Many would argue that the fourth preseason game is unnecessary and usually only features those players who won’t make the cut. Sometimes, though, a player makes a name for himself in that “meaningless” game. For the Chargers, that player is running back Kenneth Farrow.
The Chargers struggled last year in the running game. Rookie running back Melvin Gordon had a disappointing year. Danny Woodhead did very well as a receiving option out of the backfield, but is not an every-down back. Last week against the Minnesota Vikings, the fans watched in disbelief as Branden Oliver suffered a terrible Achilles injury. He is now out for the season after he was placed on season-ending injured reserve.
In an attempt to fill Oliver’s position, the Chargers claimed Gus Johnson off of waivers from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. This move was made before Farrow was able to continue to show what he could do after missing the second and third preseason games.
Farrow was an undrafted free agent from the University of Houston. At 5-foot-9 and 219 pounds, the 23-year-old had a good college career, churning out 2,975 yards and 34 rushing touchdowns. He was also the captain of the Cougars for his last three years of college.
In the first exhibition game, Farrow had a decent game. He rushed for 60 yards on 16 attempts, adding two receptions for 25 yards, including a 17-yard catch. This was a positive as the Chargers tend to us their running backs in passing situations.
Farrow surprised Bolt fans after a less-than-stellar performance by the ground game in the first half of the last preseason game. In seven attempts, he had 63 yards and one touchdown. The play which had the most excitement was his 44-yard run in the third quarter. He was tackled within the five-yard line. Then, on first-and-goal, he ran it in for a touchdown.
Farrow was playing against the third-string Niners’ defense, but he made some great moves en route to a solid performance. He showed confidence and made good decisions for a rookie. Farrow was able to beat out the aforementioned Gus Johnson to make the roster as the third running back.
As much as I will miss seeing Oliver in action, I am excited to see what the rookie has to offer. He is a little bigger than Oliver, so hopefully he can bulldoze through defenses and get those much-needed yards in the rushing attack.
With the addition of former Giant back Andre Williams, the Chargers should have a formidable running game as long as the offensive line can stay healthy and do its job.
It is difficult to know what Farrow’s role will be in 2016, but he will be called upon to contribute until Williams gets up to speed.
It would be great to look back on this article and realize that the Bolts indeed did find their next undrafted free-agent gem; this time at the running back position.
Thanks for reading!
Danny Woodhead is ready for the 2015 season. The running back suffered a high-ankle sprain with a fractured fibula last year. The injury occurred on the 1st possession of week 3 against the Buffalo Bills. The injury required surgery and he was put on injured reserve. He is healthy and it showed on the field in the team’s week 1 win over the Lions.
A decade ago, it was rarity to see running backs under 5-foot-10. At 5-foot-8, 200 pounds, Woodhead isn’t even the shortest running back on the team. Branden Oliver, entering his second year, is 5-foot-7 and 208 pounds. Rookie Melvin Gordon is 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds. This trio of running backs is a three-headed monster, giving the Chargers many options in the running game.
Woodhead went to Chadron State College, a NCAA Division II team, in his home State of Nebraska. He was the first person to receive a full-ride athletic scholarship from Chadron State College. He broke the all-division single rushing record with 2,740 yards in 2006. He also had 3,159 all-purpose yards that year, which is the second most by a college running back behind the great Barry Sanders. After four years, he had racked up 7,962 rushing yards and 109 touchdowns. He is also the second athlete to have over 100 touchdowns in collegiate history.
Despite Woodhead’s success in college, he was not asked to join the NFL Scouting Combine. The New York Jets signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He spent his first two years with the Jets but had to sit out his rookie year on injured reserve. He was released by the Jets in 2010, and the New England Patriots picked him up. Woody had three successful years with the Patriots, rushing for 1,099 yards with ten rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns.
The Chargers signed Woodhead in 2013. He had 429 rushing yards, 605 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns. He quickly became a fan favorite. Many fans felt that he had brought back that missing piece of the offense that Darren Sproles had filled during his tenure with the Chargers. He was a smaller, fast running back, like Sproles, that could also be used in both running and receiving duties.
Woodhead spent the offseason recovering from his injury and updating his look. He ditched his surfer-boy look with a short haircut and a beard. His fun-filled spirit and enthusiasm are still there, especially with his new best friend, Branden Oliver. Entering his 8th season, he will not disappoint as he takes on the roll of mentor to both Oliver and Gordon.
After week 1, it looks like the Chargers’ running game will excel with it’s three-headed monster. The taller Gordon will be the first running back. The team seems to be using him to gain first downs within the first 60 yards. The Bolts will utilize Woodhead within the red zone and on third downs. Oliver will also take on some of same duties as Woodhead. Against the Lions, Woodhead had 62 total yards and two rushing touchdowns. These three running backs will force defenses to have a hard time coming up with a plan of attack.
If Woodhead can stay healthy this year, Phillip Rivers will again have a go-to safety valve in the passing game. He will be able to rely on Woodhead and the running game to take pressure off of him to get the job done in the air. Woodhead’s work on the field was a big reason why the Chargers were able to rally back against the Lions.
We sure missed you, No. 39!
Exit, Reggie Walker…enter Shaq Thompson?
Walker was a versatile linebacker for the San Diego Chargers who lined up inside, outside and on special teams. He
signed with the Denver Broncos in the offseason. There’s always a need for another defender. Could Thompson fit the bill?
Weight: 228 pounds
40 yard Dash: 4.64 seconds
Thompson was a triple threat player at the University of Washington. As a defender, the former Huskie compiled 81 tackles and four takeaways (all returned for scores). He is aggressive, agile and instinctive. His vision and ability to read action quickly make him effective as a blitzer, even though he is not an explosive hitter. Offensively, Thompson toted the ball 61 times for 456 yards and two touchdowns.
Shaq Thompson received the Paul Hornung Trophy for being the most versatile player in the nation in 2014. Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, who likes to mix up his schemes, could use Thompson in a hybrid linebacker-safety role. No matter where he lines up, he will be fun to watch.
What are your thoughts on Thompson trotting out onto the field in lightning bolts? Share your comments, please, and thanks for reading!
What do you mean, Keenan Allen playing slot receiver? Just bear with me while I attempt to persuade you.
A slot receiver, by definition, is a player in the offensive formation between the offensive line and the player closest to the sideline and at least a yard off of the line of scrimmage. That space can be occupied by a wide receiver, tight end or running back. It is often used when the offense wants to confuse the defense by having more than one receiver on the same side of the field. Utilizing this tactic generally forces the opposing team to adjust their coverage scheme by making alignment changes or adding extra defensive backs to ensure that the player in that “slot” has someone on him.
While at University of California – Berkeley (UCB), Allen was used in several different formations: split wide at receiver, in the slot and in the backfield. He primarily played the slot position while at UCB, so the role would be nothing new to him. Being quick off the line of scrimmage whether the ball is coming his way or if he is being a decoy can only help Philip Rivers in the long run. Although Allen may not have top speed, he does have the ability to change speed quickly. Prior to the draft, NFL analyst Charles Davis stated “…he didn’t run very fast at his pro day, but the comparisons for him: he plays the game a lot like Anquan Boldin and has hands like Larry Fitzgerald”. Current players also known as slot receivers are: Jeremy Maclin (Kansas City Chiefs), Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos), Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys), Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers) and free agent Wes Welker.
Allen has played 29 games in his two years with the Bolts and has 148 receptions of which 95 went for first down. Other than his receiving yardage, there are only punt return statistics for him: 26 attempts for 224 yards with 24 fair catch calls and zero touchdowns. In comparison, here is what newly-signed Jacoby Jones amassed during his first two years (2007-2008 and 30 games) in the league. As a receiver, Jones recorded 18 receptions and 11 of those were for first down. His punt return numbers: 672 yards on 62 attempts, 24 fair catches made, two TDs. On kick offs, 17 attempts for 358 yards (zero touchdowns, zero fair catches made).
Perhaps the argument can be made to move Keenan Allen to the slot since he is considerably younger than Jacoby Jones and Jones has more NFL experience overall in that position. So you are aware, though he is also on the team now, Stevie Johnson was not included in this comparison because he was only used in the return game his initial season (2008).
I know what I would do if the decision was left up to me…however, where do you think Allen lines up this season?
Thanks and Bolt Up!
It is common knowledge that the Chargers have many positions that need upgrading in the 2013 offseason. The most obvious positions of need happen to be on the offensive line.
But let’s get one thing straight. The Chargers have many holes in their roster in addition to the offensive line.
Ryan Mathews has shown that he is incapable of being a workhorse running back due to repeated injuries and an inability to stay on the field on third down. Although Mathews is a decent receiver out of the backfield, he is a poor blocker, at best, in passing situations. There is no need to get started on his fumbling issues. The aforementioned facts show that there is a need at running back in the Charger offense as either a replacement for Ryan or as a complimentary piece to him.
Despite Donald Butler getting better in each and every game, it is hard to imagine how he would perform with a solid inside linebacker playing next to him in our 3-4 defense. I know that Takeo Spikes has become a fan favorite, but his best years have long passed him by. If the Chargers were to find another solid player to play next to Butler, our youthful, improving defense would only get that much better.
I have had a good time making up nicknames for Atari Bigby. He set himself up pretty good with his name announcement during the Monday night contest versus Denver. All joking aside, Bigby’s inability to wrap up, coupled with his penchant to bite on play action, made him a serious detriment to the success of the Bolt defense. The Chargers haven’t had a quality strong safety since the days of Rodney Harrison. Yes, it has been that long.
Now that Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer have completed the final year of their contracts, the Chargers are now left searching for two starting cornerbacks. Despite Jammer being one of my favorite Chargers, it is nearly impossible to think that he will be back as a cornerback with the team. The door might be open for him to sign a hometown discount to return as astrong safety as we talked about last night on “All Out Blitz.” Cason is a player that could price himself out of our range while being allowed t shop free agency. My hope is that we bring him back but only at the right price. Cornerback will need to be addressed with multiple players in any case.
Those are the obvious holes, in my mind, that need addressing on the 2013 San Diego Chargers. You could easily add in defensive tackle and defnsive line depth as well. Also, you can never have enough quality depth on the offensive line either.
Below you will notice a poll asking the very same question in the title. Excluding offensive line, which position is in need of upgrading the most in San Diego?
Please vote and leave a comment below stating why you voted for the position that you did.
Thanks a lot for reading and voting.