Branden Oliver broke onto the scene with an unforgettable performance against the New York Jets in 2014, rushing for 114 yards and scoring 2 touchdowns against the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense. As he enters his fourth year in the league, the 5-foot-8, 208-pound rusher believes he has even more to prove than his rookie year. After a toe injury cost him the final eight games of the 2015 season, Oliver missed all of 2016 after tearing his Achilles in the third preseason game. Still, after OTAs, Philip Rivers told reporters you'd never know Oliver hasn't suited up in a game since Nov. 1, 2015. "He looks good," Rivers said. "He looks explosive. I know it's early, but I think he really is a great complement to Melvin (Gordon). Their styles are different, but similar. (We) have two backs who can run all the same plays, but it's a little different."
Barring injury, expecting Gordon to come off the field for more than brief blows is a bit of a reach.
2017 Bottom Line
While Kenneth Farrow, Kenjon Barner and Andre Williams are also in the mix, Oliver's work when healthy stands out. It doesn't necessarily make him a true handcuff, but it makes him a player to watch this summer.