Immediately after Darren Sproles(notes) crossed the goal line on Monday night with 0:18 on the clock in the fourth quarter, the cameras found LaDainian Tomlinson(notes). He was standing on the sidelines, watching.
Tomlinson finished with 14 touches for 56 yards and a second quarter touchdown. Sproles finished with 14 touches for 66 yards and the game-winning TD. The Chargers defeated the Raiders for the 12th consecutive time, but the win was not decisive (24-20), and it's going to leave a mark. Today's 9-on-9 could consist entirely of reasons to worry about Tomlinson's fantasy value going forward, but we'll just give you the big three:
• LT was "limping badly after the game," according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. He rolled his ankle in the first quarter, then ceded carries to Sproles. In the fourth quarter, Sproles had seven touches to Tomlinson's three.
• The Chargers lost a pair of offensive linemen to injuries of unknown severity. Center Nick Hardwick(notes) and guard Louis Vasquez(notes) both exited with leg issues. Hardwick, a five-year vet and former Pro Bowler, was carted off with an apparent knee injury.
• Sproles was his usual electric self. He had five catches for 43 yards and added a pair of long kick returns. Even if LT's ankle injury isn't particularly serious -- and you can expect him to downplay it all week -- Sproles is going to gut Tomlinson's PPR value this year. The Chargers didn't use the franchise tag on Sproles simply because they like to handcuff.
If anyone can offer hope to LT owners this morning, please do so in comments. You shouldn't dismiss an all-time great based on the results of a single game, obviously. But you also can't allow the 69 percent-owned Sproles to remain a free agent any longer. [Highlights of SD-OAK via NFL.com]
Another observation from that Chargers-Raiders tilt: Oakland's backfield was awfully effective against a respectable San Diego D, particularly early. Darren McFadden(notes) finished with 19 touches and 93 total yards; Michael Bush(notes) delivered 59 yards and a TD on 13 touches. (Those who can't get Sproles should add Bush. He's just 12 percent-owned, but a clear goal line threat).
Whatever else you may think of Tom Cable's hands-on (your face) managerial style, know that the attitude has changed in Oakland. This from Jerry McDonald: "When the Raiders lost to the Chargers in Week 14 last season, the locker room sounded like an Evening at the Improv, with Nnamdi Asomugha(notes) having to talk over the cackling of some of his teammates following a 34-7 loss. This was no laughing matter. 'They're very hurt,' Raiders coach Tom Cable said following a 24-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers at a sold-out Coliseum." [Oakland Tribune]
Donovan McNabb(notes) will be visited by the ghosts of controversies past (Jeff Garcia(notes)), present (Kevin Kolb(notes)) and future (Michael Vick(notes)) this week. Yup, that's right, the Eagles have signed Garcia, former fantasy waiver gem.
This via Bob Brookover: "With McNabb, Vick and Garcia on the roster, the Eagles have three quarterbacks with a combined 12 Pro Bowl appearances, but none of them figures to start Sunday in the home opener against the New Orleans Saints. That assignment figures to go to Kevin Kolb and it will be his first career start."
Fear the 25-year-old Kolb, despite the matchup. If he impresses, there's always Week 3 vs. Kansas City. The Eagles have a well-timed bye in Week 4. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
The Saints backfield is now officially a pileup, perhaps one to avoid in Week 2 at Philadelphia. Here's coach Sean Payton: "The plan in regards to what we want to do with Reggie [Bush], that vision is pretty clear. It's something that you guys have seen a lot already. The better question would be how Pierre [Thomas] and Mike Bell(notes) -- and I'm not drawing similarities between those two -- but how do you work that rotation out? That's something that we're going to have to look at. A lot of it will be dependent on if Pierre is 100 percent. We think this is a week where he's going to be able to come back."
So Bush's role doesn't change. He's in charge of fumbling and 2-yard runs that somehow last 90 seconds. (He also caught five balls for 55 yards in Week 1 vs. Detroit). Bell and Thomas are in a "rotation" of some sort. This is clearly a big week for Thomas, and you can expect him to return...but not with 15-20 touches. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
Anthony Gonzalez's(notes) knee injury is not going to end his season according to Colts president Bill Polian: "There is some sprained ligaments and we know that it isn't year-ending." That's ligaments, plural. Recall that Indy is not generous with injury updates, and most of the positive spin they offer is just lip service. Those who owned Marvin Harrison(notes) in 2007 already understand this fact. The Colts will reportedly look to add a veteran free agent receiver, but it sounds like they're not looking No. 88's way: "'It really is counterproductive to try to bring a player in who has not had any training camp, not had any offseason,' Polian said. 'That's especially true of someone at Marvin's age.'" [Indianapolis Star]
Brutal injury news for Paul Posluszny(notes), and for those who keep investing in him in IDP leagues: "Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny suffered a broken left arm during a Patriots' second-quarter scoring drive. ... 'The doctors didn't give me a definite idea [how long he would be out], but they did say it will need surgery and then I'll go from there," said Posluszny, who indicated the injury happened sometime in the second quarter. 'But I should definitely be back. From what they told me, it's definitely not an I.R. (injured reserve) thing.'" [Buffalo News]
New England linebacker Jerod Mayo(notes) suffered an early knee injury against the Bills on Monday night and, characteristically, Bill Belichick didn't offer a post-game update. This from Ian Rapoport: "Teammates described Mayo as being in 'good spirits' at halftime. Mayo told one teammate, 'It’s nothing serious.'" [Boston Herald]
If you simply can't get enough bulleted content, we encourage you to check out Chris Liss' Week 1 observations. The Saints/Suns comparison works awfully well. So does the Delhomme/Lidge comparison, unfortunately. [RotoSynthesis]
OK, a final note from SD-OAK: Legedu Naanee(notes) is a badass, capable of degree-of-difficulty catches. The third-year Chargers receiver followed a nice preseason (5 REC, 84 yards, 2 TD) with an impressive regular season opener (5 REC, 49 yards). Of course there are many options in San Diego's offense, but it's worth noting that Naanee's five receptions were five more than Chris Chambers(notes) managed.
Photos via US Presswire