Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler will be sitting out Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings due to an ankle injury, as announced by the team on Friday. This comes after Ekeler left the Week 1 game against the Miami Dolphins with the injury and missed Week 2’s game against the Titans. The Chargers also confirmed that linebacker Eric Kendricks will be ruled out for Sunday’s game.
Ekeler’s absence has been a cause for concern for the Chargers, but there is some hope that he may be making progress in his recovery. Earlier in the week, Ekeler was seen on the practice field during the media-open portion of practice, which was a positive sign. Although he did not participate in practice, he was present in a t-shirt jersey and sneakers, observing individual drills and conversing with running backs coach Derrick Foster. This pattern continued on Thursday, but Ekeler was not present on Friday’s practice, leading to the official ruling of his absence for Sunday’s game.
Last week, Ekeler was listed as doubtful before being downgraded to out on Saturday. This week, the Chargers decided to rule him out on Friday. When asked about the implications of Ekeler being doubtful for Week 2 and out for Week 3, coach Brandon Staley stated that it does not necessarily indicate a setback for Ekeler’s ankle. Staley mentioned that Ekeler is working hard to make a return and they will see how things progress in the coming weeks.
With Ekeler sidelined, Joshua Kelley will once again take on the lead back role for the Chargers. In last week’s game against the Titans, Kelley rushed for 39 yards on 13 carries. The Vikings’ defense ranks 31st in the league in defensive success rate on designed rushes, which suggests that the Chargers’ rushing attack should have opportunities to bounce back. In Week 1 against the Dolphins, the Chargers led the league in rushing, with Kelley gaining 91 yards on 16 carries. Behind Kelley, rookie Elijah Dotson played nine snaps and second-year back Isaiah Spiller played four snaps. Dotson seems to have the edge as the RB2 behind Kelley.
In conclusion, the absence of Austin Ekeler due to an ankle injury is a setback for the Los Angeles Chargers. However, there are signs of progress in his recovery, as he made appearances on the practice field earlier in the week. In his absence, Joshua Kelley will take on the lead back role and will have opportunities to exploit the Vikings’ struggling rush defense. The Chargers will need to adapt and find success without Ekeler, but they have options in their backfield to help fill the void.