Donald Brown the Answer?
Ryan Matthews was injured last Sunday versus the Seattle Seahawks with a sprained MCL and is expected to miss about 4 more weeks.
Danny Woodhead was injured this Sunday versus the Buffalo Bills with a severe high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula that will likely require season ending surgery.
San Diego Charger General Manager Tom Telesco signed Donald Brown this offseason to a 3 year $10.4 million deal as the team's top free agent acquisition. At the time many NFL observers questioned the signing of Donald Brown, but right now Telesco looks to have made a very smart deal if Donald Brown can carry the load for the Chargers.
Donald Brown is 27 years old, in his 6th season in the NFL, is listed at 5'10 207 pounds and runs a 4.51 40 yard dash. He has prototype speed and pretty good size, but he could stand to gain 10-13 pounds to make him a stronger runner and less likely to get hurt. Over his 6 year career he has only made a full season 2 years. This Sunday he carried the ball 31 times and there is no way he will be able to keep that pace the entire season.
Donald Brown only averaged 2.0 yards per carry this Sunday versus a very tough Buffalo Bill run defense, but he has averaged 4.3 yards per carry over his 6 year career. Averaging 4.3 yards per carry is pretty good, but not outstanding.
Over the next four weeks the Chargers face the Jacksonville Jaguars, the New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, and the Kansas City Chiefs. Brown should have a good game next week against the Jags 30th ranked run defense. The Jets will make for a much stiffer competition as they have the #1 ranked run defense in the NFL. The Raiders have the 29th ranked run defense and the Chiefs have the 22nd ranked run defense, so Donald Brown will have 3 games when he should be very successful.
Donald Brown is a pretty good receiver out of the backfield as he has averaged 17 catches per season in his career. He is not on the level of Ryan Matthews' 34 catches per season, but he can be a good fill in while Matthews is out.
Branden Oliver is an undrafted rookie free agent from the University of Buffalo. He is 5'8, 208 pounds and runs a 4.63 40 yard dash. At Oliver's size you would like to see him be faster, but he had a very good college career. On Sunday against the Bills he ran 3 times for 11 yards, a 3.7 yard average.
As a senior at Buffalo, Oliver carried the ball an outstanding 310 times with a 5.0 yard per carry average. He also caught 25 passes as a senior. Those stats show that Oliver is tough, but this is the NFL and he is way undersized, but he can definitely carry the ball a few times a game and be a good receiver out of the backfield.
Marion Grice was drafted in the 6th round by the Chargers out of Arizona State and is on the practice squad at this time. He is 6'0, 208 pounds and runs a 4.5 40 yard dash.
He has the prototype speed, but at 208 pounds he is underweight to take the beating a running back takes each and every week. In pass protection he will be facing 240 pound linebackers and he needs more size and strength.
I had him rated as the 20th best running back and I felt that the Chargers passed on 5 running backs that were rated higher than him.
In the final preseason game this season Grice rushed 19 times for 79 yards, a 4.2 yard per carry average.
As a senior at Arizona State Grice ran 191 times with a 5.2 yard per carry average. He also caught 50 passes and returned 21 kicks for a 24.1 yard average.