Chargers Add Veteran RB Bennett to Backfield

Running back Michael Bennett signed with the San Diego Chargers on Wednesday, hours after being released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bennett, an eight-year pro, carried only seven times for 12 yards with the Buccaneers, an average of 1.7 yards per carry.

"He's a capable running back and he was released," coach Norv Turner said. "We had a spot where we could do something. Again, down this next stretch of seven games we may be in a position where we need a veteran player."

The Chargers have struggled running the ball this season, in part because of LaDainian Tomlinson's toe injury and because the line hasn't been as dominant as in the past. The Chargers rank 25th in the NFL in rushing yards per game.

To make room on the 53-man roster, the Chargers released linebacker Derek Smith.

"It's not what I wanted to do in terms of what our plan was, but it's what we need to do to help our football team."

Smith started the first four games while Stephen Cooper served an NFL-imposed suspension for testing positive for a banned stimulant.

General manager A.J. Smith did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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