Early notes from Pittsburgh

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

PITTSBURGH -- While the Chargers will surely miss LaDainian Tomlinson on Sunday, they were prepared for this.

The team was operating under the impression Tomlinson likely would not be able to play. The Chargers are hopeful he could return for the AFC Championship Game against Baltimore if they win at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The Chargers spent all week preparing backup Darren Sproles and No. 3 tailback Michael Bennett to play against the Steelers, who had the No. 2 run defense in the NFL in the regular season.

With a full week of practice, the Chargers feel their active running backs will be able to carry the load, starting with the tiny Sproles who has rushed for 219 yards the past two games combined.

With the visiting teams winning the first three playoff games of the weekend, the Chargers can make it a perfect 4-for-4 with a win Sunday.

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt is at the game. He is close friends with Chargers coach Norv Turner.