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STORM Brewing in Chargers' Backfield

Sproles, Tolbert and Mathews carry a draft



    STORM Brewing in Chargers' Backfield
    Short, stuttering, sensational.

    Weeks ago, Chargers running back Mike Tolbert sat in the locker room, forecasting.

    He called the team's backfield “one of the best in the league simply because it's so versatile.” He characterized the unit by using the acronym STORM: "S" for Darren Sproles, "TO" for Tolbert and "RM" for Ryan Mathews.

    On Sunday, it hit.

    Sproles, Tolbert and Mathews all found the end zone in the Chargers' 33-25 win over the Titans. They had at least four carries and three catches each, combining for 221 yards on 41 touches from scrimmage.

    “You never know with any of our backs in the game what you're going to get: run, screen, pass protection,” Tolbert said. “I definitely think the name STORM they gave us fits us pretty well as a running style.”

    The nickname was discovered when Tolbert's fiancee was browsing the Internet. On the official Chargers message board, the topic “Help find a nickname for Mike Tolbert” was being discussed.

    She showed Tolbert the fans' list. One caught his eye.

    “I thought, 'Wow. That might really could fit us,'” Tolbert said.

    Each of the three running backs brings his own dynamic dimension.

    Sproles, considered the best pass protector of the group, is the team's top option on third down and other passing situations. Tolbert handles the grunt work, carrying the load on the goal line and as a physical change of pace. Rookie Mathews is the developing workhorse whose bright flashes shown while working back from an early season ankle injury suggest his best is still yet to come.

    There is a calm before every storm. Fullback Jacob Hester is the havoc.

    Chargers running back coach Ollie Wilson has coached in the NFL since 1991, and between his four options, he said he's never had such a flexible group.

    “They like the limelight, but they're not looking for the limelight,” Wilson said. "We've got all these different roles for all these different guys. We don't have superstars. We have guys in there that play a role and go out and get the job done. It works like clockwork.”