1. Welcome to Los Angeles Chargers NFL Football Podcast and Forum!

    Bolt Talk is one of the largest online communities for the Los Angeles Chargers. We host a regular Chargers podcast during the season. You are currently viewing our community forums as a guest user.

    Sign Up or

    Having an account grants you additional privileges, such as creating and participating in discussions. Furthermore, we hide most of the ads once you register as a member!
    Dismiss Notice

Short Sproles, Washington are big-play guys

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Sep 21, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-jets-chargers&amp;prov=ap&amp;type=lgns" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>

    By Bernie Wilson

    <a href="http://www.sdhoc.com/main/articles/voiceonsports/Sproles07/Image00095794"><img class="alignright" title="Darren Sproles" src="http://www.sdhoc.com/main/articles/voiceonsports/Sproles07/Image00095794" alt="" width="131" height="189" /></a>In a game that's dominated by scary-big linemen who crush the scales at 300-plus pounds, it turns out there's plenty of room for mighty mites such as Darren Sproles of the San Diego Chargers and Leon Washington of the New York Jets.

    They'd need to stand on a Manhattan phone book or two just to pop above 6 feet.

    Put them in the open field, though, and defenders or cover guys suddenly look clumsy and clueless. Give them an opening and odds are pretty good they might not stop until they've gone 60, 80, 100 yards.

    Or 103 yards, which Sproles did a week ago in returning a kickoff for a touchdown that gave the San Diego Chargers a desperately needed spark at Denver. Filling in for the injured LaDainian Tomlinson, Sproles also caught a swing pass from Philip Rivers that he turned into a 66-yard, go-ahead score.

    The Chargers ended up losing 39-38, in part because of referee Ed Hochuli's blown call, but also because of an underperforming defense that seems to be spending too much time reading its press clippings.

    The Jets (1-1) certainly will be aware of Sproles in Monday night's game at Qualcomm Stadium-if they can see him coming. Likewise, the Chargers (0-2) will have to keep an eye on Washington.

    "What makes us dangerous is you can't see us until the last split second," Washington said. "A guy like Sproles, he's dangerous and the guy's been that way since he was at Kansas State. I'm aware of him and we're going to be aware of him. He's small, fast and quick and it's hard for a defender to tackle him.

    "I'm sure when Sproles was growing up, he did a lot of running around in the back yard and making people miss because he's small. I know about that, too," Washington added.

    "We're both shifty," Sproles said. "He might be a little bit taller than I am. He's like 5-8 maybe?"

    Washington is listed at 5-foot-8, 202 pounds; Sproles at 5-6, 181.

    Sproles agrees with Washington that defenders can't see them until the last second.

    "By the time they see you, it's too late. We're already up on them, especially when our linemen stand up," Sproles said. "They really can't see us then. They're maybe looking like through tiny cracks to see us, but by that time it's too late."

    Jets linebacker Calvin Pace added this about Sproles: "I haven't seen anybody catch him from the back, that's definite. You've got to know when he's on the field and be aware of him."

    Some have looked at Sproles in the past and considered him too small to be a running back. He disagrees.

    "A lot of people get caught up like the stereotype of being a running back in this league you've got to be big, you've got to be at least 6-foot. Uh-huh. That also makes you an easier target."

    Sproles and rookie fullback Mike Tolbert are both shorter than Tomlinson, the two-time defending NFL rushing champion who's 5-10.

    "In fact we make fun of them. We say that when they're in the backfield, it works well because the defense can't seen neither one of them," Tomlinson said with a laugh.

    Sproles' kickoff return last Sunday was merely the biggest play in a career day for the pint-sized pro. Sproles also had the 66-yard reception for a touchdown, helping him become the 23rd player since 1970 to have more than 300 combined net yards in a non-overtime game. He finished with 317 yards.

    With Tomlinson nursing a sore right big toe, he was San Diego's leading rusher with 53 yards on seven carries. He also caught two passes for 72 yards, including the 66-yarder for a TD when he made defenders miss badly.

    "I told him he played his butt off," Tomlinson said. "That was the perfect example of needing somebody. He stepped up for us. And that's the way it is through a season, because it's so long. Guys get banged up and can't play the full game, can play sparingly or may not be able to play a game here and there. You need guys to really be able to step up and give you that, and Darren gave us every opportunity to win that game."

    With Tomlinson's toe injury lingering, Sproles might see more time at running back Monday night, although he was added to the injury report on Saturday with a hamstring problem.

    After missing all of 2006 with a broken leg, Sproles bounced back last season. In a home game against the Colts in November, he returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown, then later in the first quarter returned a punt 45 yards for another score.

    Two months later, Sproles helped the Bolts upset the Colts in the playoffs when he turned a screen pass into a 56-yard touchdown.

    After Michael Turner's big debut with Atlanta on opening day, Tomlinson referred to his former backup as being "like a little brother to me."

    Asked how he views Sproles, Tomlinson said with a chuckle: "Nephew."

    Washington had some huge plays last year, too, enough for him to be voted the team's MVP. He returned three kickoffs for touchdowns, had a career-long 49-yard zigzagging run and threw a 36-yard pass that set up a TD. He also rushed for three TDs.

    Washington, a third-year pro out of Florida State, made the highlight shows last week for another reason.

    He was the Jets player caught in the middle as New England's Adalius Thomas grabbed Brett Favre, spun the elusive quarterback around by his jersey and threw him down for a 20-yard sack in the Patriots' 19-10 victory.

    AP Sports Writer Dennis Waszak in New York contributed to this report.

Share This Page