The LA Chargers have the RB1 position figured out for the 2022 season. That is a no-brainer. Austin Ekeler is one of the best running backs in the sport and what he brings to the offense is extremely valuable to the team's overall success.
However, running back, more so than any other position, needs a strong collective of players. Ekeler cannot be carrying the ball every single play and the Chargers have emphasized limiting his workload to keep him fresher for when the games really matter. The problem last year was the team had terrible depth behind Ekeler in the running back room.
That is why the Chargers spent a fourth-round pick on Isaiah Spiller, who is getting some first-team reps in training camp thus far. While Spiller has looked solid in his chances, another member of the running back rotation seems to be impressing Ekeler this early in Chargers training camp.
And it is the running back that we all (at least us here at Bolt Beat) have been ruling out: Joshua Kelley.
Joshua Kelley did start his NFL career off with a bang in 2020. After being selected in the fourth round of the 2020 draft, Kelley's first NFL game consisted of 60 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. In fact, Kelley was the first Chargers running back to score a touchdown in his NFL debut since LaDainian Tomlinson did it back in 2001.
Nobody expected Kelley to even sniff the greatness that is LT but fans were still excited nonetheless. That is what made his poor play the rest of the season (and in 2021) so disappointing. While there is a long way to go before the 2022 season starts, this is a promising sign for Kelley.
Larry Rountree appears to be the odd man out for the Chargers
Again, there is a lot of time until the 2022 season begins but as things are currently shaping up, it appears that the running back room will consist of Ekeler, Spiller and Kelley. Rountree seemingly had the edge over Kelley as he was actually drafted under Brandon Staley but he has followed behind early.
Both Spiller and Rountree have had impressive reps during practice and the same cannot really be said for Rountree. In fact, Rountree made an instant impression on just the second day of camp last week and it was not a good one.
The Chargers do not need Rountree if Kelley is looking like a new and refined running back. As promising as Spiller looks, nothing is a guarantee for a rookie running back and it is always better to be prepared for adversity at the position.
RB3 might not seem like a massive deal for the Chargers but it is. Having a quality running back option behind Ekeler and Spiller will make a difference next year and it does appear that Kelley is in the lead for that job.