Among the most intriguing positional battles lies in the backfield, where there will be an audition for the spots behind RB Austin Ekeler, who will be a key piece in Joe Lombardi’s system with his multi-dimensional skillset.

Those candidates vying for the jobs are Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley, rookie Larry Rountree III and Darius Bradwell.

Jackson, who’s entering Year 4, has only played in 29 out of 48 regular season games. While he’s struggled to stay healthy, he’s been a good compliment to Ekeler, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

When he’s on the field, Jackson brings great vision and elusiveness coupled with pass-catching skills. Another thing to note is that Jackson is entering the final year of his contract.

Kelley, the 2020 fourth-round pick, dealt with growing pains last season. He experienced back-to-back fumbles early on in the season, which deteriorated his confidence when running the ball and on special teams.

Prior to that, Kelley was one of the most impressive players at training camp last year.

Rountree, the sixth-round pick, joins L.A. after proving himself as one of the most productive backs in the SEC the last three seasons at Missouri, having posted 3,720 yards and 40 touchdowns.

Bradwell, a former undrafted free agent, was one of former head coach Anthony Lynn’s guys, so he will really have to prove himself to the new coaches to earn a roster spot.

You can make the argument for Jackson getting cut because he has missed 19 games due to injuries. However, he’s arguably the team’s second-best back when healthy.

You can make the argument for Kelley getting cut based on his showing in his rookie campaign. However, he could make a major turn for the better in his sophomore season.

Given the fact that the new coaching staff used one of their draft picks on Rountree, I can’t see a scenario where he’s let go of unless he was to get hurt this summer, and that alone may give him a slight advantage over Jackson and Kelley.

With very little experience and having a crowd of guys ahead of him, Bradwell is the one who will likely be on the outside looking in.

This will be one of the toughest decisions that the coaches will have to make, which could ultimately come down to who shines on special teams, an area that will be pivotal in 2021.

My prediction is that the team decides to head into the season with four backs; Ekeler, Jackson, Kelley and Rountree.

As for who finishes second in carries to Ekeler this season, I believe Rountree does. In Year 1, he has to skillset profiles well to grow into be a well-rounded back that can contribute on multiple downs.

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