Limited by a hamstring injury suffered in Week 4, Austin Ekeler played in just 10 games in 2020, seeing his production dwindle from 1,550 scrimmage yards in 2019 to 933 last season. In those 10 games, however, Ekeler averaged 4.6 yards per carry and 5.4 receptions per game (only Keenan Allen caught the ball more on average in 2020). Now healthy and entering a new offense under coordinator Joe Lombardi, Ekeler views himself as a chess piece the new play-caller can use in ways similar to how the Saints used Alvin Kamara. "I think that's something that I've learned about Joe coming in like this man is going to get his playmakers in space and situations where they can be successful," Ekeler said of the former Saints OC.
According to the L.A. Times, to understand the impact Ekeler has had on the Chargers' offense, we should consider this: In his four seasons, he never has rushed for more than 557 yards. The Times went on to remind readers that three things -- splitting time with other backs, extensive usage as a receiver and injuries -- have tempered Ekeler's annual rushing haul. Since Sept. 29, 2019, he has one rushing touchdown.
2021 Bottom Line
The backfield in L.A. remains roughly the same as last season, with Ekeler leading the way ahead of Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley. The club did add Larry Rountree III in the sixth round of the draft. It's a diverse backfield, but Ekeler fits best with how Lombardi prefers to use his backs, particularly in the passing game. If Ekeler stays healthy, expect him to return to his 1,200-plus scrimmage-yard ways.