LOS ANGELES — Chargers running back Austin Ekeler did not practice for the second straight day Friday and is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Patriots.
Ekeler was a full participant Wednesday but popped up on the practice report Thursday with a hip injury. The Chargers are coming off their bye week.
“He felt a little bit of soreness in his hip [Wednesday],” coach Brandon Staley said Friday. “He felt much better the last two days. We’re hopeful that he can play.”
Staley emphasized that Ekeler practiced well Wednesday.
“This guy was flying,” said Staley. “He looked incredible. All of his speeds, his workload, just amazing. He had an awesome practice and stayed after practice with [quarterback] Justin [Herbert].”
The only other practices Ekeler has missed this season came in Week 1, when he did not participate for two days because of a hamstring issue. He was listed as questionable for the season opener against Kansas City but ended up playing.
In six games, Ekeler has rushed for 356 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He also has caught 27 passes for 242 yards and three scores.
The Chargers have Joshua Kelley, Justin Jackson, and Larry Rountree III available if Ekeler cannot go.
For the Patriots, 14 players are listed as questionable. Only linebacker Brandon King has been ruled out with a thigh injury. King has been on the field for 80.6 percent of New England’s special teams snaps this season.
The full list of questionable players: center David Andrews (ankle), linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (ribs), wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (shoulder), defensive tackle Carl Davis (hand), safety Kyle Dugger (neck), kicker Nick Folk (left knee), nose tackle Davon Godchaux (finger), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (ankle), guard Shaq Mason (abdomen), tight end Jonnu Smith (shoulder), linebacker Josh Uche (shoulder), linebacker Kyle Van Noy (groin), cornerback Shaun Wade (concussion), and defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. (knee).
Bentley, Dugger, Folk, Hightower, Mason, Uche, Van Noy, and Wise all were questionable last week. Only Hightower did not play.
Smith was scheduled to speak to the media Friday but was removed from the schedule, which can sometimes serve as an ominous sign for a player’s availability come game day. Smith exited Sunday’s win over the Jets with the shoulder injury and did not return.
Worth a shot
Wide receiver Nelson Agholor said he and rookie quarterback Mac Jones have been working hard at establishing their connection down the field.
“At the end of the day, you run hard and you give yourself a shot,” Agholor said. “If you make a play on it, it’s an explosive play. If you get that one, then it’s a big-time play.”
Through seven games, Agholor has 19 receptions for 275 yards on a 52.8 percent catch rate. His longest connection with Jones is 30 yards.
But Agholor, a viable deep threat, noted the importance of taking those shots, even if they are sometimes unsuccessful.
“It opens up the other routes,” said Agholor. “When you get people threatened by the vertical, then the intermediate and the quick game gets a little bit of the pressure taken off of it.”
The dye is cast
Because he lost a friendly wager to running back Damien Harris, fullback Jakob Johnson sported a new hair color — crimson — in his virtual meeting with reporters Friday. Johnson and Harris bet on last Saturday’s Tennessee-Alabama game, a battle between their alma maters, and Alabama won handily, 52-24. Johnson said he is hoping to repurpose the look for his Halloween costume, naming “Knuckles the Echidna,” a character from Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog, as one possibility … Linebacker Calvin Munson expressed excitement to be back with the Patriots after signing a one-year contract Wednesday. Munson spent most of the 2018 and 2019 seasons on New England’s practice squad before leaving to join the Dolphins. Now that he’s back, he said his knowledge of the game has improved greatly. “The more years you play, the more things you kind of pick up and learn,” he said. “The more guys you’re with, the more brains you can pick.”
Nicole Yang can be reached at email@example.com.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.