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L.T. still on the mend, pledges not to rejoin Chargers too soon

LaDainian Tomlinson was among seven San Diego Chargers who missed Thursday's practice, and coach Norv Turner wasn't too optimistic about his star running back's chances for this weekend's game against the Miami Dolphins.

"When you don't practice on Thursday, it gets tougher (to play Sunday)," Turner said.

Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman (groin) and rookie right guard Louis Vasquez (knee) also didn't practice, but Turner expects them to work out Friday.

"Shawne and Vasquez, I think we're going to try to see what they're able to do tomorrow," the coach said. "I don't know that L.T. would be ready to try to do anything tomorrow."

Tomlinson sprained his right ankle during San Diego's season-opening victory at Oakland two weeks ago and missed last Sunday's 31-26 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Vasquez sprained a knee at Oakland and also missed the game against the Ravens. Merriman was hurt against Baltimore.

Tomlinson said his ankle is improving, but he's not sure if he'll be able to play against the Dolphins.

"Hopefully it just keeps getting better and I start to do a little bit more every day," Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson said he won't rush back from this ailment like he has in the past, including last year when he sustained a toe injury in the season opener and kept playing. He also was plagued by a groin injury late in the season, and that forced him to miss the Chargers' divisional-round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Chargers have solid depth at running back, with Darren Sproles and Michael Bennett able to step in if needed. Sproles, who also returns kickoffs and punts, has 524 all-purpose yards in two games this season.

"I'm not going to go through what I went through last year, you know, out there playing at 70 percent," Tomlinson said. "I'm not going to do that. I want to make sure it gets healthy and where I need it to be, and I can help this team out. We've got great depth right now."

Merriman said he will practice Friday.

"It's one of those things where you take as much rest as needed," Merriman said. "I don't really call it rest because I've been trying to rehab and make it as strong as possible."

Merriman said he has been running on the side and working out in the swimming pool at Chargers headquarters. He has no sacks in two games since his return from knee surgery that cost him the final 15 games of 2008, plus the two playoff games.

Also missing practice were linebacker Antwan Applewhite (hamstring), safety Kevin Ellison (illness), defensive end Travis Johnson (groin) and linebacker Brandon Siler (illness). Inside linebacker Stephen Cooper missed part of practice with a sprained ankle.

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