Kelley has had a rough start for his Chargers career. After being drafted higher than expected in the 4th round, he started the year with 37 touches in the first two weeks and impressed on his debut against the Bengals.
However, things started to turn bad after consecutive fumbles in Week 3 and 4, combined with ineffective performances. That made him fall out of favor with the coaches and he had a sharp decline in playing time.
He still is a relatively high pick entering only his second season of his career. He has shown a few flashes here and there, and many could argue his bad performances are a matter of confidence. The thing is, despite his size, he doesn't actually bring many things to the table that Darius Bradwell or newly acquired Larry Rountree III don't possess.
While he's a better receiver than both running backs mentioned above, Austin Ekeler is vastly superior in that category while Justin Jackson also boasts receiving ability. Rountree III has also proved to be an able pass protector. Kelley's role on the team would be a short-yardage/goal-line role, which he possesses ideal size for.
However, he has subpar vision and he constantly crowds blockers, which hinders his ability to find a hole to plow through in short-yardage situations and makes himself an easier tackle for opposing defenders.
Kelley is listed as third on the Chargers' unofficial depth chart, behind Jackson and ahead of Rountree III and Bradwell. He entered camp in a competition with Rountree III for the third spot behind Ekeler and Jackson, while some even believed he was in contention for the top backup spot.
Those notions quickly changed after Saturday's preseason game against the LA Rams, in which Rountree III impressed and Bradwell scored a touchdown. Kelley followed up a mediocre performance with an unimpressive display in the second preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers in which he struggled to run behind a backup offensive line.
It may be that at this moment Kelley is in a battle with Bradwell for the 4th running back spot, if that even exists. It is possible that the Chargers only carry three backs on their roster.
The two things Kelley has going for him are his superior ability as a receiver as opposed to Bradwell and Rountree III as well as his higher draft capital. Bradwell could be cut and then stashed on the practice squad. Meanwhile, Kelley could be poached by another team in the event he is cut.
Kelley is a charismatic player with great spirit, and he's undoubtedly a good prescence in the locker room, but using a roster spot for a fourth running back that might not dress up on Sunday as opposed to players that can actually contribute might not interest the Chargers' decision makers.
Kelley has two preseason games left to prove he deserves a roster spot. Another showing similar to the one against the Rams, where he was overshadowed by the other backs on the roster, might doom him to the practice squad, if he's not claimed on waivers by another team.