Branden Oliver will never forget Aug. 28, 2016.
Making a cut on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota, he felt a pop and fell to the turf. The slow-motion video of his Achilles snapping and recoiling into his calf went viral immediately. Oliver knew his season was over as he was carted into the locker room. A few days later his doctors told him how his Achilles injury was different from most, and that his path back was far from certain.
Yet here Oliver is a year later, turning heads at Chargers Camp with his patented jukes and hard-nosed running. After dealing with tough injuries two years in a row, the popular running back appreciates every moment he has on the field.
"It was a miracle recovery," he said following Friday's practice. "Every doctor that I came into contact with told me my injury was like nothing they'd seen before. The way it was with the calf; it could have been really detrimental. If you see the instant replay, you can see how mine was worse than most. So I feel like everything has happened on God's time. Miracles happen to people, and that's what this is. I should have been out much longer than I was. This is all just part of my journey, and I'm grateful."
By now most know BO's story.
An undrafted free agent out of Buffalo in 2014, he led the Bolts in rushing as a rookie with 582 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games with seven starts. He also caught 36 passes for 271 yards and another score.
Unfortunately, the fan favorite has been hobbled by injuries since his breakout year. Oliver suffered a toe injury midway through the 2016 campaign before missing all of last year as well.
"This adversity has reminded me that nothing is promised in life. I always stay grounded, humble and stay thankful to have another day just to breathe. I can only control so many things. My two injuries were freak accidents, but they were all part of my journey. I'm ready to get out there and show what I can do."
Confident in his abilities, he knows he has something to prove.
"No doubt I do, but at the same time, I know what I'm capable of," he said. "I feel great. I don't even feel my Achilles (bothering me). I'm very excited for the preseason game Sunday. It's something that's been in the back of my mind since the day I got hurt. I'm just hungry to get back out there and do what I do."