Chargers HC Brandon Staley ‘Optimistic’ RB Austin Ekeler will play against WFT

Chargers running back practiced on Friday in a limited capacity.
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The Chargers announced on Friday afternoon that running back Austin Ekeler practiced in a limited role and would be questionable heading into Sunday's game against the Washington Football Team.

Head coach Brandon Staley said it popped up during the team's Monday Labor Day practice. He said Ekeler felt "a little something" but says it was nothing significant.

Staley said the team was cautious with him on Wednesday and Thursday by him not practicing. He did practice on Friday, taking part in team drills during the portion open to the media.

"Today, he looked good," said Staley. "Optimistic for sure."

The head coach said they will need to get to Washington and see how everything goes from then until they get to FedEx Field on Sunday, but he feels good about it.

Good sign for the running back.

This offense revolves around quarterback Justin Herbert, but Ekeler is a big part of it. During training camp, he did a lot from running the football, splitting out wide as a receiver, and seemed to be involved in a lot of what the Chargers are planning on running offensively.

Ekeler is questionable, so even if he does play, he could be limited on Sunday, and that means the rest of the backs will need to pick up the slack. If Ekeler is limited on Sunday, that means the team could be cautious with him and only use him when necessary.

The Chargers have some capable backs. Staley mentioned that only three will dress for the game out of the four they have on the 53-man roster.

The one with the most experience is running back Justin Jackson, but he has been hit with the injury bag the last few seasons. This training camp was no different.

Jackson had a good showing against the L.A. Rams in preseason game one and suffered a groin injury. He returned recently, but offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has confidence in the fourth-year back.

"I think we feel good about what we saw before he got nicked up," said Lombardi. "He's come back, looks healthy, and has given us everything that we thought we saw before the injury. We feel good about Justin."

The Bolts also have running back Joshua Kelley, who had a strong two games to start the season but then had a fumbling issue and some special teams mistakes. Kelley has since said that he has grown from last season and feels ready for the upcoming season.

Rookie Larry Rountree rounds out the backs on the 53-man roster. He had good showings during the preseason and will look to build on that in season. He is a little bit bigger than the three other backs and could be the short-yardage guy.

Even having Ekeler in a limited will be a boost for this offense. It will be interesting to see if this was all pre-cautionary like Staley has been all training camp with certain players and Ekeler comes out and plays heavy snaps or a healthy rotation between three of them.