Darren Sproles: The Next Michael Turner?

Eddie RossellCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2009

Same team. Same position. Different player.

This season, LaDainian Tomlinson's long time backup, Michael Turner, led his new team, the Atlanta Falcons, to the playoffs with 1,699 yards on the ground and 17 TDs.

Well, Tomlinson and the Chargers have another excellent backup who could surprise people if he were a No. 1 back somewhere. Next year it could be San Diego's Darren Sproles in the same position Turner is in this season. He could be a serious every-down back in the NFL.

Despite his small size, 5'6" 181 lbs, his stats show that he could potentially be great.

In the 2008 regular season, Sproles had 61 carries for 330 yards and one TD. This gives him a 5.4 yard per carry average...all while backing up L.T.

Michael Turner ran it 376 times this season. If Sproles rushed that many times, with his yard per carry average, he would have around 2,030 yards!

And his performance in San Diego's AFC Wild Card game against the Colts only further improved his stock.

Sproles carried the ball 22 times for 105 yards and two TDs, one of which was the game winner in overtime.

He also caught six passes for 45 yards.

He returned four kickoffs for 106 yards and three punts for 72 yards.

All together, Darren Sproles had 328 total yards! Pretty nice stats to have against a good Colts defense that has superstar players like Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, and Bob Sanders.

There is no doubt in my mind that Darren Sproles could be an every-down back in the NFL. He has quickness, he has good vision, and he actually has a bit of a size advantage. His small size allows him to sneak by big defensive lineman and some linebackers. And as many coaches say "whoever gets the pads lower wins the battle." Sproles can do that easily.

His contract with the Chargers is up after this season, so there is no telling where Sproles could end up next season. That is, if the Chargers don't make the smart move and re-sign him first.