Justin Jackson (RB)

Cardinals Work Out RB Justin Jackson, CB Josh Jackson

Among the players currently with the Cardinals on a tryout basis are a pair who share the same last name. Running back Justin Jackson and cornerback Josh Jackson have been in Arizona during the team’s minicamp, as noted by team reporter Darren Urban (Twitter link). 

The former was a seventh-round pick of the Chargers in 2018. His workload remained consistent throughout his time there, never averaging more than six carries per game. Not surprisingly, his rushing totals remained almost identical for his first three seasons, though he had a career-year in 2021.

Playing in 14 games last year, the Northwestern alum totalled 364 rushing yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry along the way. He added 187 yards in the passing game, to give him a new mark in scrimmage yards (542 yards). That wasn’t enough to earn him a second contract from Los Angeles, however; the team still has Joshua Kelly as a backup to Austin Ekelerand drafted Isaiah Spiller in the fourth round this year.

In Arizona, Jackson would join a backfield which lost Chase Edmonds in free agency, but still includes 2021 starter James Conner. The Cardinals have also signed Darrell Williams and added Keaontay Ingram in the draft, so Jackson would again face healthy competition for carries.

As for the other Jackson, who was also a 2018 draftee, a deal with Arizona would lead him to his fourth career team. A second round pick of the Packers, he played in Green Bay for the first three seasons of his NFL tenure, totalling 86 tackles and 12 passes defensed. Last August, he was traded to the Giants for fellow corner Isaac Yiadom.

The Iowa product didn’t see any playing time in New York, however, and was ultimately waived in October. He was quickly signed onto Kanas City’s practice squad, and ended up making two appearances with the Chiefs. Like his namesake, Jackson could find a depth role on the Cardinals’ roster to fill out their CB room.

Chargers Place Justin Jackson On IR

Justin Jackson will join Austin Ekeler on the Chargers’ injured reserve list. The Bolts placed Jackson on IR Saturday and promoted Kalen Ballage from their practice squad.

A knee injury will sideline Jackson and continue to change the Chargers’ backfield plans. Ballage played extensively last week after Jackson went down early. He, Joshua Kelley and Troymaine Pope will be Los Angeles’ running backs in Miami.

Ekeler remains on the Bolts’ IR because of a severe hamstring injury. No rumors have surfaced indicating his return is near. A 2018 seventh-round pick out of Northwestern, Jackson stepped in to replace Ekeler alongside Kelley and has averaged 4.1 yards per carry in his third NFL season.

Ballage gained 69 yards on 15 carries last week, doing so after Jackson went down and while Pope was out due to a concussion. Pope practiced fully throughout this week. The Bolts signed Ballage after the Jets waived him earlier this year. This will mark a return trip to Miami for Ballage, a Dolphins fourth-round pick in 2018. Ballage largely struggled with Miami, and the team ended up cutting him after an attempt to trade him failed this summer.

Chargers Work Out RB Bilal Powell

Longtime Jets running back Bilal Powell made a trip to Los Angeles on Tuesday. The Chargers worked out the veteran, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

The Bolts also auditioned younger backs as well, with Tom Pelissero of NFL.com noting Jordan Scarlett and Brian Herrien took part in the Tuesday running back workout (Twitter link). Ex-Chargers running back Troymaine Pope also participated in the audition, per the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter).

Powell re-signed with the Jets in 2019, doing so after suffering a severe injury in 2018. The nine-year veteran has resided in free agency since March. The Chargers, however, have a potential opening at this position. Justin Jackson is dealing with a quadriceps injury.

Chargers HC Anthony Lynn was the Jets’ running backs coach during Powell’s first five years with the team. Powell, 31, mostly served as a complementary back in New York but played with the Jets from 2011-19. He submitted three seasons with 900-plus yards from scrimmage from 2013-17. Powell played in 13 Jets games last season, totaling 262 scrimmage yards.

The Panthers drafted Scarlett in the 2019 fifth round out of Florida, while Herrien went to training camp with the Browns this year. A veteran UDFA who made his NFL debut in 2016, Pope played 14 games with the Bolts last year.

The Chargers have Austin Ekeler entrenched as their starter, and fourth-round rookie Josh Kelly rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals in Week 1.

Melvin Gordon Week 4 Debut Possible

After initially being slated to return to game action in Week 5, Melvin Gordon could get a head-start. The Chargers’ injury situation may move their back-in-the-fold Pro Bowler into action Sunday in Miami.

Anthony Lynn said Gordon could play in a limited capacity against the Dolphins, Eric Williams of ESPN.com tweets. This comes after the 26-year-old back ended his holdout Wednesday. Gordon, however, was to be held out for a week.

Justin Jackson is out with a strained calf, leaving Austin Ekeler and Troymaine Pope as the only running backs currently on Los Angeles’ 53-man roster. Gordon will need to be activated by the Saturday-afternoon deadline in order to play, but the Bolts will do so, it appears. The two-time Pro Bowl back will travel with the team to Miami.

Lynn said earlier this week Gordon will reclaim his starting job upon returning. That would stand to be the case in Week 5, likely with Ekeler retaining a major role in the Bolts’ offense, but the duo’s roles could be reverse in this in-case-of-emergency situation Sunday.

Gordon finished last season with 1,375 yards from scrimmage in 12 games. He will be a major boost to a Chargers team that’s dropped to 1-2.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/24/18

Here are Monday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals 

  • Claimed off waivers from the Browns: DE Ifeadi Odenigbo
  • Released: DE Jacquies Smith

Baltimore Ravens

Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Chargers

Chargers Sign Five Draft Picks

First-round safety Derwin James is now the only Chargers 2018 draft pick without a contract, as Los Angeles announced that the following selection have signed their rookie deals:

Third-round defensive tackle Justin Jones is also under contract, leaving James as the sole holdout. NFL rookie deals are now a breeze to negotiate thanks to the league’s most recent collective bargaining agreement, but James will likely sign his deal soon. First-rounders are often able to push for certain contractual issues, such as timing of bonus payments, but James is participating in the Chargers’ rookie minicamp even without a pact.

Most of the players signed by Los Angeles today will likely need to make their rookie mark on special teams duty, but Nwosu could have a chance at playing time in 2018. Although largely an edge rusher at USC, Nwosu probably won’t see much time as a pass-rusher given that the Chargers already employ Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. But the 6’2″, 240-pounder could find a role as a inside ‘backer, an area of weakness for the Bolts.