LaDainian Tomlinson has been ruled out of the San Diego Chargers' home opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday due to a sprained ankle, just the second time the star running back will miss a start due to injury in his brilliant nine-year career.
The former NFL MVP, who was hurt in Monday night's 24-20 win at Oakland, hadn't missed a game due to injury until January, when a groin injury kept him out of a playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tomlinson's carries will go to Darren Sproles and Michael Bennett, a late-season addition last year who made the roster out of training camp.
Also out are center Nick Hardwick (ankle) and defensive end Travis Johnson (groin). Right guard Louis Vasquez (knee) could also be sidelined, along with linebacker Antwan Applewhite (hamstring) and defensive tackle Jamal Williams (elbow). All three are listed as questionable for Sunday.
Hardwick will be replaced by Scott Mruczkowski. If Vasquez can't go, Brandyn Dombrowski will get his first NFL start.
The Chargers have the wrong opponent to not be at full strength. They expect a tough, physical game against the hard-nosed Ravens, who advanced to last season's AFC championship game before losing to the Steelers.
The previous year it was the Chargers getting one win away from the Super Bowl before losing to the New England Patriots.
"You've got two teams that are awfully good and see themselves as being pretty good," coach Norv Turner said Friday. "They are a very physical football team and we are a physical football team. So I think it's going to be a heck of a matchup. We both have aspirations of doing something very special. Both teams would like to have the kind of year to get there again."
Both squads are coming off close wins over AFC West opponents. The Chargers beat Oakland 24-20 and the Ravens beat the visiting Kansas City Chiefs 38-24.
"I think playing in our home stadium is big for us," Turner said.