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For a little man, Sproles packs a powerful punch

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 20, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Darren Sproles' smile might be construed as shy, considering Sproles is a man of so few and such soft-spoken words.
    But it might be that his is a smile of perspective, of knowing something that others don't, something he has always known.
    It was this smile that spread across Sproles' face as he addressed this week just why it seems so difficult for large NFL defenders to tackle him – all 5-feet-6 and 181 pounds of him.
    “They think I'm so small they can just run up to me and hit me without wrapping me up,” Sproles said.
    Of course, it is more than that. He is exceptionally strong, shifty and quick, and he is difficult even to find in traffic among the giants who play around him.
    But there is definitely something to the idea that no matter what their coaches tell them, what they know is true, their brains might just trick these defenders who have trouble tackling Sproles.
    “Sproles is, it's kind of hard to put into words, man,” Broncos safety Marlon McCree said. “You watch him on the field and then you go out and play against him – it's two totally different things. His speed isn't really deceptive, because you know he's fast. But you don't know he's that fast until you try to tackle him. Those little legs get going, and boy he can fly.”
    McCree was the man who bounced off Sproles as Sproles gained 18 yards running through the line in the third quarter Sunday at Denver. On the next play, Sproles ran through the arms of linebacker Nate Webster at the beginning of his run from the 48 to the 4-yard line, a play brought back on a holding penalty to the 33 for a 15-yard gain.
    “He's got a lot of power,” said McCree, who spent the 2006 and '07 seasons in San Diego. “He packs a good punch, now. His legs are real big. If you look at his thighs, he's got good quad strength. He can pull away from you, run away from a tackle. He's a good back.”
    Yes, finally, there seems to be a consensus. Sproles is a bona fide NFL running back.
    A year ago, with Sproles coming off a season lost to a broken ankle and with a new head coach, there was a question whether there would be room on the Chargers roster for him. He won that spot with a strong preseason and showed coach Norv Turner there was room for him from time to time on offense as well.
    Coming into this season, with former backup running back Michael Turner gone to Atlanta, Sproles acknowledged he was motivated by his perception that there were doubts he could be a No. 2 back.
    While it remains to be seen, likely somewhere else after this season, if he will ever be a featured back in the NFL, Sproles has shown he can contribute greatly to this Chargers team as LaDainian Tomlinson's backup.
    While the Chargers didn't run much Sunday in Denver, Sproles came on in the second quarter to spell Tomlinson and his ailing right big toe. By that time, Sproles already had returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown.
    He would go on to run seven times for 53 yards and catch two passes for 72 yards, including a catch in the flat and 66-yard run through and across almost the entire Broncos defense en route to the end zone.
    It was a play just like those he has been making for four training camps and preseasons and in the middle of every week during his previous two regular seasons.
    “That's how he practices,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “He makes those runs in practice. ... You throw him one like that out there in practice and he runs for about 60 yards, even if they may have had him tackled or trapped him. He finishes those runs, so it's not by mistake that he makes them in the game.”
    It's not. And it has to with something else Rivers said: “There's no guy that earns it more than he does or deserves it any more than he does.”
    One thing running backs coach Ollie Wilson noticed this spring was that when he looked out on the practice field during the day, Sproles was often out on the grass fielding punts from the JUGS machine or working on something.
    And then there is his work in the weight room.
    Sproles is slight, but there is a reason his nickname since he was young has been “Tank.” His thighs appear to be as big as his waist.
    His measurables from the NFL combine in 2005, where he lifted more weight and ran the 40-yard dash faster than any other running back, don't matter much anymore. What has helped him improve is increased patience waiting for holes and increased vision of the field.
    But his work ethic and what he does in the weight room are no less impressive now, or less important. Teammates and coaches say it is impressive to watch the small man lift with such force, and it transfers to the field.
    “The thing (defenders) don't know is he is probably one of the strongest guys we've got on the team,” Wilson said. “He's got such power. ... He's got great power, great strike. That explosion when he's running, it's like throwing up a dumbbell. People get shocked. They don't know he's that hard. And then he's so damn quick. But his power is the thing.”

    UT
     
  2. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    MIGHTY MOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  3. TheBeast

    TheBeast BoltTalker

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    LITTLE TANK!!!!
     
  4. Enormo

    Enormo BoltTalker

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    Darren Sproles is carrying my baby.
     
  5. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    I know this, Sproles is fun to watch. :abq2::tup::abq1:
     
  6. bigmike.x.09

    bigmike.x.09 Well-Known Member

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    hmm... where are those people who said sproles shouldnt be on the team....

    go mighty mouse!
     
  7. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    Gramps has been punished for that...:yes:
     
  8. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Chargers Blog

    Is Sproles an every down back?

    Ever since high school, Darren Sproles has been told what he won't be able to do on the football field.
    The short version of Sproles' accomplishments: He was a high school All-American and led the NCAA in rushing in 2003 while at Kansas State.
    Now that Darren Sproles (5-foot-6, 181 pounds) has shown he can be an effective fill-in, he has one more mountain to conquer -- being a featured back in the NFL.
    The success he has had with the Chargers -- gaining 122 yards in a half last season against Detroit, a 56-yard touchdown reception in the playoffs at Indianapolis, last week's 125 yards from scrimmage at Denver -- has made it virtually assured he will get his chance from some team. The Chargers putting him in those situations has almost guaranteed he won't be in San Diego after this season. At the least, he and his agent will test the market, and it seems likely there will be at least one team with a greater need than the Chargers will offer him more than the Chargers will.
    Sproles won't be getting $34 million as a free agent like Michael Turner this last winter, because Sproles hasn't proved himself on that scale and because there will still be questions about his durability.
    Even running backs coach Ollie Wilson, who loves Sproles and thinks he might be a featured back someday, acknowledges Sproles benefits from not having to carry the ball much and admits there would be concerns about how he'd stand up if he were a 20-carry back.
    But I'd say at this point it's not wise to bet against Sproles.
    Some questioned me at the time, but I guarantee you Sproles was on the bubble for a time last preseason until he showed his new head coach he could be a viable kick returner and could help from scrimmage.
    It wasn't the first time Sproles defied the odds, and it might not be the last.
     

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