Before the game on Sunday, Chargers running back Isaiah Spiller was listed as inactive in a somewhat surprising turn of events.
Head coach Brandon Staley put it relatively shortly at his Monday presser on why they made the move:
We just felt like he would be the best guy that would give us the best chance to beat the Dolphins.
While Staley didn’t expand much on the teams’ internal thought process, it feels like special teams had to be considered. Dotson factored in as the teams’ backup returner for stretches of the preseason behind wide receiver Derius Davis. If anything happened to Davis, it seems like the team valued Dotson’s ability to step in more than Spiller being the third or fourth back in the rotation.
Last year, special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken played Larry Rountree over Spiller for similar reasons. In a full running back room, Spiller’s special teams limitations have him drawing the short end of the stick.
Ekeler’s ankle injury will be something to monitor throughout the week. As of now, it’s too early to make any game projections without proper practice status reports. If Ekeler does sit out, Spiller would likely make his regular-season debut. If the former Western Colorado product is available, it will be a matter of what the team wants more against the Titans. Do they value the extra special teams support or another body in the running back room?
Assuming for a second that Ekeler is unavailable, it would be intriguing to see who has more of a role in the offense between the two backs above. Spiller has been in the system for longer, but Dotson did have highlight-level speed and burst in the preseason. It’s more food for thought for Kellen Moore’s run game as the Chargers enter Week 2.