2:59pm: The Chargers announced that running back Branden Oliver left today’s preseason game with an Achilles injury, and following initial tests, it appears that Oliver did indeed tear his Achilles, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). While Rapoport cautions that Oliver will undergo more tests, Oliver would clearly miss the 2016 season if the Achilles is torn.
Oliver, who also ended the 2015 campaign on injured reserve, was set to return as San Diego’s third running back behind Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead. Serving in that role last season, Oliver rushed 31 times for 108 yards, and added 112 yards via 13 receptions. Additionally, Oliver was once again scheduled to act as the Chargers’ primary kick returner — he averaged 24.6 yards per return last year.
Oliver’s injury would seem to solidify a roster spot for 2015 undrafted free agent Dreamius Smith, who spent most of last season on the Chargers’ practice squad but did see one game of regular season action. Kenneth Farrow, the only other running back on San Diego’s squad, could now see an opening to make the club, while the Chargers also boast two fullbacks — Derek Watt and Chris Swain.
San Diego could look to claim a back off waivers in the coming days as other clubs trim their rosters, or it could venture into the free agent market. Joique Bell, Ahmad Bradshaw, Zac Stacy, Pierre Thomas, and former Charger Donald Brown are all available, as is Karlos Williams, whom I recently listed as a fit for the Chargers.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.