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Three Takeaways: Joshua Kelley & Larry Rountree III Provide Update on Backup Running Back Competition 

Joshua Kelley FTP

Below are three takeaways from podium sessions on the 13th day of Chargers Training Camp:

*Running backs embracing RB2 competition *

The Bolts released their first unofficial depth chart Tuesday, with Austin Ekeler leading the way in the running back room. He was followed by Joshua Kelley, Larry Rountree III and rookie running back Isaiah Spiller to round out the top four running backs on the roster.

Saturday's preseason game provides the perfect opportunity for the young running backs to prove themselves not only in the backfield, but on special teams as well. Both Kelley and Rountree III talked about how the competition for the second running back spot is elevating everybody's game in that room.

"I love it," Kelley said. "For us, as competitors, honesty and truth is how you get better and how you know where you stand. [The coaches] made it clear Day 1. [They were] like, 'Look, this is a competition.' For me, as a competitor, I love it.

"I like to challenge myself. I like to try to prove myself. He's made it clear and I'm just trying to embrace it. I'm not worried, necessarily, about the end right now,' Kelley added. "I'm just worrying about how I get better. Preseason, attacking that, that stuff will take care of itself. You have to embrace it to be competitive, for sure."

As Rountree enters his second season in the NFL, he explained he's been able to get 'dialed in' on both offense and special teams. Rountree echoed the message shared by Kelley and welcomed the competition with the addition of Chargers fourth-round draft pick in Spiller. Rountree explained how the competition has allowed each running back be the 'best version' of themselves.

"We all know the qualities that we have within ourselves. All of us play different," Rountree said. "Austin doesn't play like J.K., and J.K. doesn't play like me. Isaiah doesn't play like us. We all don't play like each other.

"We all have different qualities that we bring to the room, so it's more so of, every day, we help each other out," Rountree added. "We say, 'You be the best version of you and go out here and play ball.' But it's never, I would say, pressure because every day we come in, we go to work and we help each other."

Kelley feels 'bigger, faster, stronger' heading into 2022

Heading into his third season in the NFL, Kelley made it a point during the offseason to 'become the best football player [he] could possibly be' heading into 2022.

Kelley explained on Thursday that he didn't look for a vacation or personal time this offseason, but used every moment possible to become a faster and stronger athlete.

"It wasn't to relax, to wind down, to do all sorts of business activities, vacation," Kelley said. "It was to become the best player I could be for this year. I evaluated myself. I looked at my strengths and weaknesses.

"I felt like I could put on some more muscle and some more explosiveness, so I took the program I had seriously and just attacked it," Kelley added. "Nutrition was huge. You don't get this size and this strong without being on nutrition, on top of your recovery. It was a lot of work."

With the help of a program sent to Kelley by the trainers at Overtime Athletes, the third-year running back has put on noticeable size and strength from last season. Kelley described how the added muscle has translated to his game at camp so far.

"It's been a huge transition," Kelley said. "For me, I'm just like, 'Boom, more explosive, faster, stronger.' It's a big difference.

"There's a correlation between the weight room, nutrition, and to the field — injuries, all of that stuff — there's a correlation to it. It feels good. They got me right. I'm still going, still attacking that program. It doesn't stop," Kelley added.

Whether Kelley gets 'four or 50 reps' during Saturday's game, he spoke on what he's most excited about when talking about suiting up at SoFi Stadium in just two days.

"I'm really excited about [the contact]. We do tag-off, we do hitting against my teammates all the time, but we actually get to go against another team," Kelley said. "You don't get to hold back, you get to actually let loose…I'm excited about it. It's an opportunity that you have to take advantage of."

Staley's philosophy for the preseason opener

The Chargers held a light practice Thursday morning as the team prepares for their preseason opener Saturday night against the Los Angeles Rams.

Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley explained after practice that he's going to be looking at 'every single position group' during Saturday's game, and noted what he's excited about when it comes to evaluating players during the preseason opener.

"Now, you get to take the field together as a team," Staley said. "I'm looking forward to seeing all three phases feed off of each other and play the game that we expect to play. Take the field the right way. Then, you're always going to be looking for those players who are going to perform.

"I think you see what's happening on a practice field or in a scrimmage, but now you get to see them play in a real football game," Staley added. "That's always exciting for a coach and as a team to see your team take shape for this year, and this is our first chance at it."

Staley also gave some insight into the process behind deciding which players will see game action on Saturday, plus his objective when it comes to evaluating players during the preseason.

"We really want to take the preseason from the game's perspective and try and evaluate people that we feel like are really establishing themselves for a certain role," he said. "Or there's a part of a competition that we really need to see sort of express itself. That's really what we want out of the preseason."

"We really want to make sure that we take advantage of these games to get the right evaluation of these guys, and then the units within our football team heading in towards the regular season."

One of the position competitions at camp so far is the battle for the starting right tackle spot between Storm Norton and Trey Pipkins III. Staley gave an updated on if the two tackles will take the field Saturday.

"Yeah, I think you'll definitely be able to see both of those guys," Staley said.

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