With the ball in his hands, the Chargers' Darren Sproles remains one of the league's most dangerous players. But in the return game, some of the jolt he provided the team in 2008 has been missing this season. The way we hear it, Sproles has been playing it safe on returns in '09, taking few gambles that could result in game-changing plays. The numbers back it up. On punt returns, especially, his production has taken a steep drop — Sproles is gaining about four yards less per return, and although he did take one punt back for a score, it's the only return he has had of 20-plus yards. He also has made fair catching a fairly frequent habit. There's no concrete explanation as to why Sproles' numbers are down, but his lack of risk-taking could be related to his contract situation. Playing under a one-year franchise deal, the dynamic back isn't guaranteed anything beyond this season and would have a lot to lose if he were to suffer a serious injury.
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