As the Chargers matriculate through their season of ups and downs, their primary offensive weapon, LaDainian Tomlinson, is averaging fewer than 20 carries per game. He still remembers a much heavier workload from last season, which helped him win MVP honors. Now, under new coach Norv Turner, the Chargers offense seems to lack an identity.
When asked about the team's lack of commitment to the run game, Tomlinson continues to display the same leadership which helped him become the NFL's Man of the Year.
"It's definitely frustrating; I'm not saying it isn't," Tomlinson said. "I won't complain about it, but I would love to have more carries. But I will not divide the locker room."
While Turner is coaching the same system used by the previous coaching staff, there still seems to be a certain meaning that has been lost in translation. A patient Tomlinson, however, understands the importance of chemistry between players and coaches.
"It takes time for coaches and players to get to know one another," says Tomlinson. "They are still learning what the players can and cannot do."
Dayne: Politics decides who plays in N.Y.
"He's a good communicator," says Dayne. "Kubes knows how to take care of us. He played this game and understands what players need, and we respect that he has a Super Bowl under his belt. He'll cut practice down from two hours to one hour, and we'll repay him by working hard."
Dayne said that despite working hard to lose weight and improve during his five years with the New York Giants, playing time was based on hidden factors.
"Politics determined who played," said Dayne. "I lost all of my fun. I learned the political side, where the best athletes aren't always out there. It's what the owners and people upstairs want."
In 2000, Dayne's rookie season, he says then-Giants offensive coordinator Sean Payton had confidence in his ability to perform. "Coach Payton believed in me. Then, once he left, they went with Tiki Barber solely, and away from me," said Dayne. "When Payton believed in me, it was Thunder (Dayne) & Lightning (Barber). Then, once he left, it became just Lightning."
Dayne was not without accountability, though. "I blame myself for not communicating with Coach Jim Fassel," he said. Dayne also said Barber is like a big brother to him and that he continues to stay in touch with him and former teammates Michael Strahan and Amani Toomer.
As a former Heisman Trophy winner, Dayne probably could run for office in Wisconsin, where his popularity is still high. But after a poor run in the political arena in New York, it seems, for now, he'll be content to just run the ball in Houston.
Garrard not sleeping on second chance
After starting the final 10 games of the 2006 season, when he failed to take his team to the playoffs, David Garrard believes this is now his second chance to prove he can lead the Jacksonville Jaguars where Byron Leftwhich could not.
"I'm ready now, the time is right," says Garrard. "This is my second chance to lead. Everything that has happened to me has allowed me to be a better quarterback. Last year, without going to the playoffs, it hurt me, but sometimes it doesn't go my way. Last year in our last three games it was on me, and I lost it. But now the timing is perfect."
Garrard says he was caught completely off guard when the Jaguars cut Leftwich before the start of the regular season. Everyone was looking for Garrard inside the team's facilities that day, but they didn't know he was sleeping on a sofa in the players' lounge. Then a few of the guys awoke Garrard to ask if he knew what was going on.
"I was told that Coach Del Rio wanted to see me, and he told me that I was his starting QB," said Garrard. "It felt like a dream come true. It was the best time of my life, other than the recent birth of my son."
Garrard, who has thrown 227 consecutive passes this season without an interception, said the dream almost turned into a nightmare after injuring his ankle during a Monday night loss to the Indianapolis Colts. But the Jags went 2-1 during a three-game road trip while Garrard convalesced from his injuries. Now that Garrard is healthy and back in the lineup, he hopes to not rest again until his business is finished.
NFL sack leader credits life changes
For Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen, what was worse than serving a two-game suspension for a DUI conviction was not being on the field during the Chiefs' 0-2 start to the season. But as he entered Week 12 among the NFL's sack leaders with 9½, Allen credits the life changes he has made as the reason for his success.
"I quit drinking, and I have changed my diet as I continue to look for ways to progress my game to another level," Allen said.
The four-year veteran says he has become more explosive out of his stance, and his hand technique has improved since he began practicing mixed martial arts during the offseason in Arizona.
"Due to core-strengthening and cardio-conditioning," Allen said, "my hip flexibility and hand quickness have become more explosive."
Allen is in a contract year, but a closer look should reveal that since leaving Idaho State four years ago, he has been in a full sprint to the quarterback every Sunday afternoon. So while he has made significant life changes, one thing that likely will never change is his hustle and pursuit of opposing quarterbacks, even after a big payday.
Solomon Wilcots, a former NFL defensive back, is an analyst on the NFL Network as well as a color commentator for CBS football telecasts.