The Chargers’ backfield is going to play a big factor in the Charger’s success this season.
In the Post-Rivers era, Anthony Lynn plans to incorporate a new offense under Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert that is a more rushing attack based offense. That starts with Austin Ekeler, who is a versatile back that excelled at reviving ability and making big plays.
The tandem of Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley should all have a big part in the Charger’s rushing attack this year.
The Chargers current top man on the depth chart, Ekeler was a machine last year when he was handed the starting running back job in the midst of the Melvin Gordon Holdout. The former UDFA, put up almost 1,500 scrimmage yards, while amazing almost 1,000 reviving yards (997) and just under 100 catches (95).
After the incredible season, the Chargers let Gordon walk, and entended Ekeler this off-season with a 4-year $25 million dollar deal. Ekeler is the main guy in the Chargers offense, as they transition to a more rushing focused offense. Ekeler should still get very similar usage as last year but did only had 1,371 total rushing yards in his career, which might lead to significant touches for whoever wins the 2nd RB job in Kelley and Jackson.
Jackson is another Chargers success story, the former 7th round pick has carved out a roll over the years with the Chargers. When given the opportunity he has been one of the most efficient running backs in the league. He is currently in the control of the second running back job, which should have a significant role this year.
Jackson is a balanced back that is good in the running and reviving game. However, the Chargers coaches have come out and said that he is going to be on a “short leash” this season. This likely means that the Chargers are high on Kelley, and plan to utilize him this season, but Jackson is still the second RB on the depth chart going into the season.
Kelley is the Chargers 4th round draft pick and should be able to produce for the Chargers this season at some point. This is the earliest the Chargers have taken an RB since Melvin Gordon, and they probably plan to use him in the future similar to Gordon. He is a punishing downhill runner from UCLA and was considered one of the Top 7 backs in the loaded 2020 RB class. With a high pick spent on him, he will likely have a longer leash than some of the other secondary backs, such as Justin Jackson.
Bradwell had some screentime on the Charger’s second episode of Hard Knocks. The Chargers staff was frustrated with his performance and the weight that he gained in the offseason. He started to do some extra training reps and plans to work on eating better.
It may be too little too late, both Gore and Bradwell are on the outside looking in at the solidified first 3RBs on the roster. However, this NFL season amid the COVID-19 pandemic will bring several problems, and issues that will cause players to have to sit out weeks.
The Chargers might keep Bradwell and Gore on the entended practice squad this year in order to keep their running back depth.
Gore was another addition to the Chargers in 2019. He was a practice squad player for several games, and he will likely be a part of the practice squad again this year.
The former Alabama Alum could carve out a role if some of the Charger’s running backs end up going down to injury. Here is a little article on his story.
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