Oliver puts LT's pointers to use

SAN DIEGO -- Looking a little sheepish, running back Branden Oliver walked up to legendary San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson after practice on Monday.

With Tomlinson at practice working for the NFL Network, Oliver made sure to take advantage of the opportunity to pick the brain of one of the greatest running backs to ever play in the league.

“We just really talked about defenses,” Oliver said. “I wanted to know more about how he analyzed defenses. He told me he just watched a lot of film to see how those guys moved around, so he can know what’s about to happen before the play even begins.

“That meant a whole lot. He’s a Hall of Famer. Just to stoop down and give me some knowledge and wisdom, I thank God for that.”

Oliver put Tomlinson’s pointers to good use against the Cowboys, finishing with a game-high 64 yards on seven carries, including a 16-yard touchdown.

“I have to give all the glory to the guys that were blocking for me, honestly,” said Oliver of his touchdown run. “I didn’t have to do much, except stay vertical. The cornerback came at the last second, so it was like 2 yards before I hit the end zone, and I kept running my feet and I got in the end zone.”

Oliver had been one of the more impressive players for the Chargers during the first two weeks of training camp. And Oliver showed that he should be in the conversation for a spot on the final 53-man roster by the way he played on Thursday against the Cowboys.

“He’s a good running back,” Chargers tight end David Johnson said. “Everybody knows, the whole O-line knows that he’ll get loose when we’re out there. We just had everyone working together, and we were sewing everybody up. As a team, we blocked good on a lot of those runs, and all he had to do was run.”

An undrafted rookie free agent out of University at Buffalo, Oliver turned down a chance to sign with Indianapolis in order to join the Chargers soon after the draft. Oliver has been impressive in practice, showing elusiveness, power and the ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

But after Thursday’s performance, Oliver understands he still has a lot more work to do.

“I just have to keep taking it one day at a time and just keep God first,” Oliver said. “I know I am in the right place. I have to keep getting better each and every day. This is just only one game, and you can’t get complacent.

“So it’s more to come, and I’ve got a group of great veterans in the running back room that I’m going to keep learning from, and (running backs) coach Ollie Wilson. So it’s not the end of it.”