Melvin Gordon fallout: Chargers reveal plan at running back for 2019 as the holdout continues into Week 1
Without their lead back, the Chargers are set to split work between Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson
Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn confirmed as much on Wednesday, according to ESPN's Eric D. Williams, saying he's planned all along to split carries between Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, the No. 2 and No. 3 RBs on the depth chart behind Gordon.
"I've always used those guys as a tandem," Lynn said. "That's not going to change. We're going to put guys in good positions to do what they do best."
A two-time Pro Bowler who has yet to report to the team in pursuit of a trade or new contract, Gordon has been the clear-cut lead ball-carrier when on the field. But Ekeler, in particular, has also maintained a sizable role out of the backfield since 2017. Undrafted out of Western Colorado University that year, the reserve and special-teamer had more than 950 yards from scrimmage in 2018, catching 39 passes and averaging 5.2 yards per carry in relief of Gordon. Through two seasons in the NFL, with just three starts to his name, Ekeler has already racked up more than 1,400 total yards and 11 touchdowns.
Behind Ekeler, former seventh-round draft pick Justin Jackson figures to see an uptick in playing time as the de facto No. 2. Promoted from the practice squad in late September 2018, the Northwestern product finished his rookie season with 50 carries, filling in for an injured Gordon at one point and drawing rave reviews from teammates entering 2019.
"He's definitely an elite back," defensive end Melvin Ingram said of Jackson, per Williams. "His vision, you can't coach what he has."
Rounding out the Week 1 running back depth chart is 25-year-old journeyman Troymaine Pope, who initially joined the Chargers' scout team in November 2018 and has just 12 career carries in four games.
The Chargers have allowed Gordon's representatives to seek a trade, and so far,. Unfortunately for Gordon, and for the Chargers, a deal does not seem imminent at this time. For now, the Chargers will move forward with a committee approach for the 2019 regular season.
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