The LA Chargers still feel pretty thin at running back as we head into the 2022 season. That has been the reality for the team dating back to 2020. While Austin Ekeler is fantastic, the depth behind him at times has been less than ideal.
It does not help that Isaiah Spiller did not wow us as much as some had expected and is entering the season with an injury. Joshua Kelley did come into camp and play much better than expected, but he still has to prove it in the regular season. Larry Rountree continues to not make much of an impact but will likely still get a roster spot.
The Bolts let a running back walk this offseason as well in Justin Jackson. Jackson signed a one-year, $1 million contract late in the offseason with the Detroit Lions. There was plenty of time for the Chargers to bring Jackson back as a depth option simply to compete and potentially erase Rountree from the roster.
But alas, it was not meant to be. Jackson instead has had a pretty strong preseason with the Detroit Lions, even turning in a highlight-reel hurdle that was reminiscent of Kelley's hurdle against the New Orleans Saints.
In the final preseason game against the Steelers, Jackson carried the ball eight times for 44 yards while also adding 39 yards on two catches. This was the second straight game in which Jackson led the Lions in rushing yards, as he picked up 54 yards on seven carries the week prior.
Justin Jackson would have been a more talented option for the LA Chargers.
While Jackson's numbers have not been eye-popping, the film he put together was still impressive and showcases that when he is healthy, he is a talented back that can produce in both the passing and run game.
The emergence of Kelley does help some but there is no denying that Jackson is better than Rountree and would have at least provided a familiar option if Kelley and/or Spiller disappoint this season.
But the biggest issue with Jackson throughout his career has been his injuries. The best ability is availability in the NFL and Jackson has not been very consistent when it comes to staying healthy. We all know the talent is there, so that has to be the reason why the Chargers decided to ultimately move on and bet on Rountree and Kelley.
Half of that bet might pay off, the other half most certainly won't. If Justin Jackson makes the Lions roster and has a great year, and Kelley doesn't translate into the regular season, then the Chargers are going to be left wondering what could have been.