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Larry Rountree III Release Opens Door for Elijah Dotson

With Larry Rountree III out of the picture, the door is more open for UDFA Elijah Dotson to fight for a Chargers roster spot.
Elijah Dotson

The Los Angeles Chargers have released running back Larry Rountree III. This came two days after a preseason win where the team rushed for over 200 yards, and everyone produced – except Rountree. This opens the door more easily for undrafted free agent Elijah Dotson to have a better chance of grabbing a roster spot, who scored two touchdowns late in said preseason game.

Release of Larry Rountree III Opens Door for Elijah Dotson

The End (?) for Rountree

In the preseason opener, Rountree took five carries for a measly nine yards, averaging just 1.8 yards a carry. This was on a night when every other running back averaged at least five yards a carry. The offensive line was clearly doing its job, so for Rountree to be the odd man out evidently made the staff run out of patience with him – which makes sense, especially if there’s a new talent waiting in the wings.

In fact, Rountree never showed much in general. In two seasons, he did have one touchdown, but he also averaged 2.2 yards per carry and actually spent the majority of 2022 on the practice squad. He never showed any receiving talent either. The only time he showed much promise was the preseason of his rookie year, but that promise never really showed up again and he has seemingly just gotten worse since then. If the Chargers hadn’t had such lackluster depth at the running back position before, Rountree probably would not have lasted even this long.

With a resume like that, it’s hard to see him getting a chance from another team, but anything is possible. He’ll at least have a little time to get another chance before the preseason ends.

Elijah Dotson Stock Rising

The most immediate beneficiary of the Rountree cut is undrafted free agent Elijah Dotson. He unexpectedly exploded in the preseason opener, taking six carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns. In both cases, he followed the blocks set up quite well and then used his speed to finish the deal.

Despite that strong showing, expectations should be somewhat tempered. This was all late in the game, so Dotson would have been doing this against the third and fourth-stringers of the Rams defense. We have yet to see how he will hold up against tougher competition.

Still, he is absolutely a guy to watch the rest of the preseason. Whether he gets a roster spot or practice squad spot instead may come down to whether Brandon Staley decides to keep four or five halfbacks on the roster (including fullback Zander Horvath). If it’s five, Dotson is essentially in at this point. If four is the max for Staley, Dotson may have to settle for the practice squad this year. Dotson will have a couple more weeks to persuade Staley to keep five.

Creating a Stronger Running Back Corps

It’s only preseason, but the Chargers running back corps looked alive in the opener as a unit in a way we haven’t seen from them for some time. Rushing for 214 yards is nothing to sneeze at, regardless of the time of year, and it would have been even more if Isaiah Spiller’s 70-yard touchdown run hadn’t been called back by a penalty. And we didn’t even see Austin Ekeler play.

Considering how lackluster the running back depth has been as of late, it’s exciting to see not only players like Spiller doing better, but having a new prospect like Dotson come into the mix that could give them even more utility at the position. As was said earlier, excitement should be tempered because it’s preseason, but it’s a development to watch out for regardless.


Main Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


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