- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2009

From combined dispatches

Chargers stars LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates missed a second straight practice Thursday as San Diego continued to prepare for its home playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night.

It sounds as if Tomlinson, who has a strained groin, is in better shape than Gates, who has a sprained ankle.

“If we were playing today he probably wouldn’t play,” coach Norv Turner said about Gates, the Pro Bowl tight end.

And L.T.?

“Yeah, I think he would,” the coach said.

“Both of them are a lot better than they have been,” Turner said. “It really will be a Saturday decision, how they feel. We’ll get them out there and run around and see how they feel. I’m optimistic about both of them.”

Tomlinson said he felt better than he did Sunday night, when he was hurt in San Diego’s 52-21 win against Denver that clinched the AFC West for the Chargers (8-8).

By Saturday night, “hopefully it will be good enough to be productive,” Tomlinson said.

“I hope to play, but ultimately it’s not really my decision,” he added. “Game day, we’ll see how coach feels and what he wants to do. But hopefully I’ll be able to go.”

CARDINALS: The NFL has granted a second, final 24-hour extension of its television blackout deadline for the Arizona’s wild card playoff game against Atlanta on Saturday.

The team has until 2:30 p.m. on Friday to sell its remaining tickets. A sellout crowd is necessary for the NFL to lift its blackout of the home television market.

The NFL already had extended the deadline 24 hours to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. In a news release, the team said 3,700 tickets remained.

“Based on the activity we’ve seen the last couple of days and particularly in the last 24 hours, we’re very optimistic that this extension will get us where we need to be,” said Ron Minegar, the Cardinals’ executive vice president and chief operating officer.

VIKINGS: Plenty of good seats are still available for Minnesota’s playoff game against Philadelphia.

The Vikings reported 8,000 tickets remaining at noon New Year’s Day for Sunday’s game against the Eagles. The NFL has granted an extension until 3:30 p.m. local time Friday to reach a virtual sellout, but the possibility of a local TV blackout looms.

The blackout would not only encompass the Twin Cities but secondary markets in the region as well. It includes satellite, cable and over-the-air systems, so nobody in the area could watch the game unless they’re in attendance at the Metrodome.

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