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NFL Notebook: Chargers nursing a bruised ego

Associated Press
The NFL notebook …
Although LaDainian Tomlinson’s jammed right big toe was wrapped on Monday, fantasy geeks worldwide apparently have nothing to fear.
“No, I don’t think so,” the San Diego Chargers’ star running back said.
If he’s right, then it appears the worst injury sustained in the Chargers’ shocking 26-24 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday was an organization-wide bruised ego.
Picked by many to make it to the Super Bowl, the Chargers were stunned by Jake Delhomme’s 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dante Rosario as time expired.
It was just the second loss for the Chargers in their last 17 regular-season games at home. Qualcomm Stadium went from frenzied to hushed, except for the ecstatic Panthers who dogpiled behind the goal posts and celebrated on the sideline.
“It’s a very disappointing way to come out of the gate, especially being at home,” said general manager A.J. Smith, who saw his team lose in the AFC championship game last season at New England.
Tomlinson jammed his toe when a Panthers player landed on the back of his leg during the Chargers’ final drive. The two-time defending NFL rushing champion, Tomlinson said he thinks it’s too early to tell if the injury will affect him.
“But I don’t think it’s anything serious. There was nothing that came up on the X-rays. That’s the good thing. It’s a little sore today. That’s to be expected. It’s doing OK.”
Tomlinson ó who carried 22 times for 97 yards but no touchdowns ó said he had a similar injury early in his career.- Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman has decided to have surgery on the two torn ligaments in his left knee and will miss the rest of the season.
The loss of the Pro Bowl linebacker is a huge setback for a team that has Super Bowl expectations.
“Shawne informed me he did not feel right and thought it best to shut it down,” Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said in a statement. “The road to winning the AFC West just got more difficult, but not impossible. Nothing is impossible. Shawne is a great player and an inspirational leader. He will be missed. We wish him a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.”
BILLSORCHARD PARK, N.Y. ó Former Bills tight end Kevin Everett was honored at halftime of Buffalo’s season-opening game against Seattle on Sunday, just under a year since he had a life-threatening spinal cord injury.
Everett walked onto the field to receive the Professional Football Writers of America’s George Halas Award, which is given to the person in the NFL who overcame the most adversity to succeed in the previous season.
“How you doing Buffalo?” Everett said to the sold-out crowd. “I can’t thank you enough for all the support you gave me. To receive this award is amazing.”
Everett spoke to the crowd just 25 yards from where his football career ended after he was initially paralyzed from the neck down attempting to make a tackle while covering a kickoff in the Bills’ 2007 season opener against Denver.
“It brought tears to my eyes, especially at the beginning of the game while I was looking at that spot,” Everett said. “I was tearing up. But I’ve been blessed. The injury was bad but there have been some great things that have come from it. We’ve been able to help a lot of people.”
It was originally feared that Everett would never walk again, but after gradually showing signs of improvement he began walking last November.
REDSKINSThese are a few of the lasting images for the Washington defense from the season opener against the New York Giants:
– Prized acquisition Jason Taylor getting pushed off the line of scrimmage when the Giants opted to run wide to his side.
“Terrible,” Taylor said of his performance against the Giants. “We didn’t win. I didn’t make enough plays to help us win. If we lose a game and you’ve got four or five sacks, you still didn’t play good enough.”
– Tough safety LaRon Landry getting bowled over by Brandon Jacobs near the end of another long run.
– Plaxico Burress eating up secondary, with many of his 133 yards on 10 catches coming on simple curl routes.
“We stepped on our toes the whole first half,” cornerback Fred Smoot said.
COWBOYSDallas signed Brooks Bollinger, giving the Cowboys a third-string quarterback they lacked all last season.
Bollinger was released by Minnesota during the final cuts of the preseason. Bollinger has played 19 games over the last four seasons, two with the New York Jets and the last two with the Vikings. Bollinger was only 6-of-18 for 62 yards against Dallas in the preseason finale, but the Cowboys saw enough things they liked.
Bollinger is 201-of-343 for 2,155 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions over his career. His passer rating is 75.2. At only 28, coach Wade Phillips called him “a fairly young guy that’s got some experience.”
CARDINALSThe Cardinals have their first season-opening road victory in nine years, and they finished it off in a grind-it-out style that coach Ken Whisenhunt’s mentor Bill Cowher must have loved.
Arizona clinched the win in San Francisco with an 18-play, 62-yard drive that used up 10:08 in the fourth quarter. It ended with Neil Rackers’ 30-yard field goal that put the Cardinals ahead 23-13 with 1:57 to play.
BEARSMatt Forte was the first Bears rookie running back to start an opener since Walter Payton in 1975. He carried 23 times for 123 yards ó 50 on a first-quarter touchdown run in which he broke a tackle and then outran reigning Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders.
“I got a lot of calls from friends back home,” Forte said.
SEAHAWKSSEATTLE ó Punter Ryan Plackemeier was released by the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday.
Plackemeier, a former Wake Forest star, has been Seattle’s punter for the past two seasons, but missed most of training camp after tearing a pectoral muscle. He then struggled in Seattle’s season opener in Buffalo.
STEELERSPITTSBURGH ó Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be limited in practice this week because of a sore shoulder but is expected to play this weekend at Cleveland.
Roethlisberger played three quarters of the Steelers’ 38-17 win over the Houston Texans in the season opener.
RAMSSt. Louis Rams wide receiver Drew Bennett fractured his left foot in the first series of Sunday’s opener at Philadelphia and will be sidelined at least a month.
GIANTSThe Super Bowl champions hired five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jessie Armstead as a special assistant and consultant.

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