Running back Jordan Todman attends the NFL PLAYERS Premiere League Flag Football Game at UCLA on May 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. He will wear No. 40 for the San Diego Chargers.
Chargers running back coach Ollie Wilson was asked this week if any runner has left an especially strong impression on him during training camp.
He didn’t scratch his chin.
He didn’t bat an eye.
“I think Todman’s doing a good job,” Wilson said.
Jordan Todman, a sixth-round rookie whom the organization had much higher on its April draft board, will be among the Chargers to watch Thursday when the team opens its preseason at 5 p.m. against the Seattle Seahawks in Qualcomm Stadium.
Over the past two weeks, Todman has been the primary receiver of Wilson’s hollering during training camp, as the coach stresses the position’s technical details with the 21-year-old, who is only 5-foot-9 and 193 pounds.
When told of the quick praise, Todman gave a suspicious smile.
“You sure Coach Ollie said that?” Todman said. “Coach Ollie is a great coach. He’s always on me and pushing me to become a better player."
Todman then gave a short pause.
"Yeah, he’s always on me," he added with a laugh."Whenever you have a coach who is pushing you, it's all for a good reason. You have to be able to accept criticism, and when he does tell you something, don't make that same mistake."
Much of the instruction has centered on pass protection.
The Chargers lost their best pass-protecting running back this offseason when unrestricted free agent Darren Sproles signed with the New Orleans Saints.
Starter Ryan Mathews is being asked to make strides to fill the void, but protecting quarterback Philip Rivers will be a team effort, Wilson said.
Todman could join that team.
“He reminds of the Warrick Dunn-type of guys who are smaller but need to learn how to play the game in pass pro,” Wilson said. “The thing that’s really amazed me is he’s become a really good pass protector, so he’s not afraid of those big guys. He’s blocking those big outside linebackers. When you’re as big as he is, you better be technique-sound."
Todman has also shown flashes of strong, downhill running, a skill honed at UConn, which runs a power-oriented offense.
But impressing in training camp and repeating it during a game are two separate matters, Wilson said.
Todman, whose mother, sister and younger brother will be in attendance, wants to showcase himself in the team's preseason opener, which will be nationally broadcast on ESPN.
“I feel I have playmaking ability,” Todman said. “I’m a hustler. I’m a guy who’s a competitor and just loves to play the game of football and loves to win and do whatever it takes.
“On Thursday, it’s a lot easier said than done to prove, but on Thursday I’ll be able to show the coaches, the organization, and my teammates what I can do and what I bring to the team.”