Backfield Bounty: Bolts Add RB Marcus Thomas

The Chargers continue to plug holes created during the offseason. After replacing Drayton Florence (Antoine Cason) and Lorenzo Neal (Jacob Hester), the Chargers grabbed a power back to replace Michael Turner in UTEP's Marcus Thomas. The Chargers brought Thomas in for a private visit earlier this offseason and liked what they heard.

The fact that the Chargers were hot for UTEP running back Marcus Thomas (6'0", 213 pounds) was no secret. San Diego brought him in for a private visit prior to the draft, as was reported earlier this month on However, that the Bolts used two of their first three picks on runners is certainly a surprise.

Thomas is a powerful runner with the ability to bounce of tacklers and fight for tough yards. Unfortunately, his upright running style leaves him exposed to lots of big hits, so longevity could be an issue.

That shouldn't be a problem in San Diego, where Thomas will have to fight for carries with LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles and a pair of hybrid fullbacks: Andrew Pinnock and Jacob Hester. In that limited capacity, Thomas will be free to run with reckless abandon.

Thomas is coming off a stellar senior season in which he carried 227 times for 1,116 yards (5.1 avg) and 16 TDs. He also chipped in 20 receptions for 268 yards and two scores. That performance went a long way towards answering the litany of questions raised after Thomas' mediocre junior season, in which he posted a career-low 3.3 yards per carry.

Those numbers come with a caveat, however, as he did the bulk of his damage against schools like Texas Southern and Southern Methodist.

Other questions remain about Thomas' game. He posted a pedestrian 4.59 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. That led some scouts to question whether he has the explosiveness to get around the corner and make defenders miss.

The Chargers were focused on Thomas' power more than his speed. Norv Turner envisions him as the type of north-and-south runner who can serve as a change of pace to the shifty Tomlinson and the speedy Sproles.

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