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Oliver making most of his time

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Chargers defender racks up big plays

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    From the very start, from the instant he was taken into the National Football League, he’s been identified with that four-syllable word.
    It was in the supplemental draft of 2007 that the Chargers selected Paul Oliver, then a cornerback out of the University of Georgia, a compliment in that San Diego knew it was giving up its fourth-round pick in 2008 to claim him. Indeed, he’s still providing the Chargers a supplement, defined as “something added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen the whole.”
    Very much in that capacity, Oliver came flying in on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel on a safety blitz Sunday, saw the ball pop out of Cassel’s hand and happily accepted the gift of a fumble right to him. Oliver corralled the ball and took it 40 yards for a touchdown, the most profitable of four forced turnovers by a Chargers defense that’s gotten pretty good at that sort of thing.
    “It’s my first touchdown, so that’s special, but I won’t let that one play define my season,” said Oliver. “That happens at the end of the season when we see how we do as a team and a defense and I ask myself what I did to help.”
    Until now, Oliver mostly has been more of a peripheral player, though his name has popped up in key moments. Like his interception of Jay Cutler against Denver, a game in which the Chargers clinched the AFC West title of 2008, and the interception of Cassel that Oliver returned 34 yards in the first K.C. game this season.
    More and more, he’s been working his way into the defensive lineup, but it stands to reason that Oliver’s role will grow considerably with the knee injury to safety Eric Weddle. Oliver can be expected to see more time at free safety Sunday at Cleveland.
    “With Eric gone, we’ve got to move people around,” said Oliver yesterday. “(In the secondary,) we’re all versatile. We can work on the fly.”
    Versatility came to Oliver by necessity. He was a corner at Georgia, but the team that drafted him already had Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie. Still does.
    “It was humbling, eye-opening,” said Oliver. “I mean, I knew the situation coming out here. They were coming off a 14-2 year and had really good corners. How I came in here was really not typical of any rookie. I came in a day before rookie camp started, so a lot had been decided then.
    “I was told ‘Be patient. Don’t worry about playing now. Just learn as much as you can as quick as you can and be ready.’ That’s pretty much what I’ve done. It was a lot tougher, not playing, but good to be able to see a whole season, listen and learn. A lot of the things I saw then are helping me now.”
    The education in pro football also meant learning a new position. Positions, actually, strong and free safety.
    “Whole different mentality,” said Oliver. “At corner, there are a lot more one-on-one matchups. At safety, you’re playing off two or three people around. But if you’re a football player, you’re going to play football, no matter what position. The different process is the preparation.”
    Inactive for every game throughout his first season in San Diego — his first time west of the Mississippi, incidentally — Oliver broke onto the playing field on special teams last year. He said he felt himself becoming more a part of the Chargers’ plans after last year’s loss to the New Orleans Saints in London, which coincided with the promotion of Ron Rivera as the team’s new defensive coordinator.
    “He told me I was gonna have a chance,” said Oliver. “That’s all I needed to hear.”
    That supplemental thing will be part of his re´sume´ as long as he plays, a sort of mini-asterisk. Oliver filed for early entry to the NFL draft because he was declared academically ineligible for his senior season at Georgia.
    “It all definitely falls on me,” said Oliver. “I got lazy with class. I got caught looking ahead to the fall. But I’m going back to school. It’ll take me five years to do those last six classes, but it’ll get done.”
  2. Bergo23

    Bergo23 BoltTalker

    Sep 28, 2006
    Once Cro leaves, I hope the Bolts give this kid s shot at the Nickel in the slot. Cason can take over outside. I know that is the position Gregory has right now, but with another offseason under his belt, Oliver will be ready.

    I know he already plays with Weddle in the Nickel as a safety.

    I really hope he makes an impression on the staff the next two weeks when he has an incrased role with Weddle out.

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