The last time Branden Oliver faced the Jets, the Chargers running back looked like a star. This Sunday at MetLife Stadium, he has a chance to prove he hasn’t burned out. Over three years ago, the undrafted rookie from the University of Buffalo broke out for two touchdowns and 182 yards from scrimmage — a performance that helped cap a 31-0 shutout by the Chargers. In just the third game of his career, Oliver looked like he belonged. When he wasn’t bouncing off tacklers, he shook them loose in space. When defenders closed in from the edges, he found holes up the middle. And he did it against what was the NFL’s top rushing defense. First-year Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, then an assistant on the Jets’ staff, was standing on the opposite sideline at Qualcomm Stadium that day. “I just remember he tore it up,” Lynn said. Shortly after that game, one writer described Oliver as a “new, improved Darren Sproles” — comparing him favorably to the former Chargers scatback who has more career all-purpose yards than all but seven players in NFL history. The following September, another suggested that Oliver could hold off No. 15 overall pick Melvin Gordon for the starting job. And as recently as August, yet another selected Oliver as his favorite breakout candidate on the Chargers’ roster. It wasn’t an outlandish suggestion. The 5-foot-7, 208-pound back had missed all of last season with ruptured Achilles tendon, but this summer, he looked healthy enough to reclaim his 2014 form.
Branden Oliver eager for larger role after injuries to Chargers running backs
L.A. Daily News | Dec 23