SAN DIEGO -- Older, sorer and wiser.
A year after pushing his injured knee a little too hard in practice and then paying for it during the AFC championship game, LaDainian Tomlinson plans to be more cautious about his groin injury going into Saturday's home wild-card playoff game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
Tomlinson sat out practice Wednesday and plans to take it easy Thursday.
"It's a lot better than Monday," Tomlinson said. "After two days of resting it, it feels a lot better, so I'm hoping on Saturday it'll be even better."
Tomlinson had his first three-touchdown performance of the season in Sunday night's 52-21 rout of the Denver Broncos that delivered the AFC West title to the Chargers (8-8). But he strained his groin and sat out the fourth quarter.
A year ago, Tomlinson hurt his left knee in a divisional-round playoff upset against the Colts, then pushed it a little harder than he should have in practice the following week. He was sorer than the team let on going into the AFC championship game at New England, then aggravated the injury and sat out most of the 21-12 loss to the Patriots.
"I probably won't do too much," Tomlinson said about Thursday's practice. "I really think that was part of it for me last year, was trying to push it that day in practice so it got sore the next day. I'd rather push it in the game and then let it be sore the next day."
Tomlinson said he's not frustrated having this injury right before the playoffs.
"Football is a game of impact and it's a contact sport and people are going to get hurt. Fortunately I've spoiled everyone by being healthy most of my career. But that's the way it is, and I get older, something I'm going to have to deal with is injuries."
Just like last season.
Tomlinson said his knee was sorer than he and the team admitted going into the New England game.
"But that's always part of it. You never want to give the other team the knowledge of how healthy or unhealthy you may be," he said.
Even after Tomlinson knew he couldn't go back into the game, the team continued with the gamesmanship, announcing that L.T. had a "sore knee" and "can return."
What he wished he hadn't done was push it in practice on the Thursday of that week. "Then I was sore on that Friday," he said. "That was my decision to go out and practice because I felt like I could. I felt good. But going out there and doing that cutting and stuff, I probably should have waited. That hurt me in the end."
Also Wednesday, the Chargers said they'll wear their alternate powder blue jerseys against the Colts after retrieving them just before they were to be auctioned off for charity.
The Chargers wore the alternate jerseys on Dec. 4 against Oakland, then sent them to the NFL offices in New York, where they were to be auctioned off for charity on the league's Web site. But team official A.G. Spanos, grandson of owner Alex Spanos, said the Chargers were able to get them back just before they hit the auction site.
The jerseys are to go back to the NFL after the game to be auctioned off.
"It's what everybody wants and we're going to look sweet on Saturday night," Tomlinson said.