LT's injury may be more serious

Updated: January 5, 2009, 1:07 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

SAN DIEGO -- LaDainian Tomlinson is perhaps hurt worse than the team is letting on, Darren Sproles is sore from all the running he did in a thrilling wild-card win, and the San Diego Chargers are worried about the weather and the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense.

Still the playoffs march on.

LaDainian Tomlinson

Tomlinson

The Chargers finally jumped above .500 and earned a rematch against the Steelers by outlasting Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 23-17 in overtime Saturday night.

Tomlinson didn't play after scoring on a 3-yard run in the second quarter. He looked uncomfortable standing on the sideline, appearing to have a hard time standing straight up.

Asked about his short-term health, Tomlinson said: "I'm worried about my health. I'm very concerned."

The Chargers continue to say Tomlinson has a strained groin. Reports surfaced Saturday that Tomlinson has a detached tendon.

"It's a strained groin. That's what our medical report is," Chargers coach Norv Turner said.

L.T. postgame interview

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Willie McGinest catches up with LaDainian Tomlinson on the field after the Chargers' OT win over the Colts.

"I don't think it's any worse, but it isn't any better," Turner said. "They said he was pretty sore around that area, probably from compensating for the injury. It was obvious once he got going, to him and to us, that he would not be able to play the way he'd like to. At halftime they worked on him, tried to get him to where he could go in the second half. But it just wasn't going to happen."

A glum Tomlinson didn't clarify the nature of his injury after the win over the Colts.

"It's a medical issue," he said. "That's all I'll say about it. I'm not a doctor, and I'm not going to stand up here and act like one."

Asked if he was advised to have surgery, he said: "I can't answer that."

Is it realistic to think Tomlinson will get better in a week?

"To be honest with you, I don't know," Turner said. "That sounds like the questions I was asking about two hours ago, you know, how much better can he get? Is time the factor? If he didn't play this week, would it be better if we were fortunate enough to win, would it be better in two weeks, where it would give him a realistic chance to be at his best?

"It's not fair to him," Turner added. "He wanted to go. Anyone that questions his mental toughness, his physical toughness, his competitiveness from a year ago, he's one of the great competitors I've been around. We've got to make the right decision and I think LT wants to make the right decision, too, so that's why we'll evaluate as the week goes on."

The Chargers anticipate a cold, hard-hitting divisional-round game Sunday at Pittsburgh.

"That'll be a factor in how you play the game, and when you get in those games, obviously running the ball and playing defense are critical," Turner said.

It will be a rematch of a Steelers win at home Nov. 16. Not only was it the first 11-10 score in NFL history, but it was the first of three straight losses that appeared to all but doom the Chargers.

"We did a great job defensively back there," said Turner, whose team got into the playoffs after winning the AFC West at 8-8. "We gave up a lot of yards, but we had a great goal-line stand and we held them out. We had some missed opportunities on offense.

"As I said before the Indianapolis game, I believe we're a lot better team now than we were six weeks ago or eight weeks ago. So that's going to be a part of it. You're in the playoffs and you're playing a team that's got home-field advantage and is an outstanding team. We're going to have to be at our best."

The Chargers held the Steelers without a touchdown that day, although the officials errantly took away a last-second touchdown by safety Troy Polamalu.

The Chargers fell to 0-13 in regular-season games in Pittsburgh. However, they've won twice there in the playoffs, in a wild-card game in January 1983 and a shocking upset in the AFC Championship Game in January 1995, resulting in the only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

Sproles had 328 all-purpose yards against the Colts, including the winning 22-yard touchdown run in overtime.

"We've got him packed in ice back in the training room right now," Turner said jokingly. "We'll let him out on Friday.

"He was absolutely exhausted," Turner added. "If we gave him the ball one more time, he would have done anything he could to get in the end zone. He's an unbelievable guy and we'll get him a lot of rest this week."

The Chargers may need him again.

Tomlinson missed most of last season's AFC Championship Game with a sprained ligament in his left knee and stood on the sidelines huddled in a parka, wearing his helmet with a tinted visor. Some people criticized Tomlinson's toughness then, but the Chargers themselves had provided an optimistic update on his injury, announcing in the press box that Tomlinson had a "sore knee" and that he "can return."

Afterward, Tomlinson said: "It's obvious that I couldn't play. If I could have played, I would have been in there."

General manager A.J. Smith did not return calls seeking comment on Tomlinson's injury.

Turner said the Chargers would get Michael Bennett ready to play more. He was signed in November.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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