|Jaguars hope to prevent Tomlinson from reaching 10,000-yard rushing mark|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 15 November 2007 15:34|
San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson needs 91 yards rushing to become the fourth-fastest player to reach 10,000 yards. He hopes to get it when the Jaguars (6-3) host the Chargers (5-4).
Jacksonville's Fred Taylor accomplished the feat last week at Tennessee, becoming the 21st player to reach the mark. His teammates celebrated his achievement on the sideline and after the game.
They would prefer not to be part of Tomlinson's moment.
``Hopefully he can get that record somewhere else,'' defensive end Bobby McCray said.
Jacksonville was gouged for 282 yards on the ground in the season opener against Tennessee, allowing a career-high 175 yards to Chris Brown. But the defense hasn't allowed a back to top the century mark since.
And the Jaguars have been at their best against some of the league's top runners. They stifled Denver's Travis Henry (11 carries for 35 yards) and Kansas City's Larry Johnson (nine rushes for 12 yards).
They hope to have same effect on Tomlinson, last year's league MVP who's gotten off to a relatively slow start this season.
``We're a proud defense and we get up to play the big guys,'' defensive end Reggie Hayward said.
Tomlinson has 733 yards rushing and eight touchdowns through nine games, averaging 4.2 yards a carry. He averaged 5.2 yards a carry in 2006 en route to 1,815 yards and 28 touchdowns.
But with a new coach, a new offensive coordinator and an injury to Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick, there has been a drop-off.
Tomlinson attributed it to a tougher schedule and better defenses.
``People have done a really good job of game-planning against us,'' Tomlinson said. ``They have really taken away what we like to do - getting the ball to our weapons - so you guys have not seen the big plays like we normally have with this offense.''
Tomlinson has just two 100-yard games this season, against Kansas City and Oakland, and hasn't topped 100 yards in more than a month.
The Jaguars certainly don't want him to get back on track against them, regardless of the approaching milestone.
``I don't give a hoot,'' defensive end Paul Spicer said. ``I'm trying to stop him from getting any yards. He's a good back. He's going to get a few yards. I'm not going to make it a big deal to stop him from getting 91 yards. I'm going to make it a big deal to stop him period. It has nothing to do with 91.
``It doesn't have anything to do with a milestone. I just care about stopping him and winning the game. If he gets 91 yards and we win the game, I'm going to congratulate him. I'm going to pat him on the back, slap him on the butt and push him out the way so we can go celebrate.''
Tomlinson is heading into his 105th career game. Eric Dickerson (91 games), Jim Brown (98) and Barry Sanders (103) were the fastest to reach 10,000 yards. Emmitt Smith (106) is fourth.
``It's an accomplishment of just perseverance and consistency over time,'' Tomlinson said. ``I think that is what it means to me the most. Ten thousand yards is pretty much the benchmark for a lot of running backs throughout their careers. They look at 10,000 yards as a goal, so I think that is the same way with me.''
Despite San Diego's inconsistent offense, the Chargers have won four of their last five games to take a one-game lead in the AFC West. The Jaguars are a game behind Indianapolis in the AFC South despite having played the last three games without quarterback David Garrard.
Garrard will be back in the starting lineup Sunday, and the Jaguars hope his return will provide a boost for the offense.
As for the defense, the Jaguars believe facing Tomlinson, especially with his milestone looming, provides plenty of motivation.
``We know we can stop the run,'' Spicer said. ``It's not about talking about it. It's about going out and proving it. There are some things I feel like we, as a defense, can take advantage of with him, with their team. But we've still got to do it.
``Talking about it, writing it up, putting the Xs and Os on the board, that's all good and fine and dandy. But it's still about going out there and executing and doing it.''