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Chargers TE job is still in good hands

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    In even the biggest and bruisingest of men, there's the smallest and fleetest of guys trying to get out, run a deep route, make the fingertip catch in perfect stride and fly unabated to the most appropriate point in the end zone for an earthshaking spike.

    His inner Manumaleuna, so to speak.
    “Who doesn't want the ball in their hands?” said Chargers tight end Brandon Manumaleuna. “Everybody always has that dream of running a 99-yard touchdown.”
    In his case, though, it's actually conceivable. Maybe not highly likely, but certainly not out of the question, especially given the current circumstances. With the unavailability of Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates, the San Diego starter on both run and pass plays is Manumaleuna, who isn't merely in there to hit people and keep them off his quarterback and running backs.
    The point is – and it's a point virtually every one of his teammates is emphatic about making, even as some of them continue to struggle with the pronunciation of his last name – Manumaleuna is not just the tight end people might think he is. That much was evident the other day when the 6-foot-2, 288-pound (or more) Manumaleuna ran a long pattern, looked back for the underthrown ball and basically stole it away over safety Eric Weddle for a 30-yard gain. “Great catch,” said safety Clinton Hart, frequently found in the same vicinity as Manumaleuna on practice passing plays. “He has great hands. I've come close to knocking some balls down, swiped right in front of his eyes, and he still catches them. “Brandon's tricky. He's a way bigger body than Antonio, so you have to try to get around him more, whereas Antonio's more shifty. The first thing you see is Brandon's size coming at you, but he was a 4x100 guy in high school, so you also can't underestimate his speed.”

    For most of his seven seasons in the NFL, Manumaleuna, 28, has been known as a reason his team usually ran the ball better than others. The first season after the Chargers obtained Manumaleuna in trade from St. Louis – where he'll play an exhibition game against his former team Saturday night – San Diego ran for a club-record 2,578 yards and a Most Valuable Player award for LaDainian Tomlinson. The latter won his second straight NFL rushing title last year.
    “Brandon's a starting tight end in this league,” said quarterback Philip Rivers. “He just so happens to be on the team with the best tight end in the NFL.”
    Life without Gates isn't something the Chargers want to consider, particularly since they've already experienced it, with unpleasant results. The toe surgery that has Gates gingerly working himself back onto the playing field was necessitated by an injury that limited the acrobatic Gates to six catches in three postseason games last season.
    “I don't know if (not having Gates) really changes anything as far as how we do things or what I do,” said Manumaleuna. “You just have to step up. We probably do a lot more three-wide (receivers) or other things to replace – well, you can't use that word 'replace' – to compensate for him not being in there.”
    It is a different ballgame when Manumaleuna is in there. Most often, if he's in the huddle, the defense is reasonably assured that the Chargers will be running the ball, probably with Manumaleuna at the point. Anytime he catches a pass – 10 times last season, 90 times in his career – it seems to come as big a surprise to opponents as it is to spectators.
    “Me, I love it, seeing him get opportunities to show people that he can play the receiver role and catch the ball,” said Gates, working to get himself game-ready in time for the regular-season opener. “I'm the first guy jumping on him.”
    While still recognized as the most dangerous receiving threat among NFL tight ends, Gates said he's learned much about blocking from Manumaleuna. Specifically, he said Manumaleuna has taught him about the “patience of blocking.” Asked what he's learned about catching the ball from Gates, Manumaleuna said it's “patience,” especially in running routes.
    When at full gallop, Manumaleuna can be a frightful sight, particularly for the safety who's right in front of him. Conversely, it's the defensive back behind him who's more of a threat to Manumaleuna's dream of catching the long bomb and taking it all the way. Like that career-long 48-yarder against New England a few years back, the one that had “TD” written all over it. “I got tripped up by the safety,” said Manumaleuna. “I thought I was on my way.”

    By Chris Jenkins - UT
     
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  2. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    I'd like to see a lot of Chandler on Saturday, depending on his health.
     
  3. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    That was a really good read, JL. Thanks. I'm always amazed at how quick Manu can move - he's a pretty shifty guy to be close to 300 lbs. I like to see him get the ball & feel reasonably good about him being in until Gates gets healthy.

    Like RC, I wanna see Chandler get more reps & the ball thrown his way. Reality is that Gates isn't 100% yet, so the other guys gotta step up. :yes:
     
  4. Showmeyourbolt

    Showmeyourbolt Well-Known Member

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    Manu is awesome. A really underrated free agent signing by AJ a couple of years ago, the guy is a beast.
     
  5. Savage Lizard

    Savage Lizard Charger fan at 7000'

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    Actually he was obtained via draft day trade in 2006 for a 4th round pick.
     
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  6. Showmeyourbolt

    Showmeyourbolt Well-Known Member

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    Correct, nice catch:tup:
     
  7. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

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    Manu Manu
     

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