straight wins, was also taken by the Chargers in the 2001 draft, with the first pick of the second round.

``I think the majority of the people are going to say 'Hey, this is the blockbuster trade, Michael Vick-LaDainian Tomlinson deal,''' Brees said. ``I'm just along for the ride.''

Brees has thrown for 417 yards and five touchdowns in the last two games, completing 72 percent of his passes (33-of-46), with no interceptions.