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Chargers Training Camp Preview: Running Backs

The Los Angeles Chargers hold Mandatory Mini-Camp on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 at Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa, CA.
The Los Angeles Chargers hold Mandatory Mini-Camp on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 at Hoag Performance Center in Costa Mesa, CA.

Chargers Training Camp is on the horizon, as the Bolts will soon return to work to get ready for the 2022 season. The Chargers will host 10 open practices as they welcome fans back to Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa.

What's in store for the Bolts in camp? Second-year Head Coach Brandon Staley leads a roster focused on physicality that added numerous new faces this offseason, and the Bolts will use the coming weeks to sort out position battles and enhance their skills. will take a glance at each position group leading up to training camp, continuing with the running backs.

Who's on the roster?

Austin Ekeler (6th NFL season; 6th with Chargers), Joshua Kelley (3; 3), Larry Rountree III (2; 2), Isaiah Spiller (1; 1), Kevin Marks, Jr. (1: 1), Leddie Brown (1: 1), Gabe Nabers (3; 3) and Zander Horvath (1: 1).

Camp outlook

Ekeler is coming off the best season of his career after he tallied 911 rushing yards and 12 scores on the ground. He was once again an aerial threat, too, with 70 catches for 647 yards and eight scores.

His 20 total touchdowns tied for the league lead a year ago, and Ekeler will once again play a key role in the Bolts offense this season.

But the battle for playing time behind him will be among the most watched storylines of camp, as a handful of faces are vying for that role.

Kelley (33 carries for 102 yards) and Rountree (36 carries for 87 yards and TD) both saw minimal action in 2021 as each played in double-digit games. Both players could push for more playing time if they progress over the next few weeks in camp.

Spiller is a name to watch, as he was a fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M this spring. He rushed for 2,993 yards and 25 touchdowns (5.5 yards per carry) in college, and also added 74 receptions for 585 yards and a touchdown.

Marks and Brown were signed as undrafted free agents in the spring.

At fullback, Nabers returns after appearing in 10 games this past season. Horvath was a seventh-round pick this past spring after a productive career at Purdue.

Check out the best photos from the first day Chargers Mini-Camp 2022

Quick quote

"Let's go. I want these guys to come. I'm in the No. 1 spot right now. I want these guys to come challenge me. Like, let's go. Bring it. Come on. Come earn some reps. That's what I want it to be. That's how their mindset it. My mindset is that no one is going to be able to out-do me out here. I'm going to be the most efficient on the field. They're going to want me on the field all the time, but I want you to come and earn." — Ekeler on the competition behind him.

One big question… Who will be the No. 2 running back?

There is zero intrigue in identifying the Chargers' No. 1 running back. Austin Ekeler has solidified himself in that role as one of the NFL's top dual threats coming out of the backfield. But there is a load of mystery after that. Once again. The Chargers' search for a consistent complement to Ekeler now enters its third season and with another new contender. The team took Isaiah Spiller out of Texas A&M with its third selection (No. 123 overall) in April. He joins Joshua Kelley (No. 112 in 2020) and Larry Rountree III (No. 198 in 2021) as recent draft picks added in the hopes of sharing the load with Ekeler, who has genuinely begged for help the past two seasons. The now-departed Justin Jackson was the answer in short bursts at times, but he was unable to stay healthy. Training camp will be a very interesting time when it comes to observing how the reps are being distributed among the running backs. The Chargers would love to see one of those three guys clearly emerge. So would Ekeler. — (By Jeff Miller of the LA Times).

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