Los Angeles Chargers tight end Austin Ekeler will miss Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings with an ankle injury, the team announced Friday afternoon. Here’s what you need to know:
- Ekeler left Los Angeles’ 36-34 Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins late in the fourth quarter with an injury after rushing for 117 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
- The 28-year-old linebacker did not practice in Week 2 and was ruled out of Sunday’s loss to the Giants.
- Ekeler did not practice in Week 3.
- Linebacker Eric Kendricks was also ruled out of Sunday’s game.
The athleteInstant C analysis:
Ekeler makes his way back
Ekeler showed some emerging optimism earlier in the week when he appeared on the practice field Wednesday during the open-to-the-media segment. He wasn’t on the field for any of three practices last week before the Chargers’ loss to the Titans. Ekeler did not participate in Wednesday’s practice, but wore a T-shirt and sneakers and watched individual drills while chatting with running backs coach Derek Foster. Ekeler did the same thing Thursday. But he wasn’t on the field Friday before the Chargers officially ruled him out after practice.
Ekeler was officially listed as questionable on Friday of last week, but the Chargers had already decided at that point that he would not make the trip to Nashville, as The athlete Reported for the first time. Ekeler has officially been downgraded to Saturday. This week, the Chargers decided to cut him on Friday. When asked if listing him as questionable for Week 2 and being out for Week 3 was an implication of Ekeler being down due to his ankle, coach Brandon Staley said: “There is no implication.”
“He’s working hard to get back,” Staley added. “We’ll see how things go here in the next few weeks.”
The Chargers’ rushing attack should bounce back in Minnesota
Joshua Kelly will be at the top for the second straight week. Kelly had 39 rushing yards on 13 carries last week against the Giants, who have one of the best fronts in football led by defensive tackle Jeffrey Simmons. Tennessee’s defense dominated the line of scrimmage in the game. The Vikings rank 31st in the league in defensive success rate on designed rushes, according to TruMedia, so they don’t present the same challenges Tennessee does.
There should be opportunities for offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s rushing attack to get back on track. The Chargers led the league in rushing in Week 1 against the Dolphins. Kelly had 91 yards on 16 carries in that game. With Ekeler out last week, rookie Elijah Dotson played nine snaps, and sophomore Isaiah Spiller played four snaps. Dotson appears to have the upper hand as the RB2 behind Kelley.
(Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
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