Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler will not play in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings due to an ankle injury, according to an announcement from the team on Friday. Ekeler sustained the injury during the fourth quarter of L.A.’s Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins, after rushing for 117 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Since the injury, Ekeler has not participated in practices and was ruled out for last Sunday’s game against the Titans. The 28-year-old running back also did not practice this week, ultimately leading to the official announcement of his absence on Friday.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks has also been ruled out of Sunday’s game, further complicating the Chargers’ situation.
Despite Ekeler’s absence, there is some hope for his return as he made an appearance on the practice field earlier in the week. Although he did not participate in practice, Ekeler was seen observing drills and engaging in conversations with running backs coach Derrick Foster. However, his progress has been slow, and the Chargers decided to officially rule him out after Friday’s practice.
Last week, Ekeler was listed as doubtful, but it was already determined that he would not travel with the team to Nashville. He was then downgraded to out on Saturday. This week, the Chargers made the decision to rule him out on Friday. When asked about Ekeler’s status, coach Brandon Staley stated that there is no implication of a setback and that Ekeler is working hard to get back on the field.
In Ekeler’s absence, Joshua Kelley will once again take on the role of lead back. Kelley had 39 rushing yards on 13 carries in last week’s game against the Titans. This week, facing the Vikings, who have struggled defensively against designed rushes, the Chargers’ rushing attack should have an opportunity to bounce back. In Week 1, the Chargers led the league in rushing against the Dolphins, with Kelley recording 91 yards on 16 carries. Rookie Elijah Dotson and second-year back Isaiah Spiller also saw some playing time last week in Ekeler’s absence, with Dotson appearing to be the frontrunner as RB2 behind Kelley.
As the game approaches, the Chargers will have to rely on their running backs to step up and fill the void left by Ekeler’s absence. Their success on the ground will be crucial in securing a victory against the Vikings.
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