Austin Ekeler
(Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

Austin Ekeler has left the game in Tampa after suffering an injury to his left hamstring. He has been listed as questionable to return, but given that he did not leave the field under his own power, it would be surprising if he could return against the Buccaneers.

After almost wholly carrying Ekeler off the field, the Chargers trainers continued to work on him before carting him off to the locker room.

However, a somewhat encouraging sign comes from the speculation of Dr. David Chao, who has been the team’s doctor for 17 years. Chao does not believe that this injury will force Ekeler to miss the rest of the season, but he added that it does seem as though this is a significant hamstring tear or strain.

Since going undrafted in 2017 out of Western Colorado, Ekeler has been a tremendous asset to a Chargers offense that lacks many options. While he has never been a traditionally dominant runner, Ekeler sees most of his production come in the passing game, recording a total of 158 catches for 1676 yards and 14 touchdowns in his three seasons, 993 of which were in 2019 alone. Austin Ekeler has been proven himself as a premier pass-catching running back, and the dynamic young player has been great since he entered the league.

In Ekeler’s absence, Joshua Kelley is most likely to be LA’s feature-back. Despite being used as a backup, Kelley has been given a significant amount of touches in his first three weeks, including 25 in the Chargers Week 2 matchup against Kansas City. After being picked in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Chargers have shown that they are thrilled with him by the number of touches they give him.

It seems as though Ekeler will return this season, but hamstring injuries can be extremely temperamental, so expect Kelley to be the guy for the foreseeable future.

More to come.