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Chargers 17-man practice squad prediction

The Chargers will receive a 17th spot on the practice squad thanks to the International Player Program’s exempt spot for CJ Okoye.

NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The next step for the Chargers towards preparing for their week one matchup with the Dolphins is to finalize their 17-man practice squad. Normally, teams are allowed 16 players total, but the Chargers have an exempt spot for IPP player CJ Okoye.

After seeing how the Chargers constructed their 53-man roster, here’s who I think should make their way back to the practice squad this week.

WR Keelan Doss

Doss led the Chargers in receptions and receiving yards through their three-game preseason slate. He caught three passes in every game, showing the type of consistency you want from a depth player. His 6’3, 215-pound frame is also the ideal archetype of a Chargers wideout. They needed to carry more players elsewhere, otherwise I would have expected Doss to make the final roster while Jalen Guyton remains on the PUP list.

OG Zack Bailey

Bailey was the best offensive line for the Chargers during the preseason by a mile. He recorded three overall game grades above 77.0, including two above 80.0. He was strongest as a pass protector and played mainly right guard. Despite his strong performance, the Chargers chose to go with Brenden Jaimes who offers center/guard versatility over Bailey’s tackle/guard skillset. So in the end, it wasn’t necessarily that Jaimes played better, but that his versatility was just the better fit to round out the room over Bailey’s.

If there is one player cut from the Chargers that I believe has the strongest chance of getting claimed, it’s Bailey, but for now we’re expecting him to clear and return to LA.

CB Cam Brown

Brown looked like the strongest player amongst the team’s undrafted cornerbacks. He punctuated his preseason performance with an 83.8 overall game grade against the 49ers with strong grades across the board in coverage and run defense. He also led the Chargers with three pass breakups, two of which came in his first NFL contest against the Rams.

WR Terrell Bynum

Bynum’s highlight of the preseason came on a fourth down play in which quarterback Easton Stick heaved one up to him in triple coverage. Bynum did an excellent job of coming back to the ball to make the catch with defenders all around him. He ended the preseason with five catches for 60 yards.

CB Tiawan Mullen

After rough start in the Rams game, Mullen bounced back with a top-three coverage grade against the Saints and 49ers. He allowed seven catches for 91 yards during the month of August, but only two receptions for 21 yards came in the final two games.

WR Pokey Wilson

Wilson was one of the quieter receivers in the preseason as he caught just one pass for 14 yards. While that alone doesn’t sound too impressive, Wilson was arguably the better player during training camp between him and Bynum. The former Florida State wideout showed the ability to get behind defenses and it’s unfortunate that skillset isn’t all that viable during the preseason when quarterbacks are being protected by backups and third-stringers.

TE Hunter Kampmoyer

A former college teammate of Justin Herbert’s at Oregon, Kampmoyer’s been a mainstay for the Chargers on the practice squad over the past two seasons. He’ll remain with the team as they maintain some consistency amongst their developmental players.

DT Jerrod Clark

Clark was arguably one of the best defensive linemen on the Chargers during the preseason and it was quite the surprise to see him not kept on the initial 53. It’s possible they feel he would not be claimed off waivers, but after his strong performance as a run defender, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he did.

DT David Moa

Moa is still young and has the potential to be a solid backup along the interior. He’ll likely be the first defensive tackle brought up from the practice squad in the case of injuries, but he was outplayed by fellow tackle Christopher Hinton which is why the latter made it over the former.

QB Max Duggan

Duggan didn’t get much of a chance to play during the team’s first two preseason games, but he made the most of his snaps in tine finale against the 49ers where he rushed for 51 yards and threw his first professional touchdown. The Chargers aren’t worried he’ll get picked up on waivers so the expectation is he’ll land on the practice squad with little doubt.

LB Mikel Jones

Jones was consistent over his three preseason games. He posted two games over 70.0 by Pro Football Focus and one other above 65.0. He was a rangy linebacker at Syracuse who had a nose for finding the football. That showed as he assisted on Daiyan Henley’s interception against the 49ers. I think he’s a smart player and the Chargers will like to have that on the practice squad in case they needed to tap into their emergency depth.

EDGE Andrew Farmer

It was already reported on Wednesday morning that Farmer is expected to sign back with the Chargers on the practice squad should he pass through waivers. Farmer was a tackle-for-loss machine in college and he’s physically well-built for the pro game. He outplayed every edge rusher that was fighting for a job during the preseason and he rightfully deserves to stick around as an intriguing developmental player.

OT Austen Pleasants

Pleasants was the team’ main starter at left tackle during the preseason. He wasn’t all that impressive but the Chargers want to keep him around for consistency’s sake as emergency depth. I believe the team needs to find a way to upgrade the swing tackle role, but Pleasants is just fine as a stash on the practice squad.

EDGE Carlo Kemp

Kemp led the Chargers defense in pressures during the preseason with seven, all of which came against the Rams and Saints. His size gives him the potential to holdup well as a run defender on the edge but he’ll have to work on his finesse game to take his game to a level that befits the active roster.

S Mark Webb

Webb performed well in training camp which led many to believe he was destined for the active roster. In a surprise move, the Chargers chose undrafted free agent AJ Finley to be the team’s final safety on the 53. In his Tuesday presser, Telesco mentioned that they liked Finley’s preseason performance and that they view him as a bigger special teams contributor this year over Webb. If that’s the case, Webb certainly lands on the practice squad.

DT CJ Okoye

Okoye will be the team’s 17th practice squad player as he gets an exempt spot due to being in the International Players Program. He’s an incredibly interesting developmental player at 6’6 and 315 pounds. He’s lean, naturally strong, and the coaches love how much the team has circled around him. He’s good for morale and the Bolts would love to see where he goes over the next year.

DT Christian Covington

I’m cheating here. As I was writing about a “player TBD” as the team’s final practice squad member, Ian Rapoport reported that Covington is re-signing with the Chargers, so there’s that. Covington signed with the Lions in May of 2023 after the Chargers chose not re-sign him. After being amongst Detroit’s final cuts, he returns to a defense he knows well.