Chargers RB Austin Ekeler eager to build on first career touchdown
By Jack Wang
COSTA MESA — After three steps, Austin Ekeler knew he was getting to the end zone.
Early in the fourth quarter last Sunday, the Chargers called a trap play, sending their offensive linemen to the right. A half-second later, Ekeler cut back to his left. The Philadelphia defense was out of position, and the 5-foot-10 running back saw a clear path to the goal line, 35 yards away.
First career carry, first career touchdown.
“It didn’t end up going the way we planned as far as blocking scheme,” Ekeler said. “But you know, running back, it’s the most instinctive position. You’ve got to react to things when things go bad, and make something happen.”
He did. And this Sunday at MetLife Stadium, he will face the Giants (10 a.m. PT, Ch. 9) as the Chargers’ No. 2 tailback. Not bad for an undrafted rookie out of Western State.
Ekeler’s touchdown was one of the bright spots in the Chargers’ 26-24 loss to the Eagles — and another reminder that, every year, NFL talent evaluators miss on talent. Buried on the depth chart at the start of training camp, the 22-year-old gradually climbed up the ladder. He flashed his skills in space, totaling 108 yards from scrimmage in a preseason finale against the 49ers.
But since the regular season started, Ekeler has only gotten 12 offensive snaps. That should change at the Meadowlands this weekend. The Chargers (0-4) ruled out Branden Oliver with a hamstring injury on Friday, giving Ekeler a chance as Melvin Gordon’s primary backup.