Andrew Pinnock, Chargers Draft Steal of 2003

Andrew Pinnock, selected in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL Draft, saw limited action in his rookie season for the San Diego Chargers. That does not make him any less hungry for the year ahead. While he looks back upon his year as a success, Pinnock looks forward to how much more he can accomplish now that a year is under his belt.

Minicamp for Andrew Pinnock started out with promise. He showed a knack for catching passes and looked the part of a bruiser. It conjured up images of third and short with the rock in his hands. Charger fans nationwide foamed at the mouth when considering how many more short yardage opportunities they could make with Pinnock running behind All-Pro Lorenzo Neal.

Training camp came and Pinnock faced a series of letdowns. He got steamed on gasers to start camp off and had to fight his way back into mix.

Instead of putting the rock in his hands, he was relegated to special team duties. Still he called his first season a success.

"It went pretty good," said Pinnock. "I came in – eyes wide open, not knowing what to expect and trying to do everything perfect. Oh my goodness, the NFL. When I finally relaxed and let nature take its course it went pretty well. I played mostly special teams and did pretty well on that."

His most prominent role of the season was not playing on special teams, but rather watching the talent in front of him, Lorenzo Neal and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Not only was what he watched on the field amazing, but off the field he got a true sense of what those two represent.

"Although I didn't play much last year – it was more of a learning year for me – I am in the best situation," Pinnock marveled. "I say that because I have a great veteran in front of me that I was learning from and he was teaching me the ropes – Lorenzo Neal. And standing back and watching a great tailback who I feel hands down is the best running back in the league right now. Best runner in the league. Just sitting back and watching those two guys work, play through injuries – it was motivational. Sit back learn and the reason why I say it was the best situation for is I am a fullback, but I am always going to consider myself a runner."

Learning the fullback position from one of the best was the biggest benefit Pinnock saw in year one. He came from South Carolina where he was used as a featured back and had to acclimate himself to his fullback role.

He admits he is raw when it comes to playing the position but when talk returns to how he can develop, Pinnock quickly points it all back to LT and how easy the star running back makes his job.

"Watching Lorenzo and his techniques and watching how he takes on blocks and things like that helped me. Just watching LT how he hits holes. A lot of people look at LT as some kind of scat back. LT is not a scat back. LT will run you over. Just seeing him hit the holes and seeing how he reads defenses."

The two that hold down the fort in front of him are the total package. Brawn and brains. Blocking and cutting.

His hope is to garner as much knowledge from those two as he can, that is until it is his turn to hit the holes with attitude to open the holes.

Pinnock does not stop with the men in the backfield. He also points to his coach, Clarence Shelmon, as an influential part of his progression.

"I have a great coach, Clarence Shelmon, a great position coach," Pinnock added. "He has been around the league for a long time and coached some of the great backs like Emmitt (Smith) for many years. I was just in a good situation. I had great coaching and great veteran leadership."

And now year two approaches. Pinnock is primed for a bigger role after learning so many lessons as a rookie. He is anxious to show his wares on the gridiron and the lessons from Neal, Tomlinson and Sherman, some of the best in the business, can only mean the future is bright for the youngster.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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