Branden Oliver broke onto the scene with an unforgettable performance against the New York Jets in 2014. "BO" earned Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week honors after rushing for 114 yards and scoring two touchdowns against the NFL's top ranked rushing defense. In the process, he became the first Charger with a 50-yard catch and a 50-yard run in the same game since Lionel "Little Train" James in 1985. Oliver was also the first NFL rookie to accomplish that feat since 2002 (Clinton Portis).
On the visitors sideline that day was Anthony Lynn, who served as the Jets' running backs coach.
"I don't remember that game," Lynn joked. "Amnesia."
Oliver laughs when told Lynn pretended not to remember his coming out party, noting how the two briefly discussed it over the past few months. But instead of focusing on the past, Oliver is looking toward his future with Lynn at the helm.
"I don't really talk about it either because my mentality is that even when this day is over and tomorrow comes, I forget about what happened. I'm focused on what's next. That game against the Jets was the blueprint for me, but it was so long ago in the past."
Ironically enough, Lynn tried to sign the running back to the Jets after he went undrafted in 2014. Oliver's position coach at the University of Buffalo was Matt Simon, who coached Lynn in 1998 with the Denver Broncos.
"The Jets were hard on me when I came out, and my coach kept telling me he'd be perfect for me. Now I see why. Coach Lynn put his stamp on this organization from the first meeting on how we are going to do things and our mentality. For me, his running back mentality is great. Just his focus on footwork and what he believes in. He's into changing things each and every week so things don't just stay the same."
As he enters his fourth year in the league, the 5-8, 208-pound rusher believes he has even more to prove than his rookie year. After a toe injury cost him the final eight games of the 2015 season, Oliver missed all of 2016 after tearing his Achilles in the third preseason game.
"I feel great right now, but I keep reminding myself nothing is promised. My faith in God and family supported me. I found out who really supported me. I'm taking nothing for granted. I'm coming out and taking it one day at a time. All I've got is today; tomorrow's not promised. So I give all I have every day."
According to Philip Rivers, you'd never know BO hasn't suited up in a game since Nov. 1, 2015.
"It's been great (having him back)," number 17 said. "Gosh, we had really such high expectations for him going into last year off the year(s) he had prior. Having him go into another full season already knowing this guy can be a heck of a player for us. (He's) a changeup back. He catches it well. He does all those things.
"He looks good. He looks explosive. I know it's early, but I think he really is a great complement to Melvin (Gordon). Their styles are different, but similar. (We) have two backs who can run all the same plays, but it's a little different. You see them. Their movements are different. I think BO can be a heck of a changeup for us."