Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Commanders’ Austin Ekeler says he ‘represents the underdogs,’ is ready to prove himself on new team

Austin Ekeler is in new territory for the 2024 season as he enters his first year in the NFL wearing a jersey other than the Chargers. The 28-year-old was with the Chargers from 2017 to 2023 and found a new home in the Washington Commanders this free agency, signing to a two-year contract.

With this fresh start, Ekeler is motivated and says being on the Commanders “energizes” him. 

“I’ve had everything to prove every single year,” Ekeler said (via ESPN.com). 

Ekeler says he has felt like the underdog his entire career and rather than take it as a negative, he turns it into motivation. 

“It’s what has given me energy for as long as I’ve been in the league,” Ekeler said. “I 100% represent the underdogs out there. I’ll continue to be that representation.”

The veteran predicts many trips to the end zone next season, saying he can add “a lot” to the team.

“I’m going to score some touchdowns for you, that’s for sure,” Ekeler said. “I’m going to bring some energy.”

Ekeler played in 16 games in his first season with the Chargers, finishing with 47 rushes for 260 yards and two rushing touchdowns. He worked to become an asset to the offense and had one of his best seasons in 2022, with career highs in games started (17), rushing yards (915), rushing touchdowns (13) and receptions (107).

Last season, he played in and started 14 games, missing three due to an ankle injury, finishing with 179 rushing attempts for 628 yards and a career low of 3.5 average yards per carry. He had five rushing touchdowns, 51 receptions for 436 yards and one touchdown in the air. He had career highs in fumbles (five) and fumbles lost (four).

Ekeler acknowledged that in the “business of sports, you’re gonna go through ups and downs.”

“There’s so much that goes into the ecosystem of sports, and you’re always trying to be the most competitive that you can possibly be and trying to sustain that for as long as you can, but unfortunately, as we even experienced last year with the Chargers, going through some down years,” he said (via NFL.com). “So you try to bring in a new chemistry, new players to try to turn it around, and that’s exactly what we have going on here. So I’m excited to do it.”

Ekeler will be reuniting with his former Chargers’ coach Anthony Lynn, who is now the Commanders’ run game coordinator and running backs coach. He had high praise for Lynn, who he calls an “absolute guru.”

“… just being back in a room with him I know will definitely keep me focused, keep me locked in and give me the best opportunity to push myself as a player,” Ekeler said of being with Lynn. “And so that was the opportunity and the environment I wanted to be in.”

The running back room in Washington will also include Brian Robinson, who will likely take on a lot of the run game. Ekeler said he appreciated having another player to take some of the work load. 

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