On Tuesday, star running back Austin Ekeler told reporters that he is "99% sure" that he will make his return to the field on Monday night when Los Angeles hosts the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6. The veteran said he was a full participant at practice, a great sign for his availability this week.
Ekeler has been sidelined since the season-opening loss to Miami when he suffered an ankle injury. Before suffering that injury, the 28-year-old back had been enjoying a dominant showing, rushing for 117 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown while catching four passes for 47 yards.
In his absence, the Chargers running game has largely struggled. After totaling 233 yards on the ground in the opener with Ekeler, the Chargers totaled 61 and 30 total rushing yards in each of their next two games. While they did log 155 yards on the ground in Week 4 before the bye, that was large in part due to a 51-yard rush by wide receiver Derius Davis.
Joshua Kelley, who has dominated the carries out of the backfield in Ekeler's absence, has averaged just 2.83 yards per carry through his three starts and has caught just one pass out for five yards.
Getting Ekeler back in the fold will be a major uptick for the Chargers offense after starting the year 2-2. He also gets a somewhat favorable matchup in his potential return with the Cowboys allowing 4.5 yards per carry so far this season.
Getting back onto the field is also pivotal for Ekeler financially as he is in the final year of his contract and is facing unrestricted free agency this offseason. Ekeler has spent his entire career with the Chargers and has blossomed into one of the best dual-threat backs in the NFL. Over the last two seasons, he's led the league in total touchdowns from scrimmage and has registered at least 1,500 yards from scrimmage over that same stretch.