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Chargers like their 1-2 punch at fullback

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, May 29, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Saturday, May 29, 2010

    The competition for a roster spot as the Chargers’ third tailback will likely last into September.
    But whether it is Washington Redskins castoff Marcus Mason, undrafted rookie Shawnbrey McNeal or even if there is the storybook rise of shooting victim Curtis Brinkley, it is all but a formality.
    The hope will be that player remains inactive all season, his contribution being in practice giving the defense a good runner to work against. Barring injury or a need for his services on special teams, the third back won’t play on Sundays.
    After first-round pick Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles get their carries, there aren’t going to be a lot of leftovers for anyone else.
    And the fact is the Chargers’ third option at running back is already ensconced on the roster.
    It’s Mike Tolbert, the self-described running back in a fullback’s body.
    “We call him hybrid,” running backs coach Ollie Wilson said yesterday at the conclusion of the Chargers’ three-day minicamp.
    The Chargers have two such fullbacks, actually, in Tolbert and Jacob Hester. Both are the new mold of fullbacks, smaller and quicker, with the ability to catch and run.
    The departure of Lorenzo Neal after the 2007 season has come to be equated by many in San Diego with the passing of a beloved icon, as if Shamu were told to hit the road. If Neal were still here, the thinking goes, the Chargers would have rushed for 2,000 yards in 2009, LaDainian Tomlinson would never have gotten injured and there probably would be a downtown football stadium already.
    However valid all the lamenting may or may not be about No. 41 no longer being the Chargers’ lead blocker, Hester and Tolbert give the offense an added dimension.
    Neal, who retired last year after a season in Baltimore, keeps a close eye on the team for which he was a Pro Bowler from 2005-07. He remains tight with Tomlinson, is a mentor to Mathews and spent time talking with Tolbert this offseason.
    Neal would like to see the Chargers’ two young fullbacks be called on to do more of what he did in his day — in Neal’s unmatchable words, “Punch you in the mouth, blue collar; hey diddle diddle 41 up the middle.”
    But he appreciates them for what they are.
    “It’s a great combination,” Neal said. “They bring a different dynamic … They do some things I couldn’t do as well. They’ve got better feet, they’re faster. I’m not going to say they’re stronger.”
    Hester was the Chargers’ third-round pick in 2008, and he was listed as the starter at fullback most of last season. The two essentially share time, though, and it is Tolbert who is viewed as the more explosive playmaker.
    Their blocking styles are different, with Tolbert being the more straight-up bruiser, which is among the things Neal counseled him on recently.
    The Chargers may benefit from Tolbert growing as a fullback, for sure. But Wilson put more emphasis on Tolbert’s growing as a runner this offseason.
    “Mike knows he’s a fullback,” Wilson said. “But the ideal thing about him is when he has the ball in his hands or he’s running routes, he’s a plus for us that people don’t count on … As much as we label him as a fullback, I think he’s going to do what we need him to do to be effective and give us another weapon that most people don’t talk about.”
    With a laugh, Sproles, arguably the Chargers’ most dynamic player, said: “He’s got great vision. And he’s got great speed for 20 yards.”
    Maybe a little more.
    Tolbert’s catch-and-run for a 66-yard touchdown in Cleveland was the Chargers’ second-longest play of the 2009 season. He runs precise routes, catches consistently and can make people miss when he runs.
    After they covered a kickoff together in a practice, new Chargers cornerback Nathan Vasher looked at Tolbert and said, “I didn’t know you were that fast.”
    Tolbert is ready for what might be in store for him this season.
    Coaches have remarked he is in better shape than a year ago. He has been around Chargers Park since February. He said Neal gave him “a recipe to follow” that included being early to work, studying harder and taking care of his body.
    “I’m 5-9, 250,” Tolbert said, citing his listed height and not what the ruler would likely show. “I’m built for being physical. I like to hit. I like the contact. But I can do all that stuff — running back or fullback, whether it be running or blocking.”
  2. MasterOfPuppets

    MasterOfPuppets Charger fan since 1979

    Aug 8, 2006
    with RM and Sproles at RB and Tolbert a FB with running skills, is Hester really necessary?
  3. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

    Aug 14, 2006
    Hester really isn't that quick. He has also dropped passes, fumbled, and pretty much been a complete failure at blocking. Only thing he can do is play special teams.

    Tolbert needs to block a little better, and he can be the complete package.
  4. Dublin Bolt

    Dublin Bolt BoltTalker

    Aug 12, 2006
    Yogi is the man. Hester is a decent special teamer that's it.
  5. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    It's a bit early, but I begin to suspect that Cory Jackson gets the roster nod over Hester this year. He's bigger, perhaps a tad faster and can move at least as well as Hester. He could also be an absolute terror on special teams. Two FB's who weigh around 250 are a better bet on the field than Hester is at the moment. Maybe we can get a fifth or sixth round for him from some team that gets bit by injuries or disappointments. Otherwise, syonara. Having Matthews and one of those two near the goal line is a delightful prospect.
  6. charger1993

    charger1993 bad motherfucker

    Feb 20, 2010
    Cory jackson is a beast who could block for mathews like lo'neal did for LT.

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