LA Chargers News

3 Chargers flying under the radar heading into training camp

EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 21: Justin Jackson #21 of the Northwestern Wildcats is chased by Manny Rugamba #5 of the Iowa Hawkeyes at Ryan Field on October 21, 2017 in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern defeated Iowa 17-10 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 21: Justin Jackson #21 of the Northwestern Wildcats is chased by Manny Rugamba #5 of the Iowa Hawkeyes at Ryan Field on October 21, 2017 in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern defeated Iowa 17-10 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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LINCOLN, NE – NOVEMBER 04: Linebacker Chris Weber #49 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers tackles running back Justin Jackson #21 of the Northwestern Wildcats at Memorial Stadium on November 4, 2017 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
LINCOLN, NE – NOVEMBER 04: Linebacker Chris Weber #49 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers tackles running back Justin Jackson #21 of the Northwestern Wildcats at Memorial Stadium on November 4, 2017 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

Justin Jackson, Running back

The Chargers aren’t exactly deep at running back. Behind Melvin Gordon, the team has Ekeler and a bunch of guys that most fans likely aren’t real familiar with. Those names include Justin Jackson, Russell Hansbrough and Detrez Newsome.

Of those names, Jackson is the one to watch.

Jackson, who ranks just outside the top 10 in all-time rushing yards in NCAA history, may have fallen down the draft board of many teams due to his size, but he fits quite well in Los Angeles. That’s because the team has a similar player in Ekeler.

Ekeler came into camp last year as an undrafted rookie from a school (Western State) that most people don’t even know where is. He was given virtually no chance to make the team. All he did was find a role on special teams and then take advantage of every opportunity he was given before becoming the team’s No.2 running back.

Jackson can come in and make a similar impact, as Ekeler has already carved out the path.

Jackson had over 1,100 carries at Northwestern and that experience will help him at the next level. It’s not like he played against inferior competition. Northwestern plays in the Big 10, meaning he saw stiff competition nearly every week.

Jackson can also catch the ball out of the backfield.

Don’t just look at his bio and see that he was a seventh-round draft pick and immediately write him off. This kid has a lot to offer this team and he should get plenty of chances to show that in the coming weeks.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 13: Wide receiver Nelson Spruce #86 of the Los Angeles Rams carries the ball against the Dallas Cowboys at the Los Angeles Coliseum during preseason on August 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 13: Wide receiver Nelson Spruce #86 of the Los Angeles Rams carries the ball against the Dallas Cowboys at the Los Angeles Coliseum during preseason on August 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Nelson Spruce

If you’re getting the feeling that I’m high on Nelson Spruce, you caught me, I definitely am.

Spruce may be firmly on the roster bubble entering camp, but he has the ability to make some plays at the wide receiver position and if he makes enough of them, he could sneak onto the 53-man roster.

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Spruce could make for a productive slot receiver in Los Angeles but he also has the ability to get open deep down the field and with his size at 6-foot-2, can also go up and win jump balls. Hopefully, he gets a shot to be on the field with Philip Rivers a bit so the two can create some chemistry. His style is that of a receiver that Rivers would appreciate having on his side.

Spruce finished his college career as the all-time reception leader in Pac-12 Conference history. That didn’t happen by accident. Perhaps he just needed the right fit.

For the the native of California, perhaps he’s finally found it.

Look for Spruce to make some exciting, athletic plays this summer to try and separate himself from what will be a huge depth chart at the wide receiver position when camp opens.

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