Projecting the San Diego Chargers' Final 53-Man Roster After Preseason Week 2
It's been a crazy first two weeks in the preseason.
Good News: The Chargers are 2-0.
Bad News: Ryan Mathews has a broken clavicle, Vincent Brown has a broken ankle and Jared Gaither has yet to see the field.
If you ask me, I'm sure the Chargers would rather be 0-2 and have those players healthy. It's another speed bump that San Diego must get over.
There's still two weeks for every player on the roster bubble to prove themselves and have a shot at making the team. Through two weeks of the preseason, here are my projections for the Chargers final 53-man roster.
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Starter: Philip Rivers
This is an obvious one. Coming off his worst season as a starter, Philip Rivers will try to rebound in 2012. With the injuries already piling up on offense, things will not be so easy for the feisty quarterback.
Backup: Charlie Whitehurst
His time away from the Chargers wasn't very long. Charlie Whitehurst returns to San Diego to become the backup quarterback once again. Billy Volek was asking for too much money, so the Chargers went with another familiar face. After getting through a minor injury, Whitehurst has the backup position basically locked up.
Running Back/Full Back (5)
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Starter: Ryan Mathews
This was the season that the Chargers expected Ryan Mathews to do big things. On his first carry of the preseason, Mathews broke is clavicle. He was expected to miss six weeks at first, but Mathews continues to reiterate that he'll be ready to go Week 1. Take that lightly. That's Ryan Mathews' opinion. A professional doctor's opinion is different. He believes that Mathews will be out till at least October. Big difference there. As soon as he's healthy and able to play, he'll jump straight back to No. 1 back on the depth chart.
RB 2: Ronnie Brown
As of now, Ronnie Brown is the starter. That's until Ryan Mathews returns. When Brown was signed, his spot on the roster was secured. The Chargers needed a veteran back that they could fall back on if say, Ryan Mathews got injured. Not only does Ronnie Brown bring experience and leadership, the Wildcat formation has been developed since he joined.
RB 3: Curtis Brinkley
Some may disagree with this one. This is the last running back spot on the roster and it comes down to four players: Curtis Brinkley, Jackie Battle, Michael Hayes and Edwin Baker. Count Baker out, he's simply done absolutely nothing to earn himself a spot, even on the practice squad. Hayes has had a great preseason and still has time to prove his talent. Then there's two. It was assumed by many that Jackie Battle would take Mike Tolbert's role, but that's not the case. Curtis Brinkley already proved his value in San Diego last season, and the Chargers will stick with him as the third back.
Starter: Le'Ron McClain
To those who thought Jackie Battle would take Tolbert's role, meet Le'Ron McClain. McClain is arguably the best fullback in the NFL—definitely in the top three. After leaving the Chiefs to join the Chargers, McClain is ready to open up holes for whoever is behind him.
FB 2: Jacob Hester
No way will Jacob Hester be cut. There may even be times this season you see Hester lead blocking for McClain. The biggest reason Jacob Hester will be kept is because of his special teams play. He should once again be captain of that area.
Wide Receiver (6)
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WR 1: Malcom Floyd
When Vincent Jackson left for Tampa Bay, it seemed as if everyone forgot that Malcom Floyd is also 6'5'' with incredible speed. He also has some of the best hands in the league. With Jackson gone now, Floyd should make noise in 2012 if healthy.
WR 2: Robert Meachem
Big-play capability is exactly what Philip Rivers loves and exactly what Robert Meachem brings. The addition of the former Saints receiver will make the loss of Vincent Jackson a little easier. He and Rivers still need to work on their chemistry, but Meachem should have a great season.
WR 3: Eddie Royal
Another receiver who was brought in this offseason to help the core with the loss of VJ is Eddie Royal. He'll make a big impact in the slot position with his speed. Along with his speed and acceleration, Eddie Royal will be the Chargers' punt returner in 2012. The first thing he needs to do is get healthy. Until then, the only impact Royal will be making is taking up a roster spot.
WR 4: Vincent Brown
News just keeps getting worse and worse for the Chargers. Vincent Brown may be the best all-around receiver in San Diego but will have to wait till the second half of the season to show it.
WR 5: Micheal Spurlock
Time to say goodbye to Richard Goodman. Micheal Spurlock will return kickoffs for the Chargers AND contribute on offense in 2012.
WR 6: Mike Willie
This may be against my better judgement, but Mike Willie deserves a spot on the team. With Vincent Brown now out till likely the second half of the season and the injury concerns around Royal, Floyd and Meachem, the Chargers need another receiver.
Tight End (4)
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Starter: Antonio Gates
Nothing needs to be said here.
TE 2: Randy McMichael
Randy McMichael is a veteran player helping teach the young tight ends on the team. He's a great locker room player, and the Chargers love him. When asked to do something, McMichael does it.
TE 3: Ladarius Green
Rookie Ladarius Green was the Chargers' fourth-round selection. He got off to a slow start at the beginning of training camp but has been opening the eyes of coaches and player as of late. He's not a great blocker, which is primarily the worst aspect of his game. With Gates and McMichael as mentors, Green's future looks bright.
TE 4: Dante Rosario
Dante Rosario was brought into camp merely for competition, but he's been making too much noise to be avoided. His 6'4'', 260 lb frame makes him a threat anywhere on the field.
Offensive Line (9)
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Left Tackle: Jared Gaither
Marcus McNeill is retired now, so a new era of Philip Rivers' blindside is starting. Jared Gaither has played five games with the Chargers and already has earned himself a long-term contract. The only problem is he has yet to practice with the team this season. Injuries are keeping him sidelined, and the Chargers are hoping for him to return soon.
Backup Left Tackle: Mike Harris
If Mike Willie doesn't make the team, Mike Harris will continue the consecutive years of an undrafted rookie making the team. He's done a great job this preseason of filling in for Jared Gaither. If Gaither isn't ready for the regular season, the Chargers have full confidence that Harris is ready to protect Rivers.
Left Guard: Tyronne Green
Another era needs to begin with Kris Dielman retired as well. Tyronne Green isn't on the level that Dielman was at, but he's working on it. The Chargers feel that Green can protect Rivers for all 16 games this season.
Backup Guard: Rex Hadnot
Hadnot played last season with the Arizona Cardinals and will be the backup left and right guard for the San Diego Chargers in 2012.
Center: Nick Hardwick
The best lineman in San Diego is Nick Hardwick. He's the leader of the line and will continue to be until he retires.
Backup Center: Dave Molk
Molk was the seventh-round selection for the San Diego Chargers in the 2012 NFL draft.
Right Guard: Louis Vasquez
Louis Vasquez is a very consistent player on the Chargers. He may not be one of the best guards in the league, but he does what he needs to.
Right Tackle: Jeromey Clary
If you're like me, you are disgusted at the fact that Jeromey Clary is the starting right tackle for the Chargers once again. Unfortunately, he's the best San Diego has.
Backup Right Tackle: Mario Henderson
Mario Henderson played his first four seasons with the Oakland Raiders but was not on a roster last season. The Chargers signed him this offseason to see if he could compete with Jeromey Clary this year.
Defensive Line (6)
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Left Defensive End: Vaughn Martin
Starting or backup isn't a major thing for the Chargers defensive line. Vaughn Martin should be on the field for most of the season, but rookie Kendall Reyes will get time as well.
Backup Defensive End: Kendall Reyes
San Diego took Kendall Reyes in the second round of the 2012 draft. Some thought it was a reach, but the Chargers knew he was the right choice. Reyes is battling for a starting position already in his rookie season.
Defensive Tackle: Antonio Garay
The guy with the best hairstyles on the Chargers will try to get back to 2010 form this season. He's done a great job in the middle of San Diego's defensive line so far in his career. He'll continue to be a force.
DT 2: Aubrayo Franklin
Aubrayo Franklin has record 204 tackles and four sacks in his career. He's joining the Chargers after playing for the New Orleans Saints last season.
DT 3: Cam Thomas
Third-year player Cam Thomas is still a work in progress. He has six sacks in his first two seasons as a backup. Thomas will contribute to the Chargers' rotation this season.
Right Defensive End: Corey Liuget
Corey Liuget didn't have a bad first season, but it could've been much better. In his first normal offseason, Liuget is looking the way the Chargers assumed he would last year. Look for Liuget to have a big year in 2012.
Outside Linebacker (5)
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Starter: Shaun Phillips
Shaun Phillips has battled injuries the last few seasons, but when healthy, he's one of the best outside linebackers in the league. In 2012, Shaun Phillips will play the way he used to.
Starter: Jarret Johnson
Coming from Baltimore, Jarret Johnson will add to the Chargers' run stopping defense. He's another veteran on the roster that will not only perform at an elite level for San Diego but help train the young linebackers as well.
Backup: Antwan Barnes
San Diego's sack leader in 2011 will once again make big plays in 2012.
Backup: Larry English
This is the last season for Larry English to prove himself in San Diego. It's a make-or-break season for the former first-rounder.
Backup: Melvin Ingram
Melvin Ingram will be the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012. Mark that down.
Inside Linebacker (4)
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Starter: Takeo Spikes
Takeo Spikes is by far the most consistent player on the Chargers. He had 106 tackles in 2011 and should continue to play at the same level.
Starter: Donald Butler
Playing alongside veteran Takeo Spikes has done wonders for Donald Butler, who had a great season in 2011. Look for Donald Butler to become one of the best inside linebackers in the league very soon.
Backup: Jonas Mouton
Mouton's rookie year was tackled by a season-ending injury that put him an the injured reserve list. He's been looking great in camp and should be given playing time this season.
Backup: Demorrio Williams
Demorrio Williams joins the Chargers after spending the last four years in Kansas City. He's another veteran on the defense that will add to the rotation.
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Starter: Quentin Jammer
Quentin Jammer may be on the downside of his career, but he's still the Chargers' best cornerback. That is until one of the other three prove otherwise.
Starter: Antoine Cason
Like Jammer, Cason was also a first-round selection. He was Antonio Cromartie's backup for a couple of years, and in his first season as a starter, he played outstanding. People raised their expectations for him after that year, so in his next season he was deemed a disappointment. Look for him to play the way he did in 2010.
Backup: Marcus Gilchrist
In his first season in the NFL, Marcus Gilchrist recorded 30 tackles and had two interceptions. He received a good amount of playing time with injuries around the other cornerbacks.
Backup: Shareece Wright
Shareece Wright is having a great training camp. It's going to be his second season in the league, and a normal offseason is allowing him to become the player he wants to be. After returning an interception for 73 yards in Saturday night's preseason game, Shareece Wright becomes a player to watch in 2012.
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Free Safety: Eric Weddle
His season and career high seven interceptions in 2011 led to being an All-Pro. He's becoming one of the best safeties in the league. The era of Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu may be ending soon and the Eric Weddle and Eric Berry era will begin.
Backup: Darrell Stuckey
Stuckey is a young player that still needs to develop. Playing behind Eric Weddle should help speed up that process.
Strong Safety: Atari Bigby
It's a tough call between Bigby and Taylor for starting strong safety, but the Chargers will end up going with the veteran. Eric Weddle loves him and so do the coaches. He's a great locker room guy and the other safeties are already learning from him.
Backup: Brandon Taylor
Brandon Taylor will see a lot of playing time as a rookie. It wouldn't be surprising if he took over the starting strong safety position during the season. He's going to be something special.
Backup: Corey Lynch
Along with Kevin Acee, I am on the Corey Lynch bandwagon. He'll make the team for his special teams play and will be one of the Chargers' best in that area.
Corey Lynch will make the roster, and he will block at least one punt this season.— UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) August 19, 2012
Special Teams (3)
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Kicker: Nate Kaeding
Don't get me wrong, I'm the biggest Nate Kaeding hater. He's lost two playoff games for the Chargers, both of which were against the New York Jets. Oddly enough, that's not enough for San Diego to let him go. Kaeding is the most accurate regular season kicker in the history of the NFL.
Punter: Mike Scifres
He's a top-three punter in the NFL. He's the Chargers' punter till he retires.
Long Snapper: Mike Windt