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Breaking down the Chargers initial 53-man roster

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NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Training camp is over, the preseason has finally come to a merciful end, and 37 players have been informed they won’t be part of the 2019 Los Angeles Chargers. Granted, 10-12 of those players will likely wind up on the practice squad, but you get my point – the through a series of cuts and releases, the Chargers 2019 roster is beginning to take shape.

While most of the roster shaped up as it was expected to, there were certainly a handful of surprises along the way. Let’s take a look at the 2019 Chargers, discuss their initial 53-man roster, and consider how it might change between now and September 8.

Quarterback:

  • Philip Rivers
  • Tyrod Taylor
  • Easton Stick

I think most of us left Thursday’s game in San Francisco convinced Cardale Jones had probably won the battle for the QB3. As it turns out, the team valued the draft capital it invested in Easton Stick over Jones’ considerable on-field progress this preseason. I think team control also played a major factor, as Stick is under contract for four years, while Jones was on a one-year deal AND was entering his final year of practice squad eligibility with the team. Stick wins out and Cardale will probably find work elsewhere fairly quickly.

Running Back:

  • Austin Ekeler
  • Justin Jackson
  • Troymaine Pope
  • Derek Watt (FB)

Melvin Gordon begins the season on the NFL Reserve/Did Not Report List by virtue of this hold out, which is why he isn’t on the 53. Other than that, it was pretty clear to me that Troymaine Pope earned the third spot on the depth chart with his preseason performance. The only real question here is whether or not Detrez Newsome eventually winds up as the fourth running back once the team makes its inevitable slew of moves between now and next September 8.

Wide Receiver:

  • Keenan Allen
  • Mike Williams
  • Travis Benjamin
  • Dontrelle Inman
  • Geremy Davis

The only question with the wide receivers was whether the Bolts would keep Geremy Davis, Artavis Scott, or both of their young receivers. In the end, they opted to keep five, and they chose Geremy Davis over Artavis Scott. The club obviously decided it was more important to retain Davis, who they know will contribute on special teams, over Scott in spite of the latter’s obvious play-making abilities as a receiver. As of this writing, Scott has already signed with the team’s practice squad, so nothing was really lost.

Offensive Line:

  • Trent Scott
  • Dan Feeney
  • Mike Pouncey
  • Michael Schofield
  • Sam Tevi
  • Forrest Lamp
  • Trey Pipkins III
  • Scott Quessenberry

Russell Okung will open the season on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) List, and I suspect the team will eventually settle on an interior trio of Forrest Lamp, Mike Pouncey and Dan Feeney, which gives me some comfort. While I am starting to see some good traits in Trey Pipkins, I don’t like this tackle group and seriously question the wisdom of only carrying three inexperienced tackles. That’s why I would be stunned if the Bolts don’t add at least one lineman through waiver wire or trade before September 8. If they don’t, we riot.

Defensive End:

  • Joey Bosa
  • Melvin Ingram
  • Isaac Rochell
  • Chris Peace

I admittedly preferred Anthony Lanier over Chris Peace. Having said that, I have no problem with the decision to keep Peace, even if I do think he’s a little redundant with Melvin Ingram and Uchenna Nwosu already on the roster. This is a fun and deep group that should give Gus Bradley a variety of options for generating pressure off the edge.

Defensive Tackle:

  • Brandon Mebane
  • Justin Jones
  • Jerry Tillery
  • Damion Square
  • Cortez Broughton

The only real surprise in terms of the depth chart is Cortez Broughton, who flashed a few times during the preseason but was mostly quiet. As they did with Easton Stick, the team ultimately decided to protect a draft pick over keeping a player like TY McGill, who had a better preseason. It wouldn’t shock me if Cortez wound up being a place-holder for an as-yet unsigned safety or offensive lineman, with designs on stashing him on the practice squad after the other teams fill out their practice squads.

Linebacker:

  • Uchenna Nwosu
  • Kyzir White
  • Thomas Davis
  • Drue Tranquill
  • Denzel Perryman
  • Jatavis Brown
  • Emeke Egbule
  • Nick Dzubnar

I’ll be blunt: Nick Dzubnar no longer belongs on this roster after all the time, money and draft capital spent rebuilding the linebacker group. Players like Drue Tranquill, Jatavis Brown and Emeke Egbule need the special teams snaps Dzubnar would presumably receive if he remains on the roster and, as we know, Nick offers nothing on defense. That’s why I suspect he will probably be among the first to go if the team adds anyone off of waivers. Look for the Chargers to head into the Colts game with seven linebackers, as opposed to the eight they decided to break camp with.

Cornerback:

  • Casey Hayward
  • Michael Davis
  • Desmond King
  • Brandon Facyson
  • Trevor Williams

Quite frankly, I would have bet money the team had lost patience with Trevor Williams seemingly never-ending list of nagging injuries and opted to keep the far more available Jeff Richards, even if Richards isn’t very good. They obviously went with ability over availability when they decided to keep Williams. We can only hope Trevor is nearing a return – both to good healthy and productivity – because, let’s face it; none of the other corners the Chargers had in camp are very good. I’d keep an eye out for a potential waiver wire addition here during the week leading up to the Colts game.

Safety:

  • Jaylen Watkins
  • Rayshawn Jenkins
  • Adrian Phillips
  • Roderic Teamer
  • Nasir Adderley

Special teams:

  • Michael Badgley
  • Ty Long
  • Cole Mazza

No real surprises here, with the exception of the decision to cut Mike Windt mid-way through the preseason. I’m just glad Ty Long is able to handle punting, kick-off and holding duties, which allowed the team to avoid carrying an extra specialist on a roster with needs at safety and offensive line.

Summary

There you have it: that’s the Chargers initial 53-man roster for the 2019 season. As I stated above, I would expect some movement over the next few days. The team will presumably add an offensive lineman (or two?), a safety, attempt to stash Cortez Broughton on the practice squad mid-week, and hopefully, release Nick Dzubnar. I also still think there is a chance we see the team carry four running backs, depending on what happens at offensive tackle and safety.