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Branden Oliver gunning for Chargers' starting RB gig

Coming off a promising season in San Diego, Chargers running back Branden Oliver is looking for more come September.

"I want to break more tackles. I would also like to be a little more explosive," Oliver said on the heels of a campaign that saw him finish sixth among all rookies with 582 yards on the ground.

Oliver told the team's official website that he's spent the offseason working on his "power, strength, speed and agility," adding that production "will come easier this year because I'm more comfortable and know the offense."

With Ryan Mathews out the door, the undrafted Oliver has an opportunity to walk into Week 1 as San Diego's top back ahead of Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown. He's diminutive at 5-foot-8 and 208 pounds, but Chargers general manager Tom Telesco went out his way last month to say that Oliver "can be a starter in this league."

He showed that with a pair of 100-plus yard outings on the ground and 36 catches out of the backfield in 2014. Oliver turned heads right away in the preseason and never looked back, but we worry about him as an every-down runner over 16 games.

The Chargers want to run the ball. We saw how dangerous they became as a ground-heavy force two seasons ago, rolling into the playoffs with an offense that ate up the clock and kept opposing passers off the field.

With an aging Philip Rivers at the helm -- for who knows how much longer -- look for San Diego to target a bona fide starter as early as No. 17 in next week's draft. Even if they do, though, Oliver remains entrenched as a factor for the Chargers.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast conducts a redraft of the 2014 NFL Draft before chatting about this year's event with Daniel Jeremiah. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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