The LA Chargers defeated the LA Rams 13-6 on Saturday in the first preseason game of the season for the Bolts. The Chargers scored two field goals and one touchdown in the game, belonging to rookie running back Larry Rountree III.
Rountree got the bulk of the carries as the Chargers are being very cautious with the starting players in the preseason. Rountree essentially entered the preseason as the fourth running back on the depth chart, so it makes sense that he got the majority of the carries.
While he entered the preseason as the fourth running back on the depth chart, all the stars are aligning for Rountree to have a bigger role on the 2021 Chargers than he, or the fans, may have expected.
The doors are opening for Larry Rountree III to be the RB2 on the LA Chargers.
This has more to do with more than just Rountree's performance in the game. The external factors around Rountree are also aligning for him to move up the depth chart.
First is how Joshua Kelley is performing. Kelley got just as many carries as Rountree and the difference can be seen in the box score. It is so much deeper than the box score, though.
Kelley exhibited a lot of the same issues that he had last season. He struggled in recognizing the running lanes in the offensive line and lacks the explosiveness that Rountree exhibited.
It is only one game, but Rountree already appears to be ahead of Kelley when it comes to block recognition and bursting to the hole. That is why Rountree was a big winner from the preseason game and Kelley was a big loser.
Quite frankly, it would not even be all that surprising if Kelley got cut. He was seemingly drafted because of Anthony Lynn, who is no longer with the team. Brandon Staley does not have the same attachment to Kelley that Lynn might have had.
The other factor to consider is Justin Jackson's health. It is well-known that Jackson struggles to stay healthy and that has continued this season as well. He got hurt in the preseason opener and while it does not appear to be serious, it just continues the trend.
The talent edge still has to go to Jackson but it is important that we do not overstate his value. Yes, he has shown flashes of being a really good second running back, but those have just been flashes.
Rountree has only had one flash, so Jackson's are obviously more substantial to the position battle. But if you cannot stay healthy it doesn't really matter much.
Rountree's stock is definitely going up. He is someone who every fan should keep an eye on during the LA Chargers preseason.