Even as early as the second day of training camp, it is important for fringe players like CB Richard Crawford to perform well. During Friday's practice, the young Oceanside native continued to do exactly that.
Working with the third-string defense during 11-on-11s, Crawford was aggressive coming up against the run and forced an incompletion by blanketing wide receiver Titus Davis in coverage. Later in practice, Crawford made his presence felt on consecutive plays, breaking up passes intended for Tyrell Williams and Torrence Allen. Both times Crawford showed impressive closing speed and quickness, coming back to the to force the incompletions.
Additionally, the former SMU Mustang was solid on special teams, the bread and butter for young, unheralded players trying to stick on NFL rosters. Crawford flew down the field working as a gunner, a position the Chargers are looking to replace after the departure of Seyi Ajirotutu, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. Crawford also positioned himself well covering returners Jacoby Jones and Branden Oliver during kick coverage drills.
While impressive thus far, Crawford (5'11", 192 lbs.) still faces an uphill climb in his quest for a roster spot. With Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett obvious locks, and the added depth of free-agent pickup Patrick Robinson and third-round pick Craig Mager, there may not be room for another corner (Steve Williams is considered a shoe-in, as well). Even if circumstances allow for another cornerback on the roster, Crawford would still have to beat out Chris Davis and Greg Ducre, who have both looked strong through training camp's first couple practices.
Entering his third year in the league, Crawford has the advantage of some actual NFL game experience under his belt. A seventh-round pick by the Redskins in 2012, Crawford saw action in 10 games his rookie year, racking up 18 tackles, two pass breakups, an interception and a fumble recovery. However, this early success was halted by a knee injury, which forced Crawford to miss the entire 2013 regular season.
Last year, Crawford spent time on both the 53-man rosters and practice squads of the Redskins and Chargers, but was not active for a game.
Even if Crawford keeps up his strong showing for the rest of camp, he is not assured a roster spot. But he if doesn't stick around in San Diego, look for him to be picked up quickly by another team, as his combination of athleticism, smarts and play-making ability is difficult to come by.
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A San Diego native, Trenton Villanueva graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and a minor in the hydraulic principles of the keg. Prior to writing for SDBR, he covered sports news for FanSided and wrote music reviews for the San Diego State Daily Aztec. Follow him on Twitter @TrentNotDilfer