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Looking at the “final” 53 for the Chargers and Practice Squad candidates

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How did the 53 wind up shaking out? Who will be coming back on the practice squad?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week I took a stab at projecting the 53, lets take a look at how it actually turned out.

Quaterback

I had the Chargers keeping 3, Philip Rivers, Kellen Clemens, and Cardale Jones. Officially the Chargers kept just 2: Rivers and Jones. However as Clemens poses a low risk to get signed elsewhere, I think the Chargers were able to do something clever here. As Clemens is a vested veteran, his entire salary would have become guaranteed as of the deadline today. The Chargers ALSO can not place anyone on the IR and bring them back before the first week begins. So what I THINK is happening here, is the team released Clemens to keep Denzel Perryman on the roster, then when they are able to IR him and bring him back, they can IR him and bring Clemens back, who they only have to pay week to week now. Dan Woike even said a source told him they plan to bring Clemens back in this tweet.

Running Back

This is very encouraging. The team did some honest to god evaluating and didnt just make a decision based on tenure or anyone’s “guy.” Melvin Gordon and Brandon Oliver were locks, but Austin Ekeler went out and EARNED that 3rd RB spot with every snap this PS. Good for the small school kid from wasted Western State. Also, the team keeps their streak of UDFA’s making the team alive. Ekeler was one of many.

Fullback

Derek Watt remains a work in progress. After not doing much with his snaps in the first few games, Watt looked pretty damn good in the final preseason game. If he can keep that up, great.

Tight End

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but as you read through this you’ll see the team did a good job of keeping guys who are producing and dropping guys who have been injured or not contributing much. Here is one of those few places where it didn’t fully happen. The team kept the Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry, they also kept the guy I had slotted at FB, UDFA Sean Culkin, but they also kept Sean McGrath. McGrath is a guy I don’t see huge value in keeping around especially when you’ve kept a FB and have 3 other TEs, but at least they saw the value in keeping Culkin.

Wide Receiver

The team kept the 5 WR’s pretty much every realistic person thought they would keep. Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman, and Geremy Davis. What surprised me here is that they also kept Mike Williams on the active roster and didn’t place him on the PUP. Last we had all heard, the team was projecting Williams wouldn’t be back until at least October, which means by that timeline the 2017 1st round pick would be a “wasted” roster spot for at least 4 weeks. Hopefully this means he’s ahead of schedule, otherwise I’m not sure he’s going to make an impact that will be worth the wasted spot for 4-6 weeks.

Offensive Line

This was a surprise to me at first. The team is rolling with 8 offensive linemen for now. That tells me they are hoping another OT is in the cuts from another team that they can bring in to the mix (and hopefully drop Sean McGrath). The starting 5, Russell Okung, Matt Slauson, Spencer Pulley, Kenny Wiggins, Joe Barksdale, will be backed up by Dan Feeney, Sam Tevi, and Chris Hairston, with Max Tuerk suspended to start the season.

Defensive Line

The Chargers have 9 players making up the DT/DE positions to start the season. Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Corey Liuget, Brandon Mebane, Darius Philon, Damion Square, Isaac Rochelle, Chris McCain, and Jerry Attaochu. Here is the 2nd place, in my opinion, where the team didn’t stick to their “what have you done for me lately” decision making. Jerry Attaochu hasn’t done anything in over a season and can’t stay healthy. Maybe he will have until Tenny Palepoi finishes his suspension to prove he belongs.

Linebacker

The team kept the same 6 LB’s I projected, but also have Denzel Perryman on the active roster. When I wrote my projection I didn’t realize players couldn’t be IR’d before the cut and be eligible to return. So this makes perfect sense.

Cornerback

The team threw reason out the window for the last time here and kept Craig Mager. Honestly, as much as I dislike Mager, nobody else this preseason gave them much of a reason to drop the former 3rd round pick. If any of the young corners had even 1 outstanding game, he’s probably gone. Pray that Jason Verrett, Desmond King, and Casey Hayward can stay healthy.

Safety

They actually dropped Dwight Lowery. Wow. So the team sticks with 5 safeties, Jahleel Addae, Tre Boston, Adrian Phillips, Dexter McCoil, and 4th round pick Rayshawn Jenkins. Phillips probably won the roster spot in that final preseason game. He was everywhere.

Special teams

I did not see this coming either. Josh Lambo gets the boot. zing. As I brought up in my projection article, Younghoe Koo was allowing more returns, but his kicks seem to be hitting a sweet spot that teams are averaging a worse starting position than the touchback line of 25 yards. Koo didn’t get a chance in games to show off a leg for FGs, so the team must have seen enough in practice to believe in him.

There are some good candidates for the practice squad, which should be announced in it’s first form tomorrow. Brett Boyko, OT/OG, Mike Bercovici, QB, Michael Davis, CB, Jamaal Jones, WR, Mitchel Paige, WR, are 5 that I would hope slip through.

The team also waived/injured a few good players, that should they clear waivers be stashed on the IR unless they are released with an injury settlement: Joshua Perry LB, Isiah Burse WR, Tyreek Burwell OT, Donavon Clark OG, Kenneth Farrow RB.

All in all, there were 2 pretty big surprises with the team dropping Lowery and Lambo. I thought the team did a good job of keeping players that proved themselves this preseason and prioritized keeping playmakers over guys that haven’t shown much.