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Chargers have inside line on Saints' Darren Sproles


If anyone knows how to lock down Darren Sproles, it's the San Diego Chargers.

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The New Orleans Saints all-purpose back is a threat as a runner, receiver and kick returner. That kind of versatility paired with quarterback Drew Brees continues to be a dangerous combination for opposing defense.

Chargers coach Norv Turner, however, was the first to utilize Sproles' talents as a professional. He broke into the NFL with the Chargers, playing six years in San Diego before signing with New Orleans as a free agent in 2011. Sproles will line up against his former team Sunday night.

"I think what you do is take from what people did to us," Turner said, according to U-T San Diego. "You look at the games where people were effective against him and see how they managed it, how they handled it. You know he's going to get his plays, but we'll try to keep him from getting the ball out in space where he makes big plays."

Sproles does a little bit of everything for the Saints. He has 207 receiving yards, including two touchdowns, 82 rushing yards and averages 29.4 yards on kickoff returns. The goal is to get Sproles 1-on-1 against a linebacker in open space.

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"He's so explosive, and he's a playmaker," Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano said. "They want to get the ball in his hands and have him do different things whether that is running the football, splitting him out or motioning him.

"As long as I've been here, we've seen that day in and day out, so it's not going to be anything new to us. We have to go and defend him, and he's going to be a tough challenge for us."

Sproles' touches are down without Sean Payton calling the Saints' offense. His rush attempts have nearly been cut in half.

The fewer touches for Sproles, the easier the day will be for the Chargers' D.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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