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How Joshua Kelley & Isaiah Spiller Are Pushing Each Other for Playing Time


Below are three takeaways from Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore, running back Joshua Kelley and running back Isaiah Spiller's media availability on Tuesday:

A look at the RB2 battle

With the third and final preseason game coming later this week, the Bolts have one more opportunity to see the run game in a live game before the start of the regular season.

And one of the key storylines throughout training camp has been about the second running back spot behind Austin Ekeler, as Joshua Kelley and Isaiah Spiller continue to split the work and getting ample opportunities to showcase themselves.

Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore wants to continue to give the running backs these opportunities as both will be used throughout a long season in their own way.

"I think, ultimately, you'll utilize all of those guys," Moore said. "I think that anyone that is on the active [roster] in the running back room, you're going to want to utilize all of those different guys.

"I think that Austin [Ekeler] is going to, obviously, carry a lot of it, but at different parts, we will want to utilize those guys, just to alleviate Austin for some of the workload," Moore added. "We'll just see how it all plays out. That will be through the season, I think, by gameplan."

Both Kelley and Spiller provide something different for the Bolts, and Moore believes it's important to use both at what they're best at.

"Just continue to give those guys opportunities," Moore said. "I think that both of them have different roles that we will certainly want to utilize. [Elijah] Dotson has popped in there and had some opportunities, as well.

"We're just continuing to give those guys as much opportunity and exposure as we can and, certainly, find those different roles," Moore added.

Browse through live action photos of the Bolts Preseason Week 2 matchup against the Saints at SoFi Stadium.

Kelley, who was the Chargers second running back last season, has seen his fair share of action in practices and in the games thus far. The fourth-year running back shined in the first preseason game, rushing nine times for 54 yards.

And he's also enjoyed Moore's new offense, as he believes it has fit his style of running and to his strengths.

"It's been good. It's really good," Kelley said. "This new offense, I really like it. I really like it, man. We're building it in right now, obviously. It's been a lot of fun.

Kelley later added: "I really like how downhill it is, man. I think that really fits my style. One cut, just get downhill. A lot of our outside zone, perimeter runs are just one cut. Just be decisive. That's kind of my strength as a runner. It's pretty cool, man. I feel like guys really like it, as well."

Having been behind Ekeler his whole career, Kelley knows what ways he can compliment the Bolts' lead back.

And with the differing skills sets up and down the running back room, Kelley is confident that they can surprise some people — but will let the play do the talking.

"I've been with Austin for four years now," Kelley said. "I know what Austin is good at. I know how I complement him.

Kelley continued: "Spiller, he's doing really well. Like this guy is coming in, he's improving. He's doing better. He's running more confidently, which is great. I'm excited for him, man.

"Honestly, I feel like this room, in a way, we're really under looked in there," Kelley added. "I feel like we have some guys. This year, we have to show it, though. We can talk about it, but we have to show it."

Spiller, on the other hand, is enjoying and taking advantage of his first full training camp and preseason.

The second-year running back suffered an ankle injury during the second preseason game of his rookie year that ended his camp. Now back with a year of NFL experience under his belt, the 2022 fourth-round pick has seen valuable game reps this preseason.

Spiller has run the ball 10 times for 54 yards so far through two preseason appearances, as he's enjoyed getting these in-game reps that are highly beneficial for his growth as a player.

"They've been very valuable to me," Spiller said. "Getting comfortable playing out there more, especially before the season. Focusing on that, the details, what I need to look at on the run and in pass protections and knowing my routes.

"Being attentive to details this year has been really important and I think the preseason games have helped me," Spiller added.

All in all, the running back room continues to be a tight-knit group entering another season.

And while the competition has been at a high-level, Spiller believes it is to the benefit of everyone in the room.

"Bonding with those guys every day, cracking jokes every now and then," Spiller said. "We're always locked in, always on the details, trying to finish and put out our best.

"We go out there and compete against each other and try to make each other better every day," Spiller added. "I think it's been going well for us."

More work to be done

The Bolts shifted their training camp back to Hoag Performance Center on Tuesday, as only one more practice remains in training camp.

But even with the final preseason and the end of training camp on the horizon, the Bolts still have 19 days between now and when Week 1 kicks off.

This period of time is crucial, especially for the starters who are unlikely to see any preseason action before the start of the season.

On offense, the focus for the first team is a little bit different as the season inches closer.

It's a time where the unit continues to tweak some things, and Moore noted that there are some small things left to finalize before the full attention moves towards Week 1.

"A combination of scheme, and then preparing yourself for the regular season," Moore said. "As we kind of start shifting gears here, coming back to the facility full-time now, it starts feeling a little bit more like you're heading toward the regular season.

"I think that we're finalizing some of the conceptual stuff, just to make sure that we're all ready to roll," Moore added. "Then, all eyes are on the regular season."

The Chargers offense has still gotten some high-level work going against their defense all camp, as the back-and-forth battles have beneifted both sides.

And as the countdown to the season continues, Moore looks to tighten up the offense day by day.

"I think that a big emphasis for us, at this point, is that a lot of it is in, but now we have to tighten it up and be cleaner and play a more efficient game. That's the big emphasis right now," Moore said.

Check out the best shots from the Chargers Preseason Week 2 game against the Saints at SoFi Stadium

Moore assesses Stick, offense vs. Saints

There was some good and some bad from Easton Stick and the offense Sunday night against New Orleans.

Moore said that group has already learned some lessons from the outing, too.

"Like any preseason game, there are some ups and there are some downs," Moore said. "Obviously, we weren't as efficient on offense as we wanted to be. I thought Easton's legs came alive.

"He had some really good situational stuff with the 2-minute before the half, and at the end of the game when we were able to get the one [touchdown] before the last one [drive]," Moore added. "Obviously, for all of us, it wasn't a performance that was ideal for us. Really, it just came down to being consistent and efficient, and just playing a clean game."

Stick led a touchdown drive before the half in which he kept the ball on the ground for a 6-yard score.

He later found the end zone on a QB sneak to pull the Bolts within five points, but a final 2-minute drill came up short.

Stick completed 21 of 41 passes for 233 yards with two interceptions and a fumble lost.

"I think that it is just all part of the process," Moore said of Stick. "Seeing different coverages, I think that's always valuable.

"Each week presents different challenges, being able to get to those," Moore added. "I thought that he had some good moments. For all of us, we just weren't as consistent."

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