Korey Toomer has only been wearing lightning bolts since September, but it surely seems longer.
The former Oakland Raider is as happy to be with the Chargers as they are to have him. He is finally getting an opportunity to put his talents on display, especially that 4.53-second 40-yard dash.
After being drafted by Seattle in 2012 (round 5, selection No. 154). He was on the roster for 20 (including preseason) games during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory in 2013. Between being on injured-reserve for two straight years and having guys like Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner ahead of him, it was difficult for Toomer to get on the field in Seattle. He was released from the Seahawks in 2014. Subsequent stops in Dallas and St. Louis with minimal playing time (special teams only) garnered three tackles in seven games. More of the same followed in Oakland, so much so that he terminated his contract with the Raiders to sign in San Diego.
The signing of the ultra athletic Toomer has gone a long way towards solidifying the linebacking corps. Season-ending injuries to Manti Te’o and Nick Dzubnar left a void that demanded filling. Recent injuries to both Jatavis Brown (knee) and Denzel Perryman (hamstring) only increased the necessity of his presence.
Ahead of the match-up against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Toomer had started in four out of seven games. One of his best plays to date came in the Thursday Night Football game when he tackled Broncos wide receiver Jordan Taylor and the Broncos’ player coughed up the ball. The fumble recovery led to a San Diego field goal and put the Chargers up 13 points on their division foes. San Diego went on to win that game, their first victory in the AFC West since 2014.
Since mid-October, Toomer has amassed 51 tackles, the majority of which are solo (37), defended against two passes, forced three fumbles and notched one fumble recovery. There were impressive stats against both the Tennessee Titans (nine tackles/eight solo) and the Miami Dolphins (11/10), including three-and-a-half tackles for lost yardage. In the Houston game, the veteran linebacker recorded 13 more tackles (four solo) and a quarterback hit.
Having Toomer back there to get receivers off routes has been fun to watch, as well. His ability to reroute crossers and drags which run through the linebacking corps’ area can significantly alter the short passing games of opposing offenses. He has helped solidify that inside linebacking group.
Speaking to Ricky Henne of chargers.com in October, Toomer stated:
“Pags’ system is benefitting me because he is letting me play fast. He is putting me in positions not to fail. That is why it is working for the both of us. I feel like these coaches are giving me a chance. Granted, I made good on the situation. These coaches have put me in position to make plays and are not putting too much on my plate. They are letting me fly around. I am grateful for these coaches giving me a call and giving me a chance to play this game. I want to show people I can bring more to the table than just special teams. I love special teams, that’s where I want to play for the rest of my career as well, but I want to play defense, too.”
Whether he plays defense or special teams, the fact that Toomer left a division rival in order to grasp an opportunity with both hands shows he has gained confidence in himself and his ability.
Bring on the Bucs and Mike Evans!
*Featured image credit: AP – Denis Poroy
In front of a white-hot sellout crowd at Qualcomm Stadium, the San Diego Chargers defeated the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, 30-21.
However, that wasn’t the entire story of the game.
Questionable calls by the officiating crew along with the return to All-Pro form by Tight End Antonio Gates seemed to be the highlights in this man’s opinion. After the Chargers took an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter, Perch Harvin received a pitch from Russell Wilson and ran along the sidelines for a 51 yard touchdown. Replays showed that Harvin clearly stepped out-of-bounds. The side judge on the play also pointed to where he stepped out-of-bounds. The Fox television broadcasters even brought in Mike Pereira, referee turned analyst, to explain how the review process works. Yet, the play was confirmed.
Since the play was allowed to stand as called, the Seahawks gained the lead, 7-3.
In a future possession, Rivers, who isn’t known for his mobility, ran out-of-bounds and was pushed by Seahawk Linebacker Bobby Wagner. Rivers, livid at the late, unnecessary contact by Wagner, confronted the defender. No penalty was called.
On a later drive, as the Chargers had the ball in the red zone, a questionable holding call was given to tight end John Phillips that took away a touchdown run by Ryan Mathews. Gates eventually scored a touchdown to put the Chargers ahead, 10-7.
Officials tried to make amends by calling a personal foul late hit penalty on Seahawk linebacker Bruce Irvin which lead to Antonio Gates’ second touchdown and a lead for the Chargers 20-7.
As I sat and watched the game from the comfort of my home, I couldn’t help but feel that the officials didn’t seem to want the Bolts to win. The blown call on Harvin’s run was merely the beginning. Non-calls on obvious penalties and flags on questionable calls (that went against the Chargers) and it felt as if the San Diego was battling two opponents: the Seahawks and the officials.
Seriously, how can officials who monitor the games in New York miss such an easy call? The National Football League is in full crisis mode with off the field incidents involving Ray Rice and Adrian Petersen. The Chargers-Seahawks game was also a nationally televised game. The game showed a sizable audience that the league is constantly making mistakes. Granted, mistakes happen. I get that. Yet considering the pains the league has made to get calls right, the NFL can’t afford any more blows to its reputation.
At end of the day, the Chargers overcame a lot this Sunday. The infamous “12th Man” of Seattle were mostly held in check. Although I was appalled at a brief “Seahawks” chant I heard in the third quarter. Gametime temperatures on the field reached 120 degrees and the team overcame that. Richard Sherman, famed Seahawk cornerback, claimed he was the best in the league. Philip Rivers threw the ball in Sherman’s direction on multiple occasions and Sherman wasn’t a factor.
Yes, that was one tall mountain that San Diego climbed on Sunday. Not many experts gave the team a chance (the preseason game earlier didn’t help), but the Chargers controlled the ball, pressured Russell Wilson, and looked good against a team that was perceived to be unbeatable.
I, for one, hope there’s still more of what Gates showed fans on Sunday. I hope the Mathews injury isn’t serious. Additionally, I hope Qualcomm Stadium will continue to host sellout games and host loud, loyal Chargers fans.
I’m wondering now if the organization would consider “persevere” as a team motto.
Photo Credit: James Ebo and Raymond Broome