After a relatively healthy training camp, a surprise when running back Austin Ekeler didn’t line up to take handoffs from quarterback Justin Herbert. The Chargers injury report says he has an injured hamstring and that is why he didn’t practice.
The Chargers offense will be dependent on Ekeler and his talents this season. He is a back that can be used many different ways and causes a mismatch when split out wide.
If the running back were to miss Sunday's matchup in Washington, the offense would miss him. Ekeler is slippery, so with that heavy pass rush coming at Herbert, some screen passes with him could work.
Last season, the team was without Ekeler for six games, and they struggled as he nursed a hamstring injury. He did have over 900 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns, but they needed him in certain situations that cost the team games.
There is nothing to worry about yet with the running back because they still have two practices. Ekeler will do everything possible to play on Sunday.
The biggest question heading into this season has been the availability of right tackle Bryan Bulaga this season. The coaching staff has done everything possible to keep him healthy to play on Sundays. He has missed preseason games and been allowed to sit out practices.
Brandon Staley told the media that Bulaga was feeling good after Monday's practice, and he felt better the next two days. The head coach was asked if the right tackle was trending towards playing on Sunday, "Yes."
That is a good sign for the offensive line and Herbert. The Chargers are already facing the challenge of going up against that daunting Washington pass rush, so they need all of their starting offensive linemen ready.
There was a microscope on rookie cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. during training camp to see how he would perform and if he could adjust to the NFL. He has looked the part all of camp.
Obviously, there have been some good and not-so-good plays, but the rookie is adjusting and playing well. On Wednesday, Staley told the media that Samuel is now cornerback two starting opposite Michael Davis.
"Asante (has) come a long way," said safety Derwin James. "He's always had the talent, he always had to athleticism and stuff, but now he's like I said he's another guy that's communicating. He's alerting, you know, splits. He's doing everything now."
Staley has said for numerous weeks now that wide receiver K.J. Hill is their starting punt returner. For kickoff return last week, he said Hill, Nasir Adderley, Justin Jackson, and Larry Rountree were all in the running for that spot.
On Wednesday, he called Adderley "the lead in that role" but said that he, along with special teams Derius Swinton, will see how the rest of the of the week plays out.