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Tomlinson Will Visit Other Teams, May Decide By The Weekend

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17:  Running back LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the San Diego Chargers warms up on the field prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the New York Jets at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Nam HuynhContributor IMarch 11, 2010

Free-agent running back LaDainian Tomlinson walked out of the Vikings’ Winter Park facility around 5:20 p.m. Thursday without a contract but holding a Vikings’ jersey.

Tomlinson is now expected to visit with the New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints after meeting with the Vikings. Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter spoke to Tomlinson after his visit with the Vikings and said he may make his decision on a team by this weekend.

Although he walked out without a contract, Tomlinson certainly liked what he heard and enjoyed his visit.

The former San Diego Charger began his visit with the Vikings Wednesday evening over dinner with head coach Brad Childress, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, running back’s coach Eric Bieniemy and defensive tackle Pat Williams.

Williams attended the dinner to help persuade Tomlinson into playing for the Vikings. The 37-year-old veteran went out of his way to attend the dinner despite a long day in court at the StarCaps trial.

The big question even before Tomlinson met with Vikings’ officials was whether or not the veteran tailback would accept a role behind running back Adrian Peterson, specifically as a third-down back. Tomlinson was very optimistic about this situation while speaking of that subject to WCCO after dinner.

“I definitely can,” Tomlinson said. “I would be coming here for him. He’s in the prime of his career. I’ve done what he’s trying to do, except win a championship.”

Winning a championship is something he can realistically accomplish as a member of the Vikings. Tomlinson told the Star Tribune that he feels the Vikings are capable and close to going all the way.

“Very close. They are right at the top of the situation I was looking for when I first said I want to go somewhere and have a chance to win a championship.”

Tomlinson spoke to various media folks Wednesday night and said he was unsure if he would sign with the Vikings, but said he would “possibly” sign on Thursday. He and his agent, Tom Condon, went to the Vikings’ Winter Park facility Thursday afternoon to have a more formal meeting over football philosophies, talk contract details, and to take a physical.

Thursday’s visit lasted for several hours as media folks waited patiently in facility’s press room.

Tomlinson, 30, saw his numbers decline for his last couple seasons with the Chargers. He had 12 touchdowns and 730 yards on 223 carries for a 3.3-yard average in 2009, and 11 touchdowns and 1110 yards on 292 carries for a 3.8-yard average the year before that.

Although those numbers aren’t necessarily bad, it is a significant decline from the numbers he had at the top of his game when he averaged 4 to 5 yards per carry. Some people, including Tomlinson himself, suggests the decline in numbers is a result of the change in the Charger’s offensive philosophy that made them more of a passing team.

Nam Huynh writes for Minnesota Sports Zone (http://www.mnsportszone.com)

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