Tomlinson wearing boot on right ankle

Updated: September 16, 2009, 10:18 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- A year ago, fantasy players would have gagged at the sight of LaDainian Tomlinson wearing a protective boot on his right ankle.

It might not be as shocking this year, since his popularity with fantasy geeks has dropped off somewhat. But there he was, limping to the podium for his weekly news conference two days after the season opener.

Tomlinson was one of seven Chargers who didn't practice on Wednesday, when San Diego began preparing for its home opener Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

"I've had it before. It's very common," Tomlinson said. "So I'm not too concerned with it."

How much or if he plays on Sunday remains to be seen. If the Chargers don't want to push it with L.T., they can turn to Darren Sproles and Michael Bennett.

"Nobody wants to be hurt, but I've had some unfortunate things happen," said Tomlinson, who scored a touchdown in San Diego's 24-20 win at Oakland on Monday night, which was a lot closer than most everyone expected. "At the same time, I'm still optimistic about this injury."

Tomlinson said there was no comparison between this injury and the toe and groin injuries that hampered him last year. The groin injury was serious enough to sideline him for San Diego's playoff loss at Pittsburgh, the first time in his brilliant career that he missed a game because of injury.

"I've had ankle sprains throughout my whole life of playing football," he said.

Tomlinson, who had 55 yards on 13 carries Monday night, was hurt while losing a fumble in the first quarter. He played on and off until the fourth quarter. He wasn't on the field on the winning drive, capped by Sproles' 5-yard run with 18 seconds to play.

"Obviously the more I played on it and got hit a couple more times, that's when it really started bothering me toward the end of the game."

Also missing practice were center Nick Hardwick (ankle), rookie right guard Louis Vasquez (knee), left tackle Marcus McNeill (thumb, ankle), defensive tackle Jamal Williams (elbow), linebacker Antwan Applewhite and defensive end Travis Johnson.

The Chargers signed Dennis Norman, who can play both center and guard. He was waived by Jacksonville on Sept. 8, the same day the Jaguars signed guard Kynan Forney, who had been waived by the Chargers.

Scott Mruczkowski, who replaced Vasquez and then Hardwick on Monday night, said he'll start at center.

Hardwick, a Pro Bowler in 2006, was wearing a boot on his left ankle. He declined comment on his status for Sunday.

Defensive end Luis Castillo, who hurt an elbow Monday night, was at practice.

Coach Norv Turner wasn't ready to rule any of the injured players in or out for Sunday.

"Obviously each one of them is a little bit different, but I am confident in most cases," Turner said. "I can answer that a lot better after practice tomorrow. I would expect most of them to participate."

McNeill said he expected to start. He rolled an ankle Monday night but had to stay in the game because the Chargers dressed only seven offensive linemen. He hurt his thumb last week.

"I'm a little beat up, but that's the sport of football," McNeill said.

Asked who was in at left tackle during practice, Turner said: "Well, we just had kind of like in the movies, a stand-in."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press