This is one of the more interesting groups to predict because of Ryon Bingham. We'll get to him in a little bit though. First, a look back.
The Chargers started the 2008 season with 6 defensive linemen on their roster. They ended the season with 8. Does that mean they think they can start with 6 and add on later, when the injuries start to pile up, or does that mean the Chargers now realize they need to start the season with 8 defensive linemen?
I don't think the reasoning matters, because I think they're going to start with 8 defensive linemen on the roster. Each of the 3 D-line spots (2 DEs, 1 NT) needs at least 1 backup in case of injury. I don't know that the team is ready for Vaughn Martin to be starting games if an injury occurs, and according to the team they're ready to keep Bingham on the team even though he'll be injured from now until cut-downs.
Right now, there are 10 defensive linemen on the Chargers roster. They are:
- Jacques Cesaire
- Keith Grennan
- Vaughn Martin
- Andre Coleman
- Luis Castillo
- Ryon Bingham
- Jamal Williams
- Rashaad Jackson
- Ogemdi Nwagbuo
- Ian Scott
Here are the "guaranteed to make it" guys:
Martin may be a controversial name to have on that list, but there's not a chance in hell that he gets cut this season. He has been growing and getting better through training camp and the team is excited to see what heights he can reach. Best case scenario is that Vaughn is a starter in 2010. So we have about 4 spots left and 6 guys.
These are the backups according to the Chargers current depth chart. Scott is the backup NT, Bingham and Coleman are backup DEs. Bingham, who is out until "sometime in September" with a torn tricep, is the trickiest piece to this puzzle. The team wants to keep him, but he'll start off the year by taking a spot away from a healthy player. If his recovery goes slower than expected, the team could put him on the PUP list, but that would ensure that he would not be able to return until Week 7 at the earliest.
I don't think the team will change their mind and cut Bingham. He's been solid as a backup and is the backup plan in case Cesaire doesn't get healthy or doesn't play well as a starter. If Bingham had stayed healthy and Martin played incredible well through the rest of the preseason, I'd say there was a chance that Scott could get cut (with Ryon taking over as backup NT), but now I don't think so. These 7 spots would be enough if I thought the team trusted Martin to play extensively in the regular season this year, but I don't.
The fight for the 8th spot is between Jackson, Nwagbuo and Grennan. I think the next 2 preseason games will help to determine the winner of that spot. The second best among the bunch may end up on the practice squad. Now we all have a reason to watch the second half of Saturday's game.