On Tuesday, the LA Chargers placed running back Justin Jackson on the reserve/COVID-19 list:
Jackson was about to kick off a crucial training camp period that would determine his future on the team. While he's thought of by many to be the second best back on the team behind Austin Ekeler, Jackson has had trouble staying healthy. The former Northwestern product has only been able to play in 16 games over the last two seasons. If unvaccinated, Jackson will have to be on the reserve list for at least 10 days before possibly returning to the team.
However, if Jackson is vaccinated, he could return to the team fairly quickly following two negative tests within a 24 hour period.
What Justin Jackson's positive test could mean for the LA Chargers:
The Chargers do still have Joshua Kelley, Larry Rountree, and Darius Bradwell who will presumably be moving up the depth chart for the time being. Kelley had a breakout training camp last year before largely faltering in the regular season. The one who can truly put the pressure on Jackson during training camp is Kelley. Regaining that initial form he had early last year could be a final roster game changer.
Barring something unexpected, the team also won't cut a newly drafted Rountree. The bottom line for Jackson is that Tom Telesco has drafted two running backs in each of the last two years. Starting out this training camp away from the action can only be seen as a negative for his campaign to make the roster.
Daniel Popper of The Athletic seemed to believe in his53-man roster prediction piece that Jackson would be cut before he was placed on the reserve list.
If there's a real chance that he misses up to 14 days of training camp on top of his current roster bubble situation, that could spell disaster. If the team were to release Jackson during the 53-man roster cutdown, they'd be fine with their cap situation too. With the former seventh-round pick entering the last year of his deal, there is no dead cap on the condition of release.
While Jackson's starting behind the 8-ball, it certainly is far from over. If Jackson is back within a week, I still like his chances to make the roster. However, an extended absence would clearly damage the new coaching staffs' chances of giving him a fair shake in their roster evaluation.