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Chargers’ Austin Ekeler (hamstring) leaves game vs Buccaneers

Austin Ekeler, Chargers, Buccaneers

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler was forced to exit Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half with a left hamstring injury. He is questionable to return.

Ekeler was in a noticeably large amount of pain before heading to the Raymond James Stadium locker room.

The fourth-year running back has been the focal point of the Chargers offense so far in 2020, and has provided a steady rock for 21-year old rookie starting quarterback Justin Herbert — as a receiver as much as a runner.

Prior to Sunday, Ekeler had 47 carries for 236 yards and 16 receptions for 142 yards in 2020 with a perfect catch percentage. He tallied 11 receptions for 84 yards and 12 carries for 59 yards in the Chargers’ 16-21 Week 3 loss against the Carolina Panthers.

He’s picked up where he left off in 2019 for the Chargers, when he accrued 557 yards and three TDs on the ground, plus 92 receptions(!) for 993 yards and eight scores.

Ekeler had two carries for 12 yards and a two-yard reception for the Chargers before injuring his hamstring.

Losing Ekeler is certainly a blow for Anthony Lynn’s Chargers, though they do have another solid option in the backfield in Joshua Kelly. The 2020 fourth-round pick out of UCLA has 45 carries for 171 yards and a TD in 2020.

Justin Jackson could see some opportunities, too. In three seasons with the Chargers, Jackson has 81 carries for 410 yards.

Herbert didn’t seem to miss Ekeler’s presence, at least right away. Soon after Ekeler left the game, Herbert led the Chargers on a methodical, six-plus minute touchdown drive to take a 21-7 lead over the Buccaneers.

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