In need of a home run threat, Chargers should turn to Austin Ekeler

CARSON, Calif. -- One of the few bright spots for the Los Angeles Chargers in another late-game loss on Sunday was the play of undrafted rookie Austin Ekeler.

A surprise addition to the 53-man roster after flashing during preseason play, the Western State Colorado product has made plays for a struggling Chargers offense.

With limited touches, Ekeler has a 35-yard run for a touchdown -- the Chargers' longest run from scrimmage this season -- along with five catches for 47 yards.

The Chargers have struggled running the football through four games, averaging just 71 yards per game and 3.4 yards a carry.

A banged-up Melvin Gordon managed just 22 rushing yards on 10 carries in Sunday's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“We wanted to get him in the game and see what he could do, and he’s a productive runner,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said about Ekeler. “He was productive all preseason and it didn’t matter what group we put him in with -- he moved the chains.”

At 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, Ekeler has the ability to make defenders miss as a pass-catcher on the perimeter, but also the physicality to run between the tackles.

On his only carry of the game, Ekeler made one cut, darted through a crease in the defense and outran Philadelphia’s secondary for a 35-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, closing the Eagles’ lead to 19-17.

“It will be a moment I never forget,” Ekeler said. “It was my first touchdown. I was screaming and flexing as hard as I could. I was just so excited.

“We did come up short, so it kind of takes away from the moment, but it is something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Even though the Chargers have several playmakers on offense, including Gordon, Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry, they seem to be missing that home run hitter who can change the momentum of a game just by getting the ball in space -- like Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chargers have just three runs of 20-plus yards and no run of over 40 yards through four games.

Ekeler could be the guy who provides a home run threat for the Chargers.

“Obviously, we’ve got to score more points,” Ekeler said when asked about his team’s struggles on offense. “We were very inconsistent [Sunday]. We had moments where we showed our big-play capability, which we have. It’s just not consistent right now.”