Running backs (4): Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley, Larry Rountree III
The lock of this group is pretty clearly Austin Ekeler. RB1 will be back for a hopefully healthy season after a hamstring injury caused him to miss time in 2020. After that, it’s actually a lot less obvious than usual.
Justin Jackson is coming into the final year of his rookie deal after two years of injury struggles. In the last two seasons, Jackson has played in just 16 of 32 games. That’s something that grabs your attention, especially with a new coaching staff coming in. However, Jackson’s talent and field vision cannot be denied. He is without a doubt the second best back on the team.
The other issue is that the other three running backs that could potentially replace Jackson are not as experienced. Joshua Kelley was a healthy scratch for a series of games last year, Darius Bradwell was mostly a practice squad player, and sixth-round pick Larry Rountree is obviously a rookie.
Despite an inconsistent rookie season, Kelley has to make the roster. The Chargers invested a high day three pick into the former UCLA back. He did show some flashes early on in the season, particularly in the Cincinnati and Kansas City games.
The Bolts have traditionally carried three running backs, but the drafting of Rountree in the sixth round does complicate that. With his special teams skills, he does crack a spot on the active roster. Whether he’d be active for gameday each week is probably situational depending on the matchup.
Bradwell is the odd man out for the time being. Maybe we see more from him in the preseason this year, but his erratic 2020 training camp performance should lead to a bit of a wait and see approach.