Merriweather ‘Privileged' to Join Chargers

San Diego can be an intimidating place to play for undrafted free agents. Take the case of Reggie Merriweather, an undrafted running back from Clemson who is now sharing a backfield with LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner.

Rather than being awestruck, Merriweather is seizing the opportunity to learn from the players in front of him and to prove he deserves a spot on the team.

Reggie Merriweather is a former starter at Clemson who was relegated to a reserve role as a senior, when he carried just 30 times for 171 yards and two touchdowns. As a junior, he ran for 715 yards.

Although those stats don't pop, he has the measurables to succeed as a pro. At a compact 5-foot-8 and 210 lbs., he has the low center of gravity needed to grind out tough yards. His impressive combination of toughness and vision was on display during the team's recent Mini Camp.

"Mini-camp went well. I felt like a freshman again," Merriweather said. "It was great working with LaDainian Tomlinson after watching him on TV over the years. Lorenzo Neal was great, too; he's the best fullback in the league. It was a privilege to see the habits and work ethics of those guys."

Although working with such successful veterans can be a blessing, it can also be a curse. The Chargers' depth chart is booming with running back talent, making it all the more challenging for Merriweather to earn a roster spot. However, he refuses to use his undrafted status as an excuse for failure.

"I think being undrafted will help me because it will keep me focused," he said. "If I was drafted, I might feel like I didn't have to work as hard. Now, I've put it in my mind that I have to get down to business."

In fact, Merriweather was almost drafted.

The New York Jets called him five times on draft day and implied they might select him with their seventh-round pick, No. 235 overall. Instead, the Jets selected Chansi Stuckey, Merriweather's roommate at Clemson.

Once the draft ended, San Diego outsold the Jets and the Chicago Bears, who were also interested in Merriweather. Now, Merriweather is working diligently to provide the Chargers with a maximum return on their investment.

"I'm trying to learn from everybody here," he said. "Lorenzo is a hit-you-in-the-mouth player; L.T. is a make-you-miss player. I'm trying to take something from everybody's game.

"Other than that, I'm just trying to learn the playbook and stay in the best shape possible."

If he can do that, he may have an outside shot at making the active roster. If not, a spot on the practice squad would be a nice consolation prize.

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