Austin Ekeler

Los Angeles Chargers
Running Back #30
Los Angeles Chargers
Running Back #30

Austin Ekeler News

Continues to lead backfield

Ekeler, who logged 1,558 all-purpose yards and 20 total TDs in 16 games last season, remains firmly atop the Chargers' RB depth chart as training camp approaches, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN and Daniel Popper of The Athletic.

Analysis: As long as the 27-year-old remains healthy, he'll continue to log enough touches to remain a valuable fantasy asset, especially given his usage as a pass-catcher out of the Chargers' backfield. With Justin Jackson no longer on the roster, Isaiah Spiller, Larry Rountree and Joshua Kelley are in the mix to handle complementary work, and though the team's No. 2 role hasn't been handed to Spiller, it's one that the 2022 fourth-rounder has a solid chance to claim. If so, he'd be the player to target in the event that Ekeler misses any time this coming season.

Jul 5, 2022 1:29 PM EST

Two TDs caps off historic season

Ekeler registered 16 carries for 64 yards and also caught five of his 12 targets for 35 yards to go along with two total touchdowns in Sunday's 35-32 overtime loss to the Raiders.

Analysis: Ekeler ultimately tied the Colts' Jonathan Taylor for the most total touchdowns this season despite playing one fewer game as the dynamic running back asserted himself as one of the premier red-zone specialists in the NFL and answered his critics by remaining mostly healthy despite a massive increase in workload. The fifth-year running back did fall short of his lofty projections in terms of receptions, but that's in large part because Ekeler was forced to take on far more carries than anticipated. The Chargers are expected to aggressively target a complimentary back to Ekeler this offseason either through the draft or free agency, but after a career year nearly across the board in his first year in Joe Lombardi's system, it's hard to imagine the genie getting put back in the bottle.

Jan 9, 2022 10:01 PM EST

Tops century mark once more

Ekeler (illness) tallied 17 carries for 58 yards and one touchdown to go along with three receptions for 54 yards in Sunday's 34-13 win over the Broncos.

Analysis: A week after testing positive for COVID-19 and subsequently missing the demoralizing loss to the Texans, Ekeler came right back and continued to build upon his touchdown streak extending his consecutive games-scored total to four. The emergence of Justin Jackson (60 total yards on 15 touches) should help the dynamic jack-of-all trades running back get a bit of rest throughout the game, but expect Ekeler to remain arguably the Chargers' top weapon in the red zone.

Jan 2, 2022 5:01 PM EST

Activated off COVID list

Ekeler has been activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list, per the NFL's official transaction report.

Analysis: With Ekeler back in the mix and in line to reclaim his starting running back duties, look for Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley to revert to their usual complementary roles when the Chargers face the Broncos on Sunday.

Dec 27, 2021 3:27 PM EST

Not cleared for Week 16

Ekeler announced on Instagram that he tested positive for COVID-19 again Saturday and won't play Sunday against the Texans, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: Until Ekeler, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, is able to clear COVID protocols, Justin Jackson is poised to head the Chargers' backfield, with Joshua Kelley a candidate for added touches and Larry Rountree likely to be active in a depth role against Houston.

Dec 25, 2021 11:25 AM EST

Not confident in playing Week 16

Ekeler (illness) acknowledged Thursday during his weekly appearance on Yahoo Sports' "Ekeler's Edge" fantasy football show that his chances of returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list prior to Sunday's game against the Texans aren't "looking good." "Just dealing with this day to day, you know, we have new protocols in place, I had to get tested every day and have two negative tests, no symptoms," Ekeler said, recounting his experience since testing positive for the virus earlier this week. "And so right now I can tell you, it's not looking good. Just because of the history of COVID and how long it usually takes to dissipate or at least for your body to beat it."

Analysis: If vaccinated, Ekeler is eligible to play so long as he's asymptomatic of the virus or able to turn in two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart, but based on his comments on his situation to this point, he's preparing as though he won't be able to go Week 16. In his interview with Yahoo Sports' Liz Loza, Ekeler went as far as recommending that fantasy managers pick up his backup, Justin Jackson, who will likely be primed for a larger workload in the event Ekeler sits. Joshua Kelley also looms as a depth option out of the Los Angeles backfield and should have a role in the game plan if Ekeler sits out for the first time this season.

Dec 24, 2021 3:18 PM EST

Placed on COVID list

Ekeler has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network and Aaron Wilson of Sportstalk 790 Houston report.

Analysis: There had been reports earlier in the week suggesting that Ekeler was headed to the list, however it wasn't until Wednesday that the move was reported on the NFL transaction wire. If Ekeler isn't cleared prior to Sunday's game against the Texans, Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley would be next up for the Chargers' Week 16 carries.

Dec 22, 2021 1:54 PM EST

Not practicing Wednesday

Ekeler (undisclosed) wasn't spotted at practice Wednesday, Daniel Popper of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Ekeler also wasn't seen at Monday's session, with either the Chargers' upcoming injury report and/or the official NFL transaction report likely to add some clarity regarding the running back's absence. At this stage, Ekeler is not among the players listed on the team's reserve/COVID-19 list.

Dec 22, 2021 1:24 PM EST

Misses practice Monday, Week 16 status TBD

Updating an earlier report, while Ekeler (undisclosed) wasn't at practice Monday, the running back was not among the Chargers placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, per Daniel Popper of The Athletic.

Analysis: A previous report indicated that Ekeler was headed to the list, but his name didn't appear on Monday's initial NFL transaction report. In any case, while it doesn't appear that such a move was officially made, Ekeler's status is nonetheless worth monitoring closely, given his absence from practice.

Dec 20, 2021 2:50 PM EST

Placed on COVID-19 list

The Chargers placed Ekeler (undisclosed) on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, Daniel Popper of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Ekeler was one of several Chargers who landed on the COVID-19 list Monday, although it's not yet clear whether the running back has tested positive for the virus. His status for Sunday's game against the Texans remains to be seen, but Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley should see increased playing time if Ekeler is unavailable.

Dec 20, 2021 10:22 AM EST

Curiously minimized in loss

Ekeler (ankle) carried the ball 12 times for 59 yards and a score in Thursday's 34-28 loss to the Chiefs. He also caught all four of his targets for 23 yards.

Analysis: In what amounted to a critical divisional matchup with AFC West supremacy essentially on the line, the Chargers' bizarre choice to not feature Ekeler in the red zone at critical junctures will go down as one of the more baffling decisions of the season. It's hard to view the backfield breakdown, which saw both Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley combine for 20 carries, as anything but an indictment on Ekeler's injured ankle considering the Pro Bowler was considered a game-time decision entering Thursday's contest. While the expectation was Ekeler wouldn't see a full workload, few could have imagined the team would give critical goal-line carries to the aforementioned backups and the Chargers predictably failed to convert three separate times within the five-yard line throughout the game with Kelley's third-and-one fumble from the one-yard line early in the fourth quarter standing out as an egregious mistake. That red-zone usage will be important with a seemingly juicy matchup against the Texans on tap next week. Another three-headed backfield like Thursday could siphon away valuable opportunities in a game that likely could see the Chargers rest their star running back if they race out ahead quickly.

Dec 16, 2021 9:12 PM EST

Suits up Thursday night

Ekeler (ankle) is listed as active for Thursday night's game against Kansas City, Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Analysis: The Chargers' lead back will give it a go Thursday, though Taylor Bisciotti of NFL Network previously suggested that Ekeler may not handle his normal workload level, though we'd imagine he'll still get a share of touches versus Kansas City, in the absence of any in-game setbacks. Also in the team's Week 15 backfield mix are Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley, who could mix in more than usual, as Ekeler works through his ankle issue.

Dec 16, 2021 3:58 PM EST

Likely to suit up Thursday

Ekeler (ankle), who is listed as questionable for Thursday's game against the Chiefs, is expected to play, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: The Chargers won't decide on Ekeler's status until after evaluating him in a pregame workout, but barring a setback, he'll avoid the inactive list and start at running back as he usually does. However, Taylor Bisciotti of NFL Network, citing a source, has been told that Ekeler won't handle a full workload, so reserve backs Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree could be in store for more snaps than usual. Even if that's the case, Ekeler is still the odds-on favorite to lead the group in snaps and touches, so fantasy managers outside of the shallowest of leagues shouldn't have too many reservations about including him in weekly lineups.

Dec 16, 2021 6:29 AM EST

Dealing with ankle soreness

In reference to Ekeler (ankle), who is listed as questionable for Thursday night's contest against Kansas City, coach Brandon Staley noted Wednesday that "Austin is just sore, but we're going to make sure before the game that he's feeling OK," Gilbert Manzano of The Orange County Register reports.

Analysis: Ekeler thus heads into Week 15 action viewed as a game-time decision, but in the wake of back-to-back listed limited practice sessions Tuesday and Wednesday, it would probably take a pre-game setback for the Chargers' top running back to land on the inactive list for Thursday night's 8:20 ET contest.

Dec 15, 2021 2:57 PM EST

Deemed game-time decision

Ekeler (ankle) is slated to work out prior to Thursday night's game against Kansas City before a determination is made on his playing status for the contest, Field Yates of ESPN reports.

Analysis: The same applies to safety Derwin James (hamstring) and cornerback Asante Samuel (concussion), though Ekeler's presence at practice Tuesday and Wednesday would appear to bode well for his chances of suiting up for Thursday night's 8:20 ET contest. Next up for the Chargers' carries if Ekeler is limited or out are Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley and possibly Larry Rountree.

Dec 15, 2021 1:57 PM EST

Questionable for TNF

Ekeler (ankle) is listed as questionable for Thursday night's game against Kansas City.

Analysis: After being listed as a non-participant Monday, Ekeler was limited Tuesday and then participated in practice Wednesday. Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times previously relayed via coach Brandon Staley that Ekeler could have returned to this past Sunday's game, if necessary, so we'd imagine that the running back is trending toward active status in Week 15. Either way, his availability will be confirmed approximately 90 minutes before Thursday night's 8:20 ET kickoff.

Dec 15, 2021 1:20 PM EST

Participating in practice

Ekeler (ankle) is practicing Wednesday, John Keim of reports.

Analysis: Ekeler was held out Monday and limited Tuesday, with the Chargers hoping he'll be able to play Thursday night against the Chiefs. Wideout Mike Williams (heel) and tight end Jared Cook (quad) also are practicing Wednesday, potentially giving QB Justin Herbert a healthy group of pass catchers for the highly anticipated AFC West matchup.

Dec 15, 2021 12:22 PM EST

Gets limited tag Tuesday

Ekeler (ankle) was limited at Tuesday's walkthrough.

Analysis: One day removed from being estimated as a non-participant on the Chargers' initial practice report of Week 15, Ekeler managed some activity as the team gears up for Thursday's divisional showdown with the Chiefs. He appears to be trending in the right direction after getting forced out of the team's Week 14 win versus the Giants with an ankle injury that coach Brandon Staley considered to be "nothing major" Monday, per Daniel Popper of The Athletic. Still, though, Ekeler's status is one to monitor considering his standing L.A.'s offense. Aside from Ekeler, the team's backfield is composed of Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree.

Dec 14, 2021 3:04 PM EST

DNP on practice estimate

Ekeler (ankle) was listed as a non-participant on Monday's practice estimate, Daniel Popper of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: That said, coach Brandon Staley has indicated that Ekeler's ankle issue is "nothing major" and that the the Chargers' top back is expected back at practice in advance of Thursday night's game against Kansas City.

Dec 13, 2021 3:02 PM EST

Not expected to miss time

Ekeler (ankle) is expected to be fine moving forward and coach Brandon Staley said after Sunday's 37-21 win over the Giants that Ekeler could have returned to the game if necessary, Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Analysis: Ekeler exited in the third quarter, and the Chargers didn't see a need to push him with the game well in hand. Staley's post-game comments suggest the star running back is unlikely to miss additional time, but Ekeler's participation in practice leading up to Thursday's game against the Chiefs will still bear monitoring, as the short week falls at an inconvenient time for the banged-up Ekeler. Fellow running backs Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley saw a near-even split in opportunities against the Giants, with 42 scrimmage yards on 10 touches and 38 yards on 11 touches, respectively.

Dec 12, 2021 5:15 PM EST

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