MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — LaDainian Tomlinson is coming to Minnesota for a visit, and the Vikings believe he could be a good fit.
Tomlinson is scheduled to meet with coach Brad Childress and other members of the organization on Thursday. The 2006 NFL MVP was released by the San Diego Chargers last month after the least-productive season of his prolific nine-year career.
The Vikings are looking for another running back since Chester Taylor signed with the Chicago Bears.
Childress said Wednesday he wants "to see where his mind is at." Childress said he assumes the 30-year-old Tomlinson realizes he'd have to accept a reduced role as a backup to All-Pro Adrian Peterson.
"I would think he knows that, but I always want to over-communicate clarity so we won't hopscotch around that," Childress said. "We'll have to show him what his role will be."
The coach said he had a "great conversation" on the phone with Tomlinson on Tuesday.
"Interrupted him on the golf course. Looking out my window I said, 'Well, I can't lie to you. It's not a tropical paradise here or anything like that,'" Childress said, referring to the Metrodome. "But that's why we've got a roof on the place."
Typical for an oft-used NFL running back his age, Tomlinson has been on the decline since totaling more than 2,300 yards from scrimmage and 31 touchdowns in his MVP season in 2006. Last year was the first time since he was drafted fifth overall by the Chargers in 2001 that he didn't reach 1,000 yards rushing.
Tomlinson had 12 touchdowns and 730 yards on 223 carries for a paltry 3.3-yard average in 2009. His experience, sure hands and usefulness in the passing game, however, are important parts of the job description. Peterson, who turns 25 later this month, has had a problem with fumbling. He frequently was replaced by Taylor on third downs.
Childress dismissed the notion of Tomlinson as a possible tutor for Peterson.
"That's not in the equation," the coach said. "We're kind of measuring him more as a football player and as a person, as a man, as a competitor — and how much he has left to be able to contribute to this team."
Tomlinson's agent, Tom Condon, declined to comment about visits for Tomlinson with other teams.
At his farewell to San Diego news conference last month, Tomlinson said he thinks he can play for as many as four more seasons. He ranks eighth on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 12,490 yards. His 138 career rushing touchdowns rank second.
He doesn't have a Super Bowl ring, a goal the Vikings came close to reaching themselves last season before an overtime loss in the NFC championship game in New Orleans to the eventual champion Saints.
"You don't really want to go somewhere and get your brains beat out," Childress said. "You want to go and have a chance to win and compete and win that ultimate prize."