Chargers' Austin Ekeler Placed on Injured Reserve with Hamstring Injury

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2020

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Jason Behnken/Associated Press

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler will miss at least three weeks because of a hamstring injury. 

The Chargers announced Friday that Ekeler has been placed on injured reserve and Tyron Johnson was promoted to the 53-man roster from the practice squad. Former Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage was signed to their practice squad. 

Ekeler was forced to exit the Chargers' Week 4 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and ESPN's Adam Schefter subsequently reported he had suffered a hamstring injury and a hyperextended knee that would keep him out for four to six weeks.

Los Angeles let Melvin Gordon III leave as a free agent in the offseason, thus widening Ekeler's role in the offense. He responded by running for 248 yards and one touchdown through four games prior to getting hurt.

The 25-year-old's absence has made rookie Joshua Kelley the primary ball-carrier out of the Chargers backfield. The fourth-round draft pick has 174 rushing yards and one score while averaging 3.3 yards per carry. That last number points to the fact that he hasn't exactly been effective in the role, and the UC Davis product can't match Ekeler as a pass-catcher.

Justin Herbert has done well after replacing Tyrod Taylor, but the absence of a consistent running game could put a lot of pressure on the rookie quarterback.