Austin Ekeler says Philip Rivers will be missed with Chargers, supports Tyrod Taylor as new quarterback

The Los Angeles Chargers are ushering in a new era for the franchise, entering a new stadium in 2020 and saying goodbye to Philip Rivers after 16 seasons (14 as the team's starting quarterback). While the Chargers are in a transition, one of the cornerstones for the franchise is Austin Ekeler, who signed a four-year deal this offseason. 

The Chargers have moved on from the longtime franchise cornerstone in Rivers, who signed a one-year deal with the Colts, and Ekeler vows his leadership will be missed in their locker room. 

"I just love Philip. I'm going to miss him so much," Ekeler said with Zach Gelb on CBS Sports Radio Friday. "He made my career transition from college to the pros way easier than probably a lot of rookies coming in -- just because he took charge out there. He knows how everything is supposed to be done. He knows the defenses, he knows the checks. It was just easier to communicate with him because he was so confident in what he was doing and would get you in the right spot and help you if you didn't know. 

"It's definitely going to be a struggle in trying to replace that leadership. I don't think you really can unless you get a guy that's been able to do it like that ... I'm definitely going to miss him."

The Chargers will apparently move forward with Tyrod Taylor, who they signed to a two-year deal last season, as their quarterback. Taylor has starting experience in the NFL, going 23-21-1 with the Bills and Browns, completing 61.6% of his passes while throwing for 9,562 yards, 54 touchdowns and 20 interceptions (89.8 passer rating) in 70 career games.

Ekeler would entertain the possibility of Cam Newton or Jameis Winston as the Chargers' quarterback, but he supports Taylor as the man to lead the offense. 

"He's just one of the smarter players in the league, I feel like," Ekeler said. "This man was literally the first one in the locker room every day. Like every morning, you see Tyrod's there before everyone else. Maybe he's just a freak morning person, but he's super-dedicated to the game. Even taking a backup role last year behind Philip, Tyrod was still in the game, and that's what I think is gonna give us a chance. 

"He is dedicated, he's super-athletic, he makes smart decisions, and he started for a few teams so he has that experience, and so that leadership comes with that too. And we have a lot of playmakers around him to make his job a little bit easier, so I think we can get it done."

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