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Roster Struggles; Offensive back field

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Aug 5, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    By Curtis Egan<em>
    BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <img src="http://i1.chargers.com/assets/177/32915_699w393h.jpg" title="LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers.com photo" alt="LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers.com photo" align="right" height="197" width="203" />Very few teams in the league can field such a talented offensive back field as the San Diego Chargers. Yes there are the New England's and Indianapolis' that host a great QB, and good RBs. But San Diego has an up and coming great QB and an elite RB. Couple that with a FB that has blocked for four or five consecutive 1000 yard running backs, and a back up that can be a starter on about 20 teams in this league and you start to see what the Chargers have to offer.

    General Manager AJ Smith and the scouting squad have been hitting home runs with the talent they have been able to bring into San Diego. Here we will look at three positions, all behind the line of scrimmage on the offensive side of the ball. The Quarterback, Running Back and fullback will be the focus of this Roster Struggles.

    This is one of the two spots where there will be little change on the roster, and it will not be at the starting position unless there is an injury involved. Philip Rivers took over the starting position from Drew Brees who signed a long term contract to throw the pig skin down in the Big Easy. Many of the talking heads of football analysts said that Sand Diego would suffer for shipping off a Pro Bowl Quarterback and putting in a wet behind the ears first year starter. Rivers proved them wrong while helping the Chargers to their best season statistically speaking.

    Last years active roster had Rivers, Volek, Whitehurst and Elliott on the practice squad. Elliott is eligible for one more season on the practice squad, and I do not see things changing at this time. I believe that Volek will remain the backup as they will want a veteran behind incumbent Rivers.

    <em>Running Back</em>
    LT, MT. They are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. When discussing Chargers running backs that is about all you have to say. LT, the leagues MVP last season returns as does his backup Michael Turner. With them on the current camp roster are Race (an excellent name for a RB), Gross, Buckley, and Sproles. That is six running backs for what was five active roster spots last season and two practice squad spots. The young players will be playing for depth. Filled is the main starting position and the primary backup. Sproles will attempt to regain his position as returner and situational back after a training camp injury cost him the entire '06 season. Gross will try and make the active roster after spending some of last season on the practice squad.

    This position will only see change in regards to depth but that doesn't mean that the players will play any less hard for them.

    "He can't block me! He can't block me, he is a little boy!" Those were the words of fan favorite fullback Lorenzo Neal during a recent game. Lorenzo is a huge man who's job it is to knock other people down and out. A job he seems to enjoy quite a bit as evident in his playing style of '06. On one run where Lorenzo was out in the open he ran back a few yards to deliver a nice hit on the defender who was perusing him. The Chargers had two fullbacks on the active roster last season, Neil and Pinnock. The practice squad had no fullback on it. So this will be a tight race for the four fullbacks in camp which includes last season's active fullbacks as well as Naanee, and Warren. Pinnock cannot consider himself a shoe in either. He will have to show the team that he is a better backup to Lo'Neil than the others to remain on the team.

    So who are the show in's? While these positions do not have the drama of the line positions or the wide receivers each player will be struggling in camp to retain their spot or earn one.

    <strong>CONCUDAN'S SHOE IN'S</strong>


    <strong>#17 Philip Rivers, QB, 3 year veteran</strong>
    After patiently waiting his turn through his first two seasons, Philip Rivers blossomed into everything that he was billed to be coming out of college. He led the Chargers to a franchise-record 14 wins and earned a nod for the 2007 Pro Bowl. In spite of being in just his first season as a starter, Rivers played with the confidence and poise of a seasoned veteran. He completed nearly 62 percent of his passes, threw more than twice as many touchdowns as he did interceptions and posted a first-year passer rating that ranked right up there with some of the league's greats. Only one other starting QB, St. Louis' Marc Bulger, threw more TD passes and fewer interceptions. More importantly, Philip delivered leadership. While guiding the team to 14 wins, he helped orchestrate come-from-behind wins on the road in three of the NFL's most hostile stadiums: Cincinnati, Denver and Seattle, including a win over the Seahawks in which he threw a 37-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson in a steady rain with 29 seconds left to play. The comeback wins over the Bengals and Broncos saw the Chargers overcome 21 and 17-point deficits, respectively, marking the first time in NFL history that a team had erased a 17-point deficit in back-to-back weeks. Rivers showed a cool hand in hot situations, especially with games on the line. He posted the NFL's highest fourth-quarter passer rating and its fourth-highest rating in the second half of games. The Chargers closed out the season by winning their last 10 games and finished undefeated at home for the first time in team history. Rivers helped the Bolts score a team-record 492 points, including a stretch during the season in which the Chargers capped off 19 consecutive scoring drives with touchdowns. The stretch set a new team record and was the fifth-longest in NFL history.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Selected to play in 2007 Pro Bowl...recipient of Rodney Culver Memorial Award as Chargers Offensive Player of Year in voting by teammates...led NFL in fourth quarter passer rating (116.6), going 58 of 88 for 798 yards with seven TDs and one INT...NFL's second-highest-rated passer in second half of games (99.3), going 123 or 203 for 1,616 yards with 12 scores and three picks...made his first career start Sept. 11 at Oakland and earned first career victory in 27-0 win...completed 73 percent of passes (8 of 11) and finished game with 133.0 passer rating...threw four-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates for 20-0 lead in fourth quarter...two plays before Gates' touchdown, completed game-long 38-yard pass to Eric Parker on third-and-seven play while being hit by Warren Sapp right as he released ball...since 1995, was second-highest completion percentage and third-highest passer rating for NFL quarterback making first career start in season opener....

    Chargers Alumni Player of Week after 40-7 win over Tennessee Sept. 17...threw 12-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson on third-and-eight play in fourth quarter...completed 71 percent of passes against Titans, going 25 of 35...during first-quarter touchdown drive that gave Bolts 10-0 lead, Rivers completed 25-yard pass to Eric Parker on third-and-nine play and later in drive set up touchdown with two-yard leap over pile on fourth-and-one play from six-yard line...threw 31-yard touchdown pass to Malcom Floyd in first quarter at Baltimore Oct. 1...featured on Sports Illustrated's "Who's Hot" list after leading Bolts to 23-13 win over defending Super Bowl Champion Steelers Oct. 8...threw nine-yard touchdown pass to Malcom Floyd on third-and-two play to erase 10-0 deficit in second quarter and 22-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates in third quarter to give Bolts lead at 17-13...during Floyd touchdown drive, completed 10-yard pass to Keenan McCardell on third-and-five play and 22-yard pass to Gates on third-and-11 play...during Gates touchdown drive, completed 16 and 25-yard passes to Eric Parker on successive third-and-seven plays...helped seal victory over Steelers with 15-yard run on third-and-nine play late in fourth quarter as drive ended with field goal that gave Chargers 23-13 lead in final minutes of game...finished Steelers game with career-high 37 pass attempts...AFC Offensive Player of Week and FedEx Air NFL Player of Week after recording first-career 300-yard game with 334 yards and pair of touchdowns at San Francisco Oct. 15...completed 29-of-39 without any interceptions for passer rating of 116.8...had stretch of 13 straight completions in first half, equaling third-longest stretch in team history...during completion streak, racked up 195 yards through air and two scores, including 57-yard catch-and-run by Antonio Gates and 33-yard bomb to end zone to Vincent Jackson...completed 14 of his first 15 passes of game, with lone incompletion being intentionally thrown away...led four scoring drives in game during which he did not throw single incompletion, including three touchdown drives and one field goal drive...was even better on third downs against S.F., completing 9-of-10 for 142 yards and touchdown...he converted 7-of-10 for first downs and added two first downs rushing on third-and-one plays...after throwing interception that led to touchdown and losing fumble that led to another in the first half, Rivers bounced back in second half and completed 8-of-12 for 104 yards and two touchdowns (133.3 second-half passer rating) Oct. 22 at Kansas City...rallied squad from a 20-6 halftime deficit with touchdown passes of one yard to Gates on third-and-goal from one in third quarter and 37 yards to Tomlinson on fourth-and-three early in fourth quarter...posted third game this season with passer rating over 100 in Oct. 29 win over St. Louis...was efficient 15-of-23 for 206 yards and touchdown for rating of 108.2...helped Bolts jump out to 14-7 lead in first half by completing 10-of-14 for 121 yards and 97.6 rating...of his four incompletions in first half, one was intentional throw-away...hit on his first four passes of game for 70 yards, including 3-of-3 for 54 yards during game-opening touchdown drive...sensational on third downs against Rams, completing 6-of-9 for 101 yards and a touchdown (141.1 rating)...threw lone touchdown pass, good for 25 yards to LT on third-and-eight play in fourth quarter, to give Bolts 38-17 lead to seal victory...did not throw touchdown pass for first time of season in 32-25 win over Cleveland Nov. 5...NBC Football Night in America's Player of Day and SportsIllustrated.com Offensive Player of Week after passing for 337 yards and three touchdowns as he helped lead Chargers to improbable 49-41 come-from behind victory over Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Nov. 12...helped Chargers overcome first-half deficits of 21-0 and 28-7 as Bolts scored team-record 42 points in second half...threw all three of his touchdown passes in second half, including throws of 46 yards to Malcom Floyd and 9 and 5 yards to Brandon Manumaleuna...completed 19-of-25 for 291 yards and three scores after Bolts fell behind 21-0 and three of incompletions were intentional throwaways...completed passes to eight different receivers...led drives of 59, 69, 46, 80, 40, nine and 72 yards during comeback and team scored touchdowns on all six possessions inside 20-yard line...his last touchdown drive of game was possibly his most impressive as he engineered 12-play, 72-drive that ate up 5:19 on clock as Chargers held slight 42-41 lead and he capped it with five-yard touchdown pass to Manumaleuna on third-and-goal to stretch Bolts' lead to 49-41...completed 4-of-7 for 52 yards on that drive, including 12-yard pass to Malcom Floyd on third-and-nine, 27-yard pass to Antonio Gates on third-and-eight, and touchdown pass on third down...finished Cincinnati game with passer rating of 124.4, second-highest of season (Oakland, 133.9)...went 9-or-11 for 113 yards and touchdown on third-down plays against Bengals, including 8-of-8 for 93 yards and touchdown (154.7 rating) in second half...seven of those eight second-half third-down passes went for first downs...was second 300-yard game of season...did not throw any interceptions in 36 pass attempts against Cincinnati, extending streak to three straight games (15 quarters) and 122 consecutive passes without throwing interception, longest active streak in NFL...completed 73 percent of his passes (19-of-26) in 35-27 come-from-behind win in Denver Nov. 19...led Chargers from 17-point deficit (24-7) becoming first ever QB to lead team from at least 17 point deficit in consecutive weeks...showed a lot of resiliency against Broncos, battling back after throwing interception that was returned 31 yards for touchdown to give Denver 24-7 lead...on very next series after INT, led seven-play, 60-yard touchdown drive during which he completed all four of his pass attempts for 54 yards...completed comeback by throwing 51-yard touchdown pass to Tomlinson on third-and-three play and then gave Chargers lead when he completed 4 of 4 for 37 yards, including five-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson...completed 11 of 13 for 148 yards and two touchdowns on three scoring drives after interception...early in game, Chargers jumped out to 7-0 lead on 99-yard drive in which Rivers completed 5-of-5 for 59 yards...was Bolts' longest drive since Nov. 25, 2001...Rivers fourth pass of game was intercepted by Broncos Nick Ferguson, ending streak of 125 consecutive passes thrown without interception...at time, was longest active streak in NFL...was first interception since Oct. 22 game at Kansas City...led Chargers on three touchdown drives against Oakland Nov. 26, marking 19-straight scoring drives that ended in touchdowns to set new team record...previous mark was 17 in 1981...threw 11-yard touchdown pass to Gates in Dec. 3 win at Buffalo...engineered season-long 8:06 drive late in fourth quarter to seal victory as team traveled 80 yards in 13 plays for touchdown and 24-14 lead over Bills...completed 4-of-4 for 47 yards on drive...racked up season-high 136.0 passer rating against Denver Dec. 10 after completing 15-of-23 for 279 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions...posted a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in first half after going 11-of-13 for 180 yards and two touchdowns...after throwing incompletion on second pass attempt of game, he proceeded to complete his next eight passes for 133 yards and touchdown...threw 12-yard TD pass to Gates in first quarter and seven yarder to Gates in second quarter...Rivers didn't have many completions in Dec. 24 game at Seattle (10-of-30), but he made them count...lone completion in first half was good for nine-yard touchdown to Vincent Jackson...late in fourth quarter, he delivered picture-perfect 37-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Jackson with 29 seconds left...closed out season by completing career-high 79.2 percent (19-of-24) vs. Arizona Dec. 31...posted 117.2 passer rating against Cardinals, fourth-highest of season and second-highest at home...Rivers was at his best during two second-quarter touchdown drives when he went 9-for-10 for 135 yards and two scores for perfect 158.3 passer rating...threw TD passes of 33 yards to Antonio Gates and 14 yards to Vincent Jackson...despite playing with foot sprain, finished first half against Arizona 17-of-20 for 196 yards and two TDs for 120.0 rating...connected with LT for 58-yard screen pass to set up second quarter touchdown in Jan. 14 playoff game against New England...did not play in 2007 Pro Bowl while recovering from foot injury.

    <strong>#7 Billy Volek, QB, 7 year veteran</strong>
    Acquired in an early-season trade with the Tennessee Titans in 2006, quarterback Billy Volek is the backup to Philip Rivers in San Diego.

    Billy spent 10 years of his childhood in the small town of Walla Walla, Wash., where former Titans' teammate Peter Sirmon and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe were raised. Volek, who is the same age as Sirmon and four years younger than Bledsoe, became friends with both future NFL players at an early age. Billy's older brother, Joe, was best friends with Sirmon's older brother, John. Billy's dad, John Volek, is a former head football coach at Sacramento State and Fresno (Calif.) City College and is now the athletic director at Sierra College in Rocklin, California.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Spent Weeks 1-2 as third quarterback for Tennessee Titans...was inactive as third quarterback for Chargers Weeks 3-5...did not play as backup quarterback Weeks 6-15...saw limited action Week 16 against Arizona while Philip Rivers was out with foot injury...took one snap at end of first quarter and took over at end of third quarter...did not play in playoff game vs. New England.

    <strong>#6 Charlie Whitehurst, QB, 1 year veteran</strong>
    In the third round of last year's NFL Draft, the Chargers added a second-generation NFL quarterback to the roster with the selection of former Clemson University standout Charlie Whitehurst. An honor roll student throughout his college career, Charlie earned his degree in marketing in December, 2004, a full year before his eligibility expired.

    Charlie left the Clemson, South Carolina campus as the Atlantic Coast Conference's third all-time leading passer. One of the players who ranked ahead of him is now a teammate in San Diego, starting quarterback Philip Rivers.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Did not play Weeks 1, 3-4...took over for Philip Rivers late in fourth quarter of Tennessee game Sept. 17 and scored first-career NFL touchdown on 14-yard run...played one series against Titans and did not attempt any passes...closed out S.F. game Oct. 15 with kneel down on final play of game...inactive as third quarterback Weeks 6-16 and for playoff game vs. New England.

    <em>Running Back</em>
    <strong>#21 LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, 6 year veteran, 2007 League MVP</strong>
    LaDainian Tomlinson represents what's good about sports today. To steal a line from one of his best friends and his backfield mate, Lorenzo Neal, Tomlinson is "Superman without the cape." He is the National Football League's preeminent superstar and he represents all that is good about football players and professional athletes, both on and off the field.

    "LT," as he is known by his legion of fans around the world, had a season for the ages in 2006 as he set NFL records with 31 total touchdowns and 28 rushing touchdowns. His outstanding season was capped off in January when the NFL bestowed two of its highest honors upon LT, selecting him as its Most Valuable Player and its Man of the Year. They are two of the highest honors in all of professional sports and certainly deserving for a young man who represents the NFL with the utmost class, dignity and respect.

    <strong>2006:</strong> NFL Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of Year and first-team All-Pro by Associated Press...received 44 of possible 50 MVP votes, 38 of possible 50 OPOY votes and was unanimous All-Pro choice...runner up to Tiger Woods for AP Male Athlete of Year Award...shared Walter Payton NFL Man of Year Award with Drew Brees...starter in 2007 Pro Bowl...named Best Player in NFL by Sports Illustrated and Sportsman of Year by Sporting News...also named NFL Player of Year and All-Pro by TSN...48th Annual Bert Bell Award winner as Professional Player of Year by Maxwell Football Club...named Running Back of Year by NFL Alumni Association...MVP, Offensive Player of Year, first-team All-NFL and first-team All-AFC by Pro Football Weekly and Professional Football Writers of America...FedEx Ground NFL Player of Year as voted by fans on NFL.com...MVP and Offensive Player of Year by CBS Sportsline.com...MVP and Offensive Player of Year by Dallas Morning News...also named All-Pro by USA Today Sports Weekly, ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated.com...selected as Chargers' Most Valuable Player by teammates...named to NFL.com's All-Interview Team and selected as PFWA's "Good Guy" for dealings with media...set NFL records with 31 total touchdowns, 28 rushing touchdowns and 186 total points...rushed for 1,815 yards to win league's rushing title...became first Charger to win NFL rushing crown...racked up 2,323 total yards from scrimmage, sixth-most in NFL history...averaged 11.6 points per game, fifth-highest average in NFL history and most since Paul Hornung averaged 12.2 ppg for Green Bay in 1961...with 31 touchdowns in 404 total touches, recorded NFL's second-highest ratio of touchdowns per times handling ball in league history (13.0)...only St. Louis' Marshall Faulk had better ratio (12.85), scoring 26 TDs in 334 touches in 2000...scored more rushing touchdowns (28) than any other team in the league, with Jacksonville (23) being closest...became fifth player in NFL history to score more rushing touchdowns than any other team...FedEx Ground NFL Player of Week after rushing for 131 yards and touchdown on 31 carries in Sept. 11 season opener at Oakland...58-yard run late in first quarter set up one-yard touchdown run four plays later...tied fifth-longest run of his career on 58 yarder...was sixth career 100-yard game against Raiders...became 63rd player in NFL history to surpass 10,000 career yards from scrimmage in Sept. 17 win over Tennessee...crossed 10,000-yard threshold with five-yard run on second-and-four play with 2:11 remaining in second quarter...tied Jim Brown (81 games) as third-fastest players in NFL history to reach 10,000 career yards (Edgerrin James, 78 games &amp; Eric Dickerson, 80 games)...rushed for two touchdowns against Titans, 82nd and 83rd of career, on four and eight-yard runs in second quarter to tie Lance Alworth's team record for career touchdowns...was 17th career game with two or more rushing TDs...also led team with seven catches against Titans...FedEx Ground NFL Player of Week and Chargers Alumni Player of Week after tying team record and scoring career-high four rushing touchdowns in 48-19 win at San Francisco Oct. 15...marked 19th team record he either owns or shares...scored two times each from one and five yards out...became third player in team history to rush for four scores in game, matching feat achieved first by Clarence Williams against Buffalo in 1979 and later by Chuck Muncie against Denver in 1981...his first touchdown run of game, five-yard run in first quarter, was 84th of his career, giving him sole possession of team's all-time touchdowns record which he had shared with HOF wide receiver Lance Alworth...overcame early fumble and was responsible for two touchdowns in Oct. 22 game at Kansas City...his 37-yard touchdown catch-and-run on fourth-and-three play in fourth quarter allowed Bolts to get within seven points of Chiefs at 27-20...then after takeaway by Bolts' defense, Tomlinson threw one-yard TD pass to Brandon Manumaleuna on third-and-goal play from one-yard line, fifth TD pass of his career, to tie game at 27-27...against St. Louis Oct. 29, LT scored three times, including twice on ground and once through air...they were 89th, 90th and 91st touchdowns of his career...Rams game was 86th of career, tying him with Emmitt Smith as second-fastest player in NFL history to 90 TDs...scored 90th TD on 38-yard run in first quarter, longest TD run of season...after being held for five games without 100 yards on ground, Tomlinson erupted for 183 against St. Louis, eighth-highest single-game total of his career...included in effort was 51-yard run during third-quarter field goal drive, which was 11th run of 50+ yards during his career and second of season...early in fourth quarter, he went over 8,000 rushing yards for his career, becoming eighth player in NFL history to do so in fewer than 90 games...had three catches for 57 yards against Rams, including 25-yard touchdown catch on third-and-eight play to give Chargers 38-17 lead late in fourth quarter...started drive by recovering onsides kick and also had 14-yard run on second-and-nine play during drive...earlier in final quarter, set up Michael Turner touchdown run with 26-yard catch to St. Louis 14-yard line on third-and-nine play...finished Rams game with 240 total yards from scrimmage, most by any player in league at that point of season...AFC Offensive Player of Month for November...AFC Offensive Player of Week, FedEx Ground NFL Player of Week and CBS Radio-Westwood One Amtrak Player of Week after rushing for 172 yards and three touchdowns against Cleveland Nov. 5...was ninth-highest single-game rushing total of career...after being limited to 43 yards and no touchdowns on seven carries in first half, Tomlinson exploded for 129 yards and three touchdowns in second...scores came from 41, 7 and 8 yards...his 41-yard TD in late third quarter turned 12-10 deficit into 17-12 lead, which Chargers would not relinquish...was his 14th-career carry of 40+ yards...later added 32-yard carry on Bolts' final TD drive...averaged 9.6 yards per carry against Browns (18 for 172), second-highest single-game average of career...became first player since 2003 and the fifth player since 2000 to rush for 170+ yards and two touchdowns in consecutive games...FedEx Ground NFL Player of Week, SportsIllustrated.com Offensive Player of Week and USA Today Stud of Week after scoring four touchdowns Nov. 12 in Cincinnati to set NFL record with 15 touchdowns in last five games...helped lead Chargers to improbable 49-41 come-from-behind victory over Bengals...scored three of his four touchdowns in second half, including his fourth with 14:40 left in fourth quarter to give Chargers their first lead of game at 42-38 and help erase 21-point first-half deficit...the touchdown came one play after Shaun Phillips recorded a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery and was LT's second touchdown in 15 seconds...he had just scored from two yards out with 14:55 left to make score 38-35...touchdowns for game were scored from 9, 4, 2 and 9 yards...finished game with 104 yards rushing, marking third-straight 100-yard game, tying longest stretch of his career...had perhaps biggest run of game on third-and-two late in fourth quarter taking toss-pitch 14 yards to sustain drive that would end in touchdown and give Chargers 49-41 edge...four-touchdown effort against Bengals was his second of season, tying NFL record for single-season four-touchdown games shared by Shaun Alexander (2005) and Jim Taylor (1962)...Tomlinson now has 18 touchdowns on the season, joining Alexander (2005) as the only players in NFL history to score 15 or more touchdowns in five consecutive seasons...AFC Offensive Player of Week, FedEx Ground NFL Player of Week, SportsIllustrated.com Offensive Player of Week and USA Today Stud of Week after scoring four touchdowns in 35-27 win at Denver Nov. 19...were 99th, 100th, 101st and 102nd touchdowns of career...three of touchdowns were on rushes (3, 3 and 1 yard) and one on reception (51 yards)...touchdown catch was sixth-longest reception of career...catch was third touchdown of night and 21st of season, setting new team record...combined with his 20 touchdowns in 2005, Tomlinson becomes fifth player in NFL history to score 20 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons...became fastest player in NFL history to score 100 touchdowns (89 games), easily surpassing Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith (93 games)...became 20th player in NFL history to score 100 touchdowns...scored NFL-record 19 touchdowns in last six games, including back-to-back four-touchdown games...was third time of season he scored four touchdowns in game (NFL record) and became third player in league history to score four touchdowns in back-to-back games, joining Jim Taylor (1962) and Marshall Faulk (2000)...

    four touchdowns against Broncos raised season total to 22, setting new Chargers' single-season mark and breaking old mark (20), which he had set in 2005...they are also most touchdowns ever scored in first 10 games of season...scored three times on ground at Invesco Field, raising his season rushing TD total to 19, tying team's single-season mark held by Chuck Muncie (1981)...his three rushing touchdowns against Broncos were 89th, 90th and 91st of career, making him NFL's second-fastest player to score 90 rushing touchdowns (89 games)...Emmitt Smith was fastest (88 games)...Tomlinson became 13th player in NFL history to score 90 rushing TDs...scored 10 rushing touchdowns in last three games alone, including three against Cleveland, four at Cincinnati and three at Denver to become first player in league history to score three or more rushing TDs in three straight games...including touchdown catch against St. Louis Oct. 29, Tomlinson scored three or more touchdowns in four consecutive games, becoming first NFL player to do so...rushed for 105 yards against Broncos, first-career 100-yard game in Mile High City...it was his fourth game in row with over 100 yards, marking first such stretch in his career...on Chargers' fourth-quarter drive in which they scored touchdown to take lead at 28-27, Tomlinson started drive with 15-yard run that put him over 1,000 yards for season...he's rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first six NFL seasons and is one of only five players to do so, joining Barry Sanders (first 10 seasons, 1989-1998), Curtis Martin (10, 1995-2004), Eric Dickerson (7, 1983-89) and Corey Dillon (6, 1997-2002)...scored two rushing touchdowns, including 10-yard game-winner late in fourth quarter, and threw 19-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates in 21-14 win over Oakland Nov. 26...was sixth career touchdown pass, tied for second-most all-time by non-quarterback with Keith Byars, Greg Pruitt and Marcus Allen...racked up 109 rushing yards against Raiders...scored Chargers' first touchdown on four-yard run in second quarter...was 20th rushing TD of season, setting new team single-season record (19, Chuck Muncie, 1981)...that touchdown raised his season point total to 138, which also set new team record for single-season scoring (135, John Carney, 1994)...scored game-winner late in fourth quarter on 10-yard run...went over 100 yards rushing for day on touchdown, marking career-best fifth-straight 100 yard game...set up touchdown run with 44-yard carry on first play of drive...after running to his left most of day, ran cutback to right and took off down sidelines untouched...five plays later he took it to house and delivered Bolts 21-14 lead...FedEx Ground NFL Player of Week, SportsIllustrated.com Offensive Player of Week and USA Today Stud of Week after scoring two touchdowns Dec. 3 in Buffalo while rushing for 178 yards...extending longest streak of 100-yard games during career to six...increased season TD total to 26, most-ever through first 12 games of season...first touchdown run covered 51 yards in first quarter and put him over 1,200 yards rushing for season...joined Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson as only two players in NFL history to rush for more than 1,200 yards in each of their first six NFL seasons...51-yard run was his longest touchdown run since 2003...was his 12th-career run of 50+ yards and tied for 11th-longest of career...went over 100-yard mark on 22-yard run in second quarter...his second touchdown of day, two-yarder late in fourth quarter, gave Bolts seemingly insurmountable 24-14 lead and capped off 8:06 drive that was Chargers' longest of season...Bills game was LT's sixth-consecutive multi-touchdown game, tying Emmitt Smith (1994) for league's second-longest streak...was seventh 100-yard rushing game of season, tying team's single-season record (Don Woods, 1974 and LT, 2002)...averaged lofty 6.4 yards per carry against Bills (28 for 178), third-highest average of season and second-highest in game with at least 25 carries...AFC Offensive Player of Week, FedEx Ground NFL Player of Week, CBS Radio-Westwood One Amtrak Player of Week and SportsIllustrated.com Offensive Player of Week after scoring 27th, 28th and 29th touchdowns of year Dec. 10 against Denver to set new NFL single-season touchdown record...broke previous mark of 28 set by Seattle's Shaun Alexander in 2005...scored from one, six and seven yards out...set NFL record for fifth game of season with at least three rushing touchdowns...previous mark (four games) was held by New York Giants' Joe Morris (1985) and Kansas City's Priest Holmes (2003)...raised career touchdown total to 109 and moved into tie with Barry Sanders (1989-1998) for 12th place on NFL's all-time list...was seventh-consecutive multi-touchdown game, tying NFL record set by former Washington Redskin John Riggins in 1983...finished Broncos game with 103 yards rushing, going over 100-yard mark on record-breaking touchdown run in fourth quarter...was his career-best seventh-consecutive 100-yard rushing game...was eighth 100-yard game of season, setting new franchise record...AFC Offensive Player of Week, FedEx Ground NFL Player of Week and USA Today Stud of Week after rushing for season-high 199 yards on NBC's Sunday Night Football Dec. 17 against Kansas City...eighth consecutive 100-yard game and ninth of season...fifth-highest single-game rushing total in NFL this season and sixth-highest team history...scored two rushing touchdowns in Chiefs game, 99th and 100th of his career...became fastest player in NFL history to score 100 rush TDs (93 games), beating Emmitt Smith (99 games)...became seventh player in NFL history with 100, joining Smith (164), Marcus Allen (123), Walter Payton (110), Jim Brown (106), John Riggins (104) and Marshall Faulk (100)...on first TD of game, 15-yard run in first quarter, broke Paul Hornung's NFL single-season scoring record (176 points), set in 1960...finished K.C. game with two TDs, increasing season scoring total to 186 points...scored second TD of game on career-long 85-yard run...on that play, he set new NFL single-season record for rushing touchdowns (28), breaking previous mark (27) shared by Shaun Alexander (2005) and Priest Holmes (2003)...85-yard run was third-longest in team history and Bolts' longest since 1962...Paul Lowe had 87-yard TD run at Dallas on 9/10/61 and Keith Lincoln had 86-yard run at Oakland 9/30/62...Chiefs game was eighth-consecutive multi-touchdown game, also setting new NFL record...previous mark (seven) was set by former Washington Redskin John Riggins in 1983...on 85-yard TD run, he went over 2,000 scrimmage yards for season, marking third time during his career and first time since 2003 that he's gone over 2,000 yards in season...finished K.C. game with 204 total yards from scrimmage (199 rushing and 5 receiving) for his second 200-yard game of season...rushed for 123 yards in Seattle on Christmas Eve, his ninth-straight 100-yard game...tied for third most consecutive 100-yard games in NFL history with Walter Payton, Fred Taylor, Deuce McAllister and Larry Johnson...finished game with new team single-season rushing record of 1,749 yards...went over 9,000 rushing yards for his career during Seahawks game to join Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders as fourth-fastest players in NFL history to do so (94 games)...set up first touchdown of game with 62-yard run in second quarter...later had 48-yard run on opening drive of third quarter negated by personal foul penalty...rushed for 66 yards against Arizona Dec. 31 to finish season with 1,815 yards and claim NFL rushing title...officially won title on eight-yard run in second quarter...became first Charger in NFL history to win league's rushing crown...finished Cardinals game with 80 total yards from scrimmage to go over 12,000-yard mark for career (12,076)...finished second in NFL with 2,323 yards from scrimmage...was the second-most in season in team history and the sixth-most in a season in NFL history...had 16 carries against Cardinals to finish season with 348, second-most for season in team history...rushed for 123 yards in Jan. 14 AFC playoff game against Patriots...58-yard catch-and-run on screen pass in second quarter was longest postseason pass play in team history and fifth-longest reception of his career...finished game with 187 total yards from scrimmage, most by Charger in postseason game since Keith Lincoln's team-record 329-yard performance in 1963 AFL Championship Game against Boston Patriots Jan. 5, 1964...scored two touchdowns on rushes of two and three yards to become first player in team history to score two rushing touchdowns in playoff game...also only fifth time in team history player scored two touchdowns in playoff game...started and rushed for game-high 51 yards on 10 carries in 2007 Pro Bowl...scored touchdown on three-yard run early in third quarter to give AFC 21-14 advantage.

    <strong>#33 Michael Turner, RB, 3 year veteran</strong>
    Michael Turner became one of the NFL's hottest commodities in 2006. He is feared not only as a powerful and bruising running back, but also as one of the league's steadiest kickoff return men. His services are so highly coveted that Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith placed the highest possible tender on Turner, requiring first and third-round draft picks from any team interested in signing the Bolts budding star.

    Turner and NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson gave the Bolts running game a potent 1-2 punch as San Diego set a team record and ranked second in the league with 2,578 yards rushing. Turner was responsible for 502 of those yards and his 6.3-yard per carry average was the second-highest in the league among the NFL's Top 50 rushers.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Selected to USA Today's All-Joe Team...capped off season opening 27-0 win at Oakland with one-yard touchdown run in fourth quarter...racked up second-career 100-yard game with 138 yards against Tennessee Sept. 17...30-yard run on first play of fourth quarter helped move Chargers into scoring position and set up touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson to give Bolts 33-0 edge over Titans...set up Bolts' final touchdown of game with 73-yard run late in fourth quarter, tying for seventh-longest run from scrimmage in team history...took ball from Chargers' 12-yard line to Titans' 15-yard line and two plays later, Charlie Whitehurst scored on 14-yard run for final points in 40-7 win...led team with 56 yards rushing in Oct. 8 Sunday Night Football game against Pittsburgh...then-career-long 51-yard kickoff return on opening kickoff of second half led to field goal that cut deficit to 13-10 and set stage for quarter in which Bolts outscored Steelers 10-0 to seize control of game...helped Chargers to first touchdown with five-yard carry on third-and-one play during game's opening drive against St. Louis Oct. 29...Bolts scored touchdown three plays later to take 7-0 lead...then helped put away Rams with 14-yard touchdown run that gave Bolts 31-10 lead early in fourth quarter...21-yard run helped set up team's final touchdown in 32-25 win over Cleveland Nov. 5...helped ignite Chargers' second-half comeback win in Cincinnati with season-high 188 yards in kickoff returns, including 49 yarder in third quarter that helped ignite touchdown drive...also had 49-yard return in first half against Bengals...had two 40+ returns in Nov. 19 win at Denver that both ignited touchdown drives...in third quarter, 40-yard return after Denver scored TD on INT return helped start touchdown drive that got Chargers back to within 10 points (24-14)...then in fourth quarter after Denver kicked field goal to take 27-21 lead, had 44-yard return that set up drive which ended with touchdown pass that allowed Bolts to seize lead, 28-27...strained hamstring in practice week leading up to Oakland game Nov. 26 and was inactive Weeks 11-13...returned to action Week 14 vs. K.C. and helped set up Chargers' first touchdown of game with 25-yard run on perfectly executed fake punt in first quarter...led to 15-yard TD run by Tomlinson three plays later...in third quarter after Chiefs had kicked field goal to get within 14-6, broke off season-long 58-yard kickoff return that would set up field goal to push lead back to 11 points at 17-6...helped set up early third-quarter field goal at Seattle with 21-yard run...carry came on first-and-21 play right after Tomlinson had 48-yard touchdown run negated by penalty...four plays later Bolts kicked FG for 10-0 lead...played entire fourth quarter against Arizona Dec. 31 and had four big carries late in the period after Cardinals had kicked field goal to climb within 27-20...rushed four straight times for 19 yards, including three-yard rush on late third-and-two play...two plays after first down, Lorenzo Neal popped 43-yard run to put game away...scored first-career postseason touchdown on six-yard run in Jan. 14 divisional playoff game against New England.

    <strong>#41 Lorenzo Neal, FB, 14 year veteran</strong>
    Lorenzo must have found the fountain of youth because he shows no signs of slowing down. A perennial pro bowler who's love for the game is infections; a true fan favorite player in San Diego.

    Pound for pound, Lorenzo Neal is the preeminent fullback in the National Football League. His credentials speak for themselves. He's been a lead blocker for 10 straight 1,000-yard rushers and a Pro Bowl starter the last two seasons. Only two position players in the league, Green Bay's Brett Favre (239) and Kansas City's Will Shields (224), have played in more consecutive games than Lorenzo (208). Even at the age of 36, Neal shows no signs of slowing down. In March, Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith rewarded the 15-year veteran with a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the Chargers through the 2010 season.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Starter in 2007 Pro Bowl...first-team All-Pro selection by Associated Press, USA Today Sports Weekly and ESPN.com...helped clear way for 194-yard rushing effort in Sept. 11 season opening 27-0 win at Oakland...Bolts scored two rushing touchdowns, one each by LT and Michael Turner...helped clear holes and open running lanes for 241-yard rushing effort against Tennessee in 40-7 Week 2 that included two rushing touchdowns by Tomlinson...helped Chargers rush for 150 yards against Baltimore Week 3...Ravens defense had only been allowing 34.3 yards per game on ground coming into contest...cleared way for 119 rushing yards against Pittsburgh, Oct. 8...Steelers had come into game ranked fourth against run and only allowing 78.3 yards per game on ground...helped Tomlinson tie team record and set career high with four rushing touchdowns Oct. 15 at San Francisco...lead blocker for 216-yard, three-touchdown effort against St. Louis Oct. 29...played in 200th-consecutive game and helped Chargers rush for 190 yards and three scores in 32-25 win over Cleveland Nov. 5...helped clear way for Tomlinson to rush for 104 yards and four touchdowns in 49-41 win at Cincinnati Nov. 12...opened holes for Tomlinson to rush for 105 yards and three scores in 35-27 win at Denver Nov. 19...during game, Tomlinson went over 1,000 yards for season, marking 10th-straight year Neal was lead blocker for 1,000-yard rusher...had three carries in Broncos' game with two going for first downs on third-and-one plays...helped block for 110-yard and two-touchdown effort against Oakland Nov. 26...Chargers Alumni Player of Week after helping Bolts rush for 197 yards and two touchdowns in 24-21 win at Buffalo Dec. 3...threw key blocks on both of Tomlinson's touchdown runs against Bills, covering 51 and two yards...scored first touchdown of season against Denver Dec. 10 on four-yard run on trick play called "Bumarooski" late in first quarter...was first rushing touchdown since Sept. 28, 2003 at Oakland and gave Bolts 14-0 lead...helped set up touchdown with six-yard run on third-and-one play two snaps before touchdown...threw key block on Kendrell Bell that sprung Tomlinson loose on career-long 85-yard touchdown run against Kansas City Dec. 17...was third-longest run in team history...helped contribute to Bolts racking up 265 rushing yards, fifth-most in team history...blocked for 168-yard game Dec. 24 at Seattle, including key block on 62-yard run by Tomlinson...logged 43-yard run to ice 27-20 win over Arizona Dec. 31...at end of run, also drew 15-yard face mask penalty that allowed Chargers to run out clock...run was second-longest of career and longest since 74-yard touchdown run for New Orleans during 1993 rookie season...helped clear way for Bolts to rush for 148 yards in divisional playoffs against New England Jan. 14...nine-yard reception to two-yard line set up first touchdown of game in second quarter.

    <strong>ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN</strong>

    <strong>#8 Brett Elliott, QB, 1 year veteran</strong>
    Lake Oswego's <a href="http://www.lakeoswegoreview.com/sports/story.php?story_id=118419100208156700" target="_blank">Brett Elliott</a> is ready to take his second shot at landing a roster spot with the San Diego Chargers. He thinks he's now prepared to prove that he belongs in the NFL.
    Elliott endured last year's preseason camp with the Chargers, managing to survive a series of roster cuts before the team's regular-season opener. But, even after an impressive exhibition performance against the San Francisco 49ers, Elliott was still relegated to the Chargers' practice squad.
    It wasn't exactly an unexpected move since the Chargers' coaching staff had given virtually all of the snaps in practice and preseason games to the three quarterbacks ahead of Elliott on the team's depth chart – Philip Rivers, A.J. Feeley and Charlie Whitehurst.

    Brett Spent last off season in the now defunct NFL Europa, Quarterbacking for the Rhein Fire.

    <strong>ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN</strong>

    <strong>#8 Brett Elliott, QB, 1 year veteran</strong>
    Lake Oswego's <a href="http://www.lakeoswegoreview.com/sports/story.php?story_id=118419100208156700" target="_blank">Brett Elliott</a> is ready to take his second shot at landing a roster spot with the San Diego Chargers. He thinks he's now prepared to prove that he belongs in the NFL.
    Elliott endured last year's preseason camp with the Chargers, managing to survive a series of roster cuts before the team's regular-season opener. But, even after an impressive exhibition performance against the San Francisco 49ers, Elliott was still relegated to the Chargers' practice squad.
    It wasn't exactly an unexpected move since the Chargers' coaching staff had given virtually all of the snaps in practice and preseason games to the three quarterbacks ahead of Elliott on the team's depth chart – Philip Rivers, A.J. Feeley and Charlie Whitehurst.

    Brett Spent last off season in the now defunct NFL Europa, Quarterbacking for the Rhein Fire.

    <strong>#35 Mike Warren, FB, 1 year veteran</strong>
    <strong>TRANSACTION HISTORY:</strong> Signed with New York Jets March 23, 2006-waived May 15, 2006-signed to New Orleans practice squad, Dec. 13, 2006-waived Jan. 2, 2007-signed two-year contract with Chargers, May 4, 2007.

    <strong>COLLEGE:</strong> First-team All-Big South Conference linebacker in 2002-in final two seasons at Elon, racked up 163 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and two sacks-redshirted as freshman at North Carolina State in 2000 and played sparingly in 2001-transferred to Elon for 2002-04 seasons.

    <strong>#34 Andrew Pinnock, RB / FB, 4 year veteran</strong>
    Andrew Pinnock is hungry to contribute in 2007.

    With LaDainian Tomlinson enjoying an MVP year and Michael Turner having a breakout year behind Pro Bowl fullback Lorenzo Neal, Pinnock's playing time was limited in 2006. Andrew though, is the heir apparent to Neal at fullback and he's optimistic that he'll see more playing time this season as new head coach Norv Turner implements a few wrinkles in the offense that should afford him more opportunities to see the field on Sundays.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Inactive Weeks 1-10, 14-16 and for divisional playoff game-played Weeks 11-13 while Michael Turner recovered from hamstring injury.

    <strong>#40 Legedu Naanee, WR / FB, fifth round pick out of Boise State</strong>
    Naanee might as well be called the San Diego Slash. I have heard his name mentioned in at least four different positions. That is good for a young and talented player who is looking to avoid the dreaded Turk.

    Versatile H-Back and wide receiver Legedu Naanee (LEG-a-doo Nah-NAY) from Boise State was part of the Broncos' squad that captured the nation's attention and shocked the college football establishment by upsetting the Oklahoma Sooners with a stunning come-from-behind, overtime win in the 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

    <strong>COLLEGE:</strong> First-team All-Western Athletic Conference choice as senior after leading team in receptions and touchdown catches...caught career-high seven passes for 129 yards and touchdown, his first-career 100-yard game, in Broncos' BCS bowl-clinching win over Nevada in season finale...also led squad in TD catches as junior...redshirted in 2002...played at Boise State from 2002-06...graduated in December 2006 with degree in business management.

    While one can look at the starting positions and be sure that the landscape will not change without some unforeseen accident, beneath that calm, placid surface swirls a series of competitions that will help set the depth for this team in some very critical areas. Each and every player will struggle to avoid the dreaded Turk, and the red cards he leaves in his wake.

    That is my opinion, what is yours?

    Note: In the Roster Struggles series I talk about the Practice Squad. I think it would be good to end this with a quick discussion about the practice squad:

    • The practice squad shall consist of the following players, provided that they have not served more than one previous season on a Practice Squad: (i) players who do not have an Accrued Season of NFL experience; and (ii) free agent players who were on the Active List for fewer than nine regular season games during their only Accrued Season(s). No player may be a practice squad player for more than two seasons.
    • A team can sign 8 players to their practice squad.
    • Any player under contract to a Club as a practice squad player shall be completely free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with any Club at any time during the League Year, to serve as a player on any Club's Active or Inactive List, and any Club is completely free to negotiate and sign such a Player Contract with such player, without penalty or restriction, including, but not limited to, Draft Choice Compensation between Club's or First Refusal Rights of any kind, or any signing period, except that such player shall not be permitted to sign a Player Contract with another Club to serve as a practice squad player while under contract as a practice squad player.

    <em>Player bio information source: Chargers.com</em>

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