Can San Diego running back Branden Oliver follow up on last week's breakout performance?
On a team with Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and free agent addition Donald Brown in the backfield, you wouldn't expect the story of the San Diego Chargers' first preseason game to be an undrafted rookie running back. Yet Branden Oliver was exactly that. Diminutive, explosive and clad in a No. 43 jersey, the Buffalo product was downright Sproles-like last week against the Cowboys, surging for 64 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
He'll get another chance to impress Friday night when the Chargers take on the stifling defense of the Seattle Seahawks, but don't expect a repeat performance. The NFL is littered with preseason stars who never followed up, and with the above-mentioned logjam in San Diego's backfield, it's a long shot that Oliver can carve out a consistent role on this team. Then again, that's part of the allure of preseason football: unheralded names getting a chance to make an impact.
The Chargers offense as a whole, which dumped 395 yards on the Cowboys last week, should have a tougher day against the Seahawks' defense. That said, it's been the offensive side of the ball that's been making the headlines in Seattle recently. Marshawn Lynch is still working himself into football shape after his holdout and didn't play last week. The fact that he was named in an assault investigation on Monday won't help his concentration.
The position battle to watch when Seattle has the ball will be at right tackle, where veteran Eric Winston and second-round pick Justin Britt are duking it out for a starting job. That gig was expected to belong to Michael Bowie, but weight issues and injury led to his release last week.
Here are the details for tuning in Friday night:
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle
When: 10 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network; 506Sports.com for local coverage
Radio: 710 AM (Seattle), 105.3 FM (San Diego)
Online streaming: NFL Preseason Live (subscription required)