SAN DIEGO (AP) -Jacob Hester has proven to be exactly as advertised during Chargers training camp: Tough, durable and a true gamer.
The third-round draft pick in April's draft will never pack the flash and dash of starting running back LaDainian Tomlinson but he certainly isn't shy about supplying lumber and thunder.
``He's that type of player,'' quarterback Philip Rivers gushes. ``'Let me run into somebody and run tough.'''
Hester has led the Chargers in rushing in both of their preseason contests. He had 49 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries in the opener against Dallas and followed that up with 59 yards on 12 rushes in last Saturday's loss at St. Louis.
Of course, the former LSU star knows the carries are going to dwindle drastically once the regular season starts. Tomlinson, who has led the NFL in rushing each of the past two seasons, doesn't play in preseason games.
``L.T. is the best in the game so it definitely won't be 12 carries but whatever my role is, I am just going to go out there and work hard,'' Hester said.
The Chargers coveted Hester in last April's draft and gave up a fifth-round draft pick and a 2009 second-round pick to New England to acquire the third-round pick they used on Hester.
The 5-foot-11, 225-pound Hester has done nothing but impress the Chargers ever since.
``He's got a knack for running the football,'' Chargers coach Norv Turner said. ``He's a good football player and he brings that energy that you want to the football team.''
Hester is competing with speedy Darren Sproles for the backup tailback spot behind Tomlinson. The team is looking to replace reliable backup Michael Turner, who left after last season as a free agent and signed with the Atlanta Falcons.
Tomlinson was highly comfortable with Turner spelling him. He's beginning to breathe a little easier about Hester after getting the chance to see him in game action.
``Hester, he reminds me a little bit of Michael Turner, just for his power being able to run through people,'' Tomlinson said. ``Both of them got very strong lower bodies.''
Hester rushed for 1,103 yards and 12 touchdowns last season while helping LSU win the BCS national championship. Playing at a high-profile school gave some Chargers a chance to see him play and form an opinion.
``Before I even met him, I said 'He's a football player,''' Rivers said. ``That's the kind of guy you want on your side.''
Hester smiles when Rivers' comments are relayed to him. It is the type of comment he's heard many times.
``That means a lot,'' Hester said. ``That's what I think of myself just a football player. I'm not too flashy and not this and that.
``But when it comes down to it, I just love to play football. So that's kind of the mindset that I have going into the game. Just do as much as I can.''
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