Who will claim backup running backs spots for Chargers in 2021?

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We are a little less than three weeks away until Chargers training camp begins, which marks the period that players will fight for spots on the 53-man roster.

Among the most intriguing positional battles lie in the backfield, where a few players will be auditioning for the spots behind RB Austin Ekeler, with those being Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley, Larry Rountree III and Darius Bradwell.

Jackson, who’s entering Year 4, has only played in 29 out of 48 regular season games. While he’s struggled to stay healthy, he’s been a good compliment to Ekeler, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

Jackson brings great vision and elusiveness coupled with pass-catching skills.

Kelley, the 2020 fourth-round pick, dealt with some growing pains last season. He experienced back-to-back fumbles early on in the season, which deteriorated his confidence when running the ball and on special teams.

Prior to that, Kelley was one of the most impressive players at training camp last year, showing out in all phases.

Rountree, the sixth-round pick, joins L.A. after being one of the most productive backs in the SEC the past three seasons at Missouri, having posted 3,720 yards and 40 touchdowns.

Rountree is an explosive runner who has good feet, contact balance, second-level vision and ball protection awareness, as well as passing game impact and special teams ability.

Bradwell, a former undrafted free agent, was one of Anthony Lynn’s guys, so he will really have to prove himself to the new coaches to earn a roster spot.

You can make the argument for Jackson getting cut because he has missed 19 games due to injuries. However, he’s arguably the team’s second-best back when healthy.

You can make the argument for Kelley getting cut based on his showing in his rookie campaign. However, he could make a major turn for the better in his sophomore season.

Given the fact that the new coaching staff used one of their draft picks on Rountree, I can’t see a scenario where he’s let go of unless he was to get hurt.

This will be one of the toughest decisions that the coaches will have to make, which could ultimately come down to who performs more optimally on special teams this summer.

My prediction is that it will be Ekeler, Jackson and Rountree, with Kelley resorting to the practice squad. But I wouldn’t be all that surprised if the team includes Kelley into the mix heading into the regular season.