After coaching Darren Sproles for four years in San Diego, Norv Turner will coach against him for the first time on Sunday night when the Chargers play the Saints. And Turner says preparing for Sproles is among the most important parts of the Chargers’ preparation this week.
Sproles left the Chargers in free agency last year and set a new NFL record for total yards in a season by gaining 2,696 yards in 2011 with the Saints — a record he’s on pace to break this season. Turner says he’s been impressed watching Sproles, but he also didn’t see anything from Sproles in New Orleans that Turner didn’t already know he could do.
“It was different last year watching him play on TV,” Turner told U-T San Diego. “I think people who have been around me know how I feel about Darren as a person and a player. We have to find a way to slow him down, stop him and get the ball away from him. We have to do whatever we can do to give ourselves a chance to win the game.”
Turner said the Chargers know what worked against Sproles when he played for them, so that should help in preparing to play against him.
“I think what you do is take from what people did to us,” Turner said. “You look at the games where people were effective against him and see how they managed it, how they handled it. You know he’s going to get his plays, but we’ll try to keep him from getting the ball out in space where he makes big plays.”
We’ll see on Sunday whether the Chargers have the right game plan to keep Sproles in check. But the best way for the Chargers to stop Sproles from beating them would have been not letting him leave in free agency, and making other teams worry about how to stop him.