Joshua Kelley

Los Angeles Chargers
Running Back #27
Los Angeles Chargers
Running Back #27
Photo: Icon Sportswire

Joshua Kelley News

Mundane second season

Kelley tallied 33 carries for 102 yards and five catches for 38 yards across the 2021 campaign.

Analysis: The 2020 fourth-round pick took a dramatic step back after a disappointing rookie campaign, often waffling between the No. 3 and No. 4 back throughout 2021. At this point it's not even certain whether Kelley will be retained following back-to-back seasons under 3.5 yards-per-carry, but the Chargers lack of depth behind stalwart Austin Ekeler might give the UCLA product enough wiggle room to compete for a depth role come next season.

Jan 26, 2022 9:23 AM EST

Does little with six touches

Kelley had five carries for seven yards and caught his lone target for 14 yards during Sunday's 41-29 loss to Houston.

Analysis: Kelley played 27 percent of the offensive snaps and did little with his opportunities in the absence of Austin Ekeler (COVID-19 protocols), while Justin Jackson totaled 162 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Ekeler is back and should reclaim the every-down role for the final two weeks of the season, but it's clear Kelley is entrenched as the No. 3 tailback with Jackson serving as the top backup option.

Dec 28, 2021 6:38 PM EST

Critical fumble in loss

Kelley carried the ball seven times for 21 yards to go along with one fumble in Thursday's 34-28 overtime loss to the Chiefs.

Analysis: Kelley's fumble could have long-term ramifications considering the goal-line gaffe was simply an egregious mistake in a pivotal situation. While the second-year back has seen 17 carries over the past two weeks with the Chargers carefully managing Austin Ekeler's ankle injury, Kelley has predictably struggled with the usage averaging close to three yards per carry. It's entirely possible Larry Rountree, who was a healthy inactive Thursday, could push for additional playing time in light of Kelley's latest miscue.

Dec 17, 2021 7:04 AM EST

Ten carries off the bench

Kelley ran for 33 yards on 10 carries against the Giants on Sunday.

Analysis: Kelley and fellow running back Justin Jackson (nine carries for 35 yards) saw elevated workloads due to starter Austin Ekeler suffering an ankle injury in the third quarter. It's not clear what Ekeler's status might be for Week 15, but if he misses time then based on Sunday's game it would be Kelley and Jackson to get the first cracks at the vacated workload. Kelley and Larry Rountree (inactive, coach's decision Sunday) are probably the Chargers' best candidates to run between the tackles among their backup runners, with the lightly-built Jackson maybe profiling best for the passing down work.

Dec 12, 2021 5:06 PM EST

Does nothing in win

Kelley didn't record any counting stats across his two offensive snaps in Sunday's 41-22 win over the Bengals.

Analysis: The third-string running back only saw two snaps with eight previously being his lowest. Austin Ekeler consistently dominates the backfield while Justin Jackson typically acts as the main backup, although the snap share has oscillated week to week based on his health. Jackson is slowly returning from a quadricep injury and has missed several games throughout the season, but he essentially renders Kelley useless whenever he's healthy.

Dec 7, 2021 1:54 PM EST

Two catches in loss

Kelley carried the ball once for five yards while also catching two of three targets for 15 yards in Sunday's 28-13 loss to the Broncos.

Analysis: Kelley's longest pass reception went for 17 yards in which he hurdled over a Denver defender to almost get the first down. The 2020 fourth-round pick was on the field for 23 percent of all offensive snaps. Other backup running back Justin Jackson did not play an offensive snap, and Larry Rountree was inactive because of a coach's decision, two major positive signs for Kelley. Darius Bradwell did make his 2021 season debut and played sparingly, but at least for the moment the second-year back seems to be the top of a complicated running back depth chart.

Nov 30, 2021 1:24 PM EST

Healthy scratch Sunday

Kelley (coach's decision) is inactive for Sunday's game against the Steelers.

Analysis: Kelley recorded four carries for 12 yards while hauling in his lone target for four yards across the last two games, but he won't suit up in Week 11. Justin Jackson should serve as the primary backup to Austin Ekeler now that he's healthy.

Nov 21, 2021 4:03 PM EST

One touch in loss

Kelley carried the ball one time for six yards in Sunday's 27-20 loss against the Vikings.

Analysis: Kelley's usage was minimal Sunday as he was only on the field for 14 percent of all offensive snaps. The second-year running back saw four less carries than Larry Roundtree, a running back who has received less touches than Kelley in weeks past. In addition, Roundtree received goal-line work over the 23-year-old in which he capitalized by scoring a touchdown.

Nov 16, 2021 10:24 AM EST

Sees more playing time

Kelley carried the ball three times for six yards, and caught his only target for four yards in the 27-24 win over the Eagles on Sunday.

Analysis: Kelley became the No. 2 running back as Justin Jackson was out with a quad injury. Kelley and rookie sixth-round pick, Larry Rountree, have oscillated as the primary short-yardage ball carriers throughout the season without much rhyme or reason. With Jackson's status still up in the air, Kelley could be looking at more snaps in the upcoming weeks.

Nov 9, 2021 8:15 AM EST

Back in the mix

Kelley is listed as active for Sunday's game against the Eagles.

Analysis: Kelley is back in the mix Sunday, with Justin Jackson out with a quad injury. In the process, he's in line to work in a complementary role along with Larry Rountree behind the Chargers' top back, Austin Ekeler.

Nov 7, 2021 12:11 PM EST

Inactive Sunday

Kelley is inactive for Sunday's game against the Patriots.

Analysis: With Kelley inactive Sunday, Justin Jackson and Larry Rountree are on hand to work in complementary roles behind top back Austin Ekeler.

Oct 31, 2021 11:45 AM EST

Gets four carries in loss

Kelley carried the ball four times for seven yards in Sunday's 34-6 loss to the Ravens.

Analysis: Kelley continued to serve as the backup behind Austin Ekeler for the second straight week. The Chargers struggled to move the ball on offense Sunday, resulting in a rough fantasy day for most of the team's skill position players. Ekeler and Kelley each gained seven yards on the ground, totaling six and four carries, respectively. For the Chargers, this game was one to forget. Fantasy managers can assume that Kelley is the backup to roster in the event that Ekeler is sidelined with an injury going forward. The 23-year-old running back is on bye this week, but the Chargers will host the Patriots in Week 8.

Oct 20, 2021 5:39 AM EST

Assumes backup role in debut

Kelley carried the ball two times for 17 yards in Sunday's 47-42 win over the Browns.

Analysis: Kelley was activated for the first time this season and promptly usurped rookie Larry Rountree as the backup behind Austin Ekeler, earning 26 offensive snaps while Rountree and Justin Jackson saw zero. It's a bit odd to see Kelley into the backup role after struggling through the preseason and the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, but it's also not a role that has a lot of value with Austin Ekeler thriving as a three-down workhorse.

Oct 11, 2021 5:18 PM EST

Active against Cleveland

Kelley is active for Sunday's game against Cleveland, Gilbert Manzano of The Orange County Register reports.

Analysis: Kelley will be active for the first time this season, but he's not expected to have a large role on a backfield that's crowded and already led by Austin Ekeler and Larry Rountree.

Oct 10, 2021 12:00 PM EST

Inactive for Week 2

Kelley is inactive for Sunday's game against the Cowboys.

Analysis: With Kelley inactive for the second straight game, Austin Ekeler, Larry Rountree and Justin Jackson are in line to handle the Chargers' Week 2 backfield duties.

Sep 19, 2021 12:10 PM EST

Odd man out in Week 1

Kelley (coach's decision) is a healthy scratch for Week 1 against Washington, Gilbert Manzano of The Orange County Register reports.

Analysis: Kelley was in line to potentially garner active status for the opener, but he'll be in street clothes with Austin Ekeler (hamstring) available. Kelley made 14 appearances for Los Angeles last season but will have to wait to make his 2021 debut, and his next chance to do so will come in Week 2 at home against the Cowboys.

Sep 12, 2021 9:35 AM EST

Unremarkable finish to preseason

Kelley rushed three times for two yards and brought in his only target for 12 yards in the Chargers' 27-0 preseason loss to the Seahawks on Saturday night.

Analysis: Still looking to shake Larry Rountree for the No. 3 running back job, Kelley didn't get much of an opportunity to make an impression Saturday. The second-year back saw Rountree take six carries for 27 yards, record two receptions and gain 33 yards on a pair of kickoff returns, so the pendulum could well have swung away from Kelley ahead of final cutdowns.

Aug 28, 2021 10:20 PM EST

Falling on depth chart

Kelley is listed behind both Justin Jackson and Larry Rountree on the team's first official depth chart release, Gilbert Manzano of The Orange County Register reports.

Analysis: It's a pretty jarring statement considering the Chargers drafted Kelley in the fourth round just one year ago, but it reflects what occurred towards the end of 2020 when the rookie was a healthy scratch in two of the final four games. Rountree has often been mentioned as a legitimate short-yardage threat giving the 2021 sixth-round pick a more defined role than Kelley, adding yet another strike against the latter's quest towards retaining a roster spot. At this point, Kelley might need an excellent preseason in order to claim a spot on the active roster, much less the coveted backup role behind stalwart Austin Ekeler.

Aug 9, 2021 7:09 PM EST

Roster spot not guaranteed

Kelley could be competing for the final running back spot with 2020 sixth-round pick Larry Rountree, Daniel Popper of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: The presumed hierarchy according to Popper would see Austin Ekeler handle most of the work out of the backfield with Justin Jackson set to fill in occasionally as a change-of-pace option. That would leave Kelley and Rountree in an ultra-utility capacity, but the recent sixth-round pick profiles a bit better as a goal-line threat, something the Chargers seemingly lack at the moment. Kelley was a major factor to begin his rookie season but dramatically tailed off towards the end of the year finishing as a healthy scratch in two of the final four games. Considering Rountree also has experience playing special teams throughout college, it's entirely possible Kelley may be on the outside looking in when it comes to the running-back depth chart.

May 21, 2021 10:32 AM EST

Uneven rookie season

Kelley, who was a healthy scratch in two of the final four games, finished his rookie season with 502 total yards and two touchdowns in 11 games.

Analysis: Kelley's fall from fantasy grace came precipitously as the 23-year-old saw 47 touches in his first three games as a complement to Austin Ekeler before yielding time to Justin Jackson and then Kalen Ballage as the season progressed. By the time Ekeler (quad) returned from his multi-month absence, Kelley had completely fallen out of the rotation in favor of Ballage despite the two having nearly indistinguishably bad yards-per-carry averages. The UCLA product might have more life now that the Chargers opted to move on from head coach Anthony Lynn, but the decision might be a double-edged sword as the offensive philosophy force fed snaps to each of the aforementioned names despite poor performances from most of the backs spelling Ekeler. The Chargers have the most invested in Kelley compared to Jackson and Ballage would should at least guarantee him a spot on the active roster next season. But without a more defined offensive approach for 2021, it's hard to guess if the 2020 fourth-round pick will be a depth piece like he was towards the end of his rookie season, or a crucial factor in the rotation like he was to start his career.

Jan 7, 2021 9:01 AM EST

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