The Los Angeles Chargers have one of the best and most versatile running backs leading the backfield group in Austin Ekeler, but the issue of who will back him up has been somewhat contentious. The two favorites for the RB2 job are incumbent Joshua Kelley and rookie Isaiah Spiller.
While Kelley is the powerful veteran who has been with the team for the last two seasons, Spiller is a hotshot rookie who was widely regarded as one of the steals of the draft. No Chargers training camp report is complete without some mention of Spiller and how well he has been performing.
As the Chargers try to put the final touches on their depth chart before a preseason matchup against the defending champion Los Angeles Rams, both of these backs should prepare for a steady workload in their first 2022 action. Brandon Staley and Joe Lombardi will be watching this with great interest.
If the stated goal is to put the best 11 guys on the field as much as possible, the Chargers need to find ways to utilize Spiller, even at the expense of Kelley. A solid showing against the champs will do wonders for Spiller's status.
The Los Angeles Chargers should lean on Isaiah Spiller.
While Kelley reportedly looks more explosive in training camp, he's coming into the season with two consecutive years of poor production in which he averaged a combined 3.2 yards per carry. Kelley may have bulked up over the last few months, but the only reason Spiller is here is that Tom Telesco was dissatisfied with his play.
Spiller, fresh off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons at Texas A&M, is coming into the league as a bigger, faster back that had a penchant for breaking off explosive runs in college. If the Chargers want to go for the more high-risk, high-reward option, giving a rookie like Spiller a bigger platform should do the trick.
The biggest issue that Spiller had during his last few years in College Station was his vision, as he can frequently be indecisive when running between the tackles. This is an issue that needs to be fixed at full speed. If Spiller is hitting holes decisively against LA, he should vault over Kelley in this race.
Ekeler will be the workhorse for this backfield, but moving Spiller into the primary backup role and Kelley as a short-yardage back might be the best solution for everyone involved. Telesco has done a good job (at least lately) of drafting players that contribute early in their careers, and Spiller should not be an exception to this philosophy.