Grice adds versatility to Bolts' backfield

SAN DIEGO – Marion Grice said the San Diego Chargers showed heavy interest in him during the draft, attending his pro day at Arizona State and also explaining how they would use him in the team’s offense at the NFL scouting combine.

So it’s little shock that San Diego’s sixth-round pick in this year’s draft landed on the final 53-man roster. The surprise, of course, is general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy chose to keep five running backs on the roster, including undrafted rookie free agent Branden Oliver.

At 6-foot and 208 pounds, Grice is a back that can do everything. He’s a physical runner who can get it done between the tackles, but also has enough speed to get outside in the run game. He’s smooth catching the ball out of the backfield, but also smart and physical enough to pick up blitzes in pass protection.

Grice is familiar with the zone running scheme from his time at Arizona State, can line up as a slot receiver and returned kicks in college. But what’s sometimes goes unnoticed about Grice is his ability to move the pile in the run game.

“He’s a big guy,” Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich said about Grice. “He’s strong, runs hard. He’s tough to bring down and has great balance.”

With Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown, the Chargers are loaded in the backfield, so Grice said will have to figure out how to earn time on special teams.

Grice didn’t have much an opportunity to show what he could do during offseason work as he rehabilitated a leg injury. But his unique skill set began to emerge during training camp, blossoming in the final preseason game, when he finished with 79 yards on 19 carries.

“It was great to get an opportunity to play a little longer, get into a rhythm and just play hard,” Grice said about his effort against the Cardinals on Thursday.

Added McCoy: ““He’s done a nice job for us. I think he just got more opportunities. And that’s what we talked about earlier, is that some guys got more opportunities than they did earlier in the preseason. And that’s what this business is all about, making the most of your opportunities.”

Now that he’s on the roster, Grice will continue to focus on honing his skill set, watching and learning from the talented runners in front of him on the depth chart.

“I make sure I work on it every day in practice, trying to be a complete back,” Grice said. “I don’t want to just settle on being a third-down back. I want to be an every-down back. So I just keep working hard on it in practice.”