Monday, March 1, 2010
The San Diego Chargers released runningback LaDainian Tomlinson last week, but another big name in the backfield may not return either. North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris tells us who may step up for the Chargers.
PAMELA DAVIS (Host): The backfield for the San Diego Chargers may look very different next season.
DWANE BROWN (Host): Joining us on Morning Edition is North County Times Sports Columnist Jay Paris. Well, LaDainian Tomlinson is gone, now Darren Sproles, Jay, is testing the free agent market. Should Charger fans be concerned about the running game?
JAY PARIS (Sports Columnist, North County Times): Well, they should have been concerned last year as well when it was one of the worst running attacks in the league, but they’re going to … Chargers are mix up that backfield and there are going to be some new faces back there. Obviously the departure of LaDainian Tomlinson is the big headline and his emotional departure last week just showed how much he’s going to miss playing for the Chargers. And I think some of those tears were from the fans as well of seeing him go elsewhere. But, this backfield’s going to have a new look. And there’s a chance Darren Sproles could be back. But, once you hit that open market, it’s a rare a player returns.
DAVIS: So, what are other potential running backs for the Chargers?
PARIS: There are some veterans available. They could also go to the draft and pick up someone there. They still have Michael Bennett on the roster and a couple full backs. The running back position is usually something you can pick someone up late in camp. There are some veterans out there and plug somebody in. I think you need to illustrate as well, the Chargers don’t really run that ball that much anymore, that’s not a real focal point of their offense. While it’s certainly critical to have some running backs back there, that position isn’t as paramount as it use to be under former coaches.
BROWN: Well, you mentioned LT’s tearful farewell last week. Where might he end up?
PARIS: That’s going to be interesting. The Detroit Lions have said they’re interested. We all like LT, we hope he doesn’t have to go there. I’m thinking a team that has a veteran coach maybe and veteran squad that’s close to winning a Super Bowl. Maybe a New England Patriots, I know it’s hard to swallow, maybe a team like that. There’s been talk of New Orleans Saints, his old buddy Drew Brees, but they’re pretty loaded at running backs, so I think he’s going to end up with the Patriots and Bill Belichick, and he continues that San Diego pipeline which has brought him Rodney Harrison and Jr. Seau.
DAVIS: Let’s talk about Aztec Basketball. The men’s basketball team still hoping for that NCAA tourney bid. How do we look?
PARIS: They need to finish strong this week. They have two more games. The Senior Night and the last home game Wednesday night. They lost one they needed to win last week at BYU. That would have given them the victory over a rake team on the road. It would have been real impressive on their résumé. Kawhi Leonard, their fine freshman forward was sick and didn’t, wasn’t nearly as 100 percent. They were beaten by double digits. So, they’ve got to finish strong this week. Colorado State and Air Force and then it’s going to be all about the Mountain West Conference tournament the following week in Las Vegas whether they’re going to make it or not.
BROWN: Well, good luck to the Aztecs. Let’s talk about the Padres. They’ve got some games going this week in the pre-season. How are the starting battles shaping up?
PARIS: There are a couple good ones. This is a different roster and a different mindset from last year where there really were quite a few position battles going on. This year it’s really at the back end of the rotation, maybe a few spots on the bench. I’m interested to see how Chase Headley does this year, the third baseman who was moved in from left field over the off-season with the trading of Kevin Cushman off. Headley, this will be his second full season. And he bounced back pretty strong last year. Hit 290 in the second half. Switch hitter, good eye, good plate discipline. He’s one of the crowned jewels of the minor league system. It’s time for him to really step-up and prove that yes, how the Padres are really going to go about it by scouting and developing and using cheap labor to win games is really going to work. So, keep an eye on Headley this year, it’s a big year for him.
DAVIS: So, how are the PAD’s looking during Spring Training?
PARIS: They … Actually, it’s crazy. Two strange things are happening. There’s been a lot of rain in Arizona and I drove around the Gaslamp yesterday and every bar had a hockey game on. So, that tells you how strange things are going. But, they’ve been having trouble getting their work in with all this rain, but they’ll be okay. It’s time to play games now. They’ve done their hitting; they’ve done their practicing; they’ve done their side bolt and sessions for the pitchers. Games get going Thursday with the charity game with the Mariners. Then it’s Friday for real. Then we’ll get a little bit better feel of just what Bud Black has for us over there.
DAVIS: North County Times Sports Columnist Jay Paris. Jay, thanks for joining us this morning.
PARIS: Ok, take care.