Aug 28, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Branden Oliver (43) is helped onto the cart after being injured during a play in the second quarter during a preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The San Diego Chargers were dealt a 23-10 loss by the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3 of the preseason on Sunday, but that was far from the team’s biggest loss on the day.
Branden Oliver was injured after catching a screen pass from Kellen Clemens, going down and slapping the turf in pain and frustration. Reports later revealed an Achillies injury, one that will end his 2016 season.
The Chargers lose their No. 3 running back, but Oliver isn’t your average No. 3 running back. He plays every game, whether it be to spell the other backs on the team, return kicks or make plays on special teams. He’s versatile, and he’s also good enough to be a starter in the NFL. His loss is a tough blow to a team that suffered unspeakable back luck in the injury department a season ago.
Entering his third season out of Buffalo, Oliver has rushed for 690 yards and three touchdowns in his career. He’s also proven to be a solid option as a receiver, catching 49 passes for 383 yards and another touchdown. Additionally, he’s averaged 24.3 yards as a kick returner.
Now that he’s out for the year, undrafted rookie Kenneth Farrow and Dreamius Smith have a chance to step up and make the team. Still, the team should look for a veteran to bring in to give the roster more depth and experience, particularly with the status of Melvin Gordon, who underwent knee surgery during the offseason.
That said, here are five players the team should look at in addition to scouring the waiver wire once final roster cuts are made around the league.