I’ve been to my share of church services over the years: white, black, Asian, Catholic, Presbyterian, subdued, musically inclined, traditional, and new age. Regardless of the congregation, bells and whistles, or place of worship, it’s always been about the sermon. A good sermon hits me right in the feels and gets me to come back for more. It’s not just about the message, though. There’s delivery, style, and enthusiasm, which differs from pastor to pastor. But pastors are human, so they get sick or have to travel from time to time. As a result, guest pastors make an appearance. Sometimes for the worse, but sometimes for the better. When the latter occurs, I incline from my recline, move my ass to meld with the back of the pew, transform into a perpendicular, and let me eyes and ears injest the lovely goodness. Which is exactly what happened on Sunday at the Church of Red Zone when I was expecting Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson to lead the Chargers, but instead it was Troymaine Pope who kept popping off the screen and delivering. Who is Pope and can he continue delivering?
Pope is 27 years old, 5′ 8″, and 205 pounds. He played his college ball at Jacksonville State and went undrafted in the 2016 NFL Draft.
He initially signed with the Seattle Seahawks, went to the New York Jets, returned to the Seahawks, was acquired by the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, then returned again to the Seahawks, before settling with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018.
Prior to this season, Pope had played in 22 games, rushed 34 times for 108 yards, caught four passes on seven targets for 24 yards with one touchdown, and contributed on special teams.
The Player Profiler page is no, no, no, nice shot. He runs a 4.6 40-yard dash. Yuck. The speed score is in the 31st percentile, but the burst score is in the 54th percentile and the agility score is in the 84th percentile. Pope also benched 225 pounds 25 times, which puts him in the 85th percentile.
But he was popping off the screen on Sunday. Hitting the holes hard, skirting around defenders, and even catching passes. When I went to YouTube and checked out his highlights, I saw the same thing. He even had a 81-yard punt return to the house during Week 2 of the preseason last year, so he does possess juice.
On Sunday, Pope ended up with a stat line of 10 rushes for 67 yards and 5 receptions on 7 targets for 28 yards. The line could’ve been better if he didn’t get knocked out of the game by Kareem Jackson. During the first half of the game, the snap distribution among all the Chargers running backs was close to 30% for each player. According to Michael Florio, Justin Jackson garnered 37%, Joshua Kelley, 32%, and Troymaine Pope 32%.
Pope made his first appearance of the season last week and received one carry, so it’s surprising to see him make such an impact in a short amount of time. Maybe that’s an indictment against Jackson and Kelley, who were rushing for 3.4 and 3.1 yards per attempt respectively on the season.
The triumvirate of Kelley, Jackson, and Pope are being utilized because Austin Ekeler is still recovering from his injury. Week 10 looks to be the earliest for his return, so that means only a few more weeks before Pope likely gets demoted. But, but, but…..
The next two games are juicy for the run game, as the Las Vegas Raiders and Miami Dolphins are on the schedule. According to Football Outsiders, the Dolphins are dead-last in rush defense, while the Raiders are 29th.
Now, Pope likely suffered a concussion on Sunday, so his availability is in question. Plus, it’s still a three-headed backfield until Ekeler returns. With that said, if Pope is cleared for action and you’re desperate for a running back, Pope could deliver some fantasy goodness over the next two weeks.