The Los Angeles Chargers will face the Tennessee Titans this Sunday without their best offensive player in running back Austin Ekeler. The one-man army out of the backfield will be missed dearly, but the team is confident they can replace some of his production due to the presence of Joshua Kelley.
Kelley, Ekeler’s backup, was outstanding in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. He ran for 91 yards on 16 carries and punched in a two-yard touchdown on the ground. That performance has given Chargers offensive coordinator Kellen Moore plenty of confidence in Kelley as the starter in Week 2.
Just a big-time professional. Obviously, we see the production on the field, but I think he prepares really, really well. He’s a great teammate to everyone. He knows his role. He embraces his role. When he gets those opportunities to take advantage of some chances there, he certainly takes advantage of them.
Having the faith of the coaching staff is key for Kelley, especially with Moore coming in as the offensive coordinator this offseason.
A new Joshua Kelley
Kelley’s NFL career didn’t get off to the best start. Through his first two seasons, Kelley averaged 3.17 yards per carry while getting outplayed by fellow backup Justin Jackson.
But in 2022, Kelley began showing signs of life. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry and a 56% rushing success rate, as well as 7.2 yards per reception. His performance led to Sony Michel being made inactive during the second half of the season and 4th round rookie Isaiah Spiller couldn’t carve out a role due to Kelley’s presence.
Kelley got his mojo back towards the end of the 2022 season and has carried it over into 2023. The Titans sport an elite run defense, but Week 2 will be a huge opportunity for Kelley to showcase he can handle a full workload and perform like a top running back.
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