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
Los Angeles Chargers RB Branden Oliver is looking to bounce back from consecutive season-ending injuries.
It was just three years ago that Chargers running back Branden Oliver led his team in rushing.
In 2014, the undrafted rookie free agent burst onto the scene after filling in for injured starter Ryan Mathews. He played in 14 games (seven starts), carrying the ball 160 times for 582 yards and rushing for three touchdowns. He also finished with 36 receptions for 271 yards and one receiving touchdown. Not only that, but Oliver won the PepsiNext Rookie of the Week award twice.
Things went downhill from there.
In 2015, Oliver played in only eight games before landing on season-ending injured reserve with turf toe. Last year, Oliver didn’t even make it to the regular season after tearing his Achilles in Week 3 of the preseason.
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The Chargers re-signed the 26-year-old to a one-year deal in the offseason. He’ll be fighting with Andre Williams, Kenjon Barner, Kenneth Farrow and Austin Ekeler for a role behind Melvin Gordon.
According to the team’s official website, he’s already making some noise.
“He looks good,” quarterback Philip Rivers told the press during organized team activities (OTAs). “He looks explosive. I know it’s early, but I think he really is a great complement to Melvin (Gordon). Their styles are different, but similar. (We) have two backs who can run all the same plays, but it’s a little different. You see them. Their movements are different. I think BO can be a heck of a changeup for us.”
With former backup and third-down specialist Danny Woodhead off to Baltimore, someone needs to step up. Oliver has the talent but needs to stay on the field (like the rest of the team). The running back corps is one of the thinnest groups on the roster. If Oliver can bounce back in his fourth year and give Gordon a rest so the latter doesn’t get run down by the end of the year, the Chargers will be in good shape.