RB LaDainian Tomlinson only played two series in the AFC Championship game against New England last season after re-aggravating a knee injury causing him to opt out of the Pro Bowl. But if this is reason enough to spark concern that L.T. will not be in full force at the beginning of the season, then L.T. has been sorely underestimated.
Named the Chargers MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, L.T. also led the NFL in rushing for two consecutive seasons. If there is a player capable of returning to the field after an injury only to be a better player than before, then L.T. is that player.
With Lorenzo Neal's release from the team earlier in the year, FB Andrew Pinnock is expected to step up and bring full reckless energy to the field. The starting role is a new task that Pinnock is amped to embrace.
Landing three starts at the end of the Bolts regular season and two starts out of the Bolts three playoff contests, Pinnock exceedingly awed the coaching staff. In turn, the Bolts released Neal and moved Pinnock name to the starting role on the depth chart.
FB Jacob Hester
Furnished with stellar quickness, the natural competitor is a fearless tackler. Hester's glittering body control and impressive field instincts are displayed in his crisp, precise routes and his stellar, sharp angles. He has tremendous upper body strength that could discourage any opponent from trying to dislodge the ball from his grasp.
As Hester anticipates being groomed to fill-in behind Pinnock, it would not be shocking if he surpassed Pinnock to grab the starting role. A newbie at the starting role, Pinnock rarely holds claims and Hester has the enthusiasm and momentum that will push him to be a top performer.
Marcus Thomas, coming from the UTEP, is a budding star to be watched as well. Thomas marks the Bolts third pick and with his fierce, physical force and an aggressive nature on the field, he shows potential to plug the gap left by "The Burner."
Thomas has ideal gusto and zest that make him the perfect developmental player. Expect him to do more than just be a force to stir competition and bolster the depth.
Thomas is equipped to give Darren Sproles a stern race for the primary back-up position behind L.T. While Sproles has unmatched speed, he lacks the size and the ferocious element Hester ignites on the field. At 6'2" and 215 pounds, Thomas has great size that allows him to display clever poise to read the action and attack gaps hard with perfect timing.
Pinning Down Free Agents
The Bolts have also taken advantage of the undrafted free agency market. FB Mike Tolbert of Coastal Carolina was picked up by the Bolts. His 5'9" and 237-pound bulk provides the Bolts with a solid frame and build itching to be trained. Coach Phil Williams, Tolbert's former coach with the Chanticleers, speaks highly of the athlete's potential and knows Tolbert is equipped for the challenges ahead of him.
"Tolbert is very physical with excellent vision," Williams said. "He is a true leader both on and off the field."
Undrafted free agent Roy Betschart of Wyoming was also grabbed by the Bolts. While he has played full back and tight end, Betschart has the athleticism to create competition and help assemble solid depth.
The two athletes feel the pressure to display their talents in an effort to gain a secure spot on the roster. At the moment, however, it appears their main contribution to the Bolts will merely be on the practice field.