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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
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Fri., Jul. 31, 2015 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM PDT
Whittaker Making a Name for Himself
Among other Chargers, one name has been on the tip of many fans’ tongues after the first two preseason games of the year.
That name is Fozzy.
Sure, Fozzy Whittaker has the type of name that is hard to forget. But as he's shown over the past couple weeks, his game is capable of doing the talking. The 5-foot-10, 202-pounder leads the team with 71 yards on the ground and has the Chargers lone rushing touchdown in the preseason. He’s also chipped in with two catches for 15 yards and returned two kickoffs for 33 yards.
This week’s third preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals will have special meaning for Whittaker as he ended the 2012 season as a member of their practice squad. The Chargers claimed him on March 12, one day after he was released by Arizona. Fast forward five months and Whittaker is aiming to show the Cardinals just what they’re missing.
“The next day after I was released when San Diego called me, I said ‘Hey, that’s God working right there,’” said Whittaker. “It’s another opportunity for me to better myself, and that’s what I plan on continuing to do. But always when you play against your old team, you want to show up and make sure you perform like you can. But there’s no personal vendetta for me. To me it’s all about performing in a way to get our first win.”
Whittaker had a solid career at Texas, recording 263 rushes for 1,233 yards and 12 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he suffered a serious knee injury that ended his collegiate season, and is largely responsible for causing him to go undrafted.
“I had an ACL, MCL, lateral meniscus and medial micro fracture,” he said. “So I really blew it out. It was in a game and I was making a cut, and it kind of gave out and buckled on me. But I feel great now. It hasn’t even been bothering me lately. I make sure I continue to be strong and healthy, and still do my rehab to make sure it doesn’t get reinjured. But as far as performance on the field, it doesn’t bother me at all. ”
Nearly two years later, however, he appears fully healthy and is making the most of each time he’s on the field.
“This is the opportunity God has given me and I want to take advantage of that,” he said. “Just having this moment, to play again on a football field and have the chance to help the team win, it’s truly a blessing. So I thank God for this opportunity and I’m trying to make the most of it.”
Head coach Mike McCoy expressed those very sentiments.
“He’s done a nice job of making the most of his opportunity,” said McCoy. “He really has. He got a lot of playing time the last two weeks and that’s what you want to see. Coming from Arizona, the staff had known a little bit about him. He had the injury coming out of college and everything, so he’s getting back to full strength and doing a great job. He’s done a nice job in the backfield picking up protections around the football and in the kicking game.”
Ryan Mathews is someone else who has been impressed by what he’s seen from number 34.
“Fozzy is a great guy,” he said. “He’s going to do big things. He’s versatile. He can catch the ball and run between the tackles.”
Whittaker appreciates the kind words said by Mathews, who along with Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown have provided invaluable advice for the young runner.
“They have a lot of knowledge and hanging around those guys has helped me become a better, complete back,” he said. “Seeing the experience and the way they run the ball, pass block, recognize coverages and attack the defense has been a huge thing for me learning. They’ve really helped me transition from college, being a young player still trying to get a feel for the game.”