San Diego Chargers

San Diego Chargers: Immediate 53-Man Roster-Cut Predictions Post-Cardinals Game

Marcelo VillaCorrespondent IIAugust 29, 2014

San Diego Chargers: Immediate 53-Man Roster-Cut Predictions Post-Cardinals Game

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    The San Diego Chargers concluded the preseason with a 12-9 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night in one last attempt to finalize the 53-man roster.

    By 1 p.m. PT this Saturday, the dream of playing professional football for the Bolts will end for 22 players when last remaining cuts are announced.

    In the next two days, we can expect head coach Mike McCoy to pick the best 53 for his roster and begin turning his team's focus to the season opener on Sept. 8 against the Cardinals. 

    When asked about the reduction process following Thursday's game, McCoy told Ricky Henne of Chargers.com:

    We have some tough decisions to make. After watching the game from the sideline, you can tell some guys stepped up and helped themselves out. But as an organization we’ll meet in the next few days and find the best 53 guys and move it forward. Then find a few guys to help us on the practice squad. But I’m proud of the way the guys worked.

    Here's how the roster should break down by Saturday.

Quarterback

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Cuts

    1. Brad Sorensen

    Projected Depth Chart

    1. Philip Rivers
    2. Kellen Clemens

    Sorensen's preseason outing in San Francisco left little to be desired from the second-year quarterback, and Clemens proved over the course of four exhibition games that he can be an effective backup to Rivers. 

    The Chargers managed to afford keeping a third quarterback on the roster last season, but they may need that spot to counter injuries on the defensive line. At worst, Sorensen is worthy of a spot on the practice squad.

Running Back

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Projected Cuts

    1. Branden Oliver

    Projected Depth Chart

    1. Ryan Mathews
    2. Danny Woodhead
    3. Donald Brown
    4. Marion Grice

    Thursday's game proved to be a back-and-forth battle at the running back spot between Grice and Oliver, but in the end, it looked as if Grice won the race by a nose. Grice's preseason totals came out to 167 yards on 41 carries, while Oliver finished with 161 yards on 35 carries.

    Oliver appeared to have the clear edge after the first preseason game, but it was Grice who finished strong. I don't envy McCoy's decision here, and I have to assume he chooses to keep the odd man out on the practice squad.

Wide Receiver

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Projected Cuts

    1. Javontee Herndon 
    2. Torrence Allen
    3. Tevin Reese

    Projected Depth Chart

    1. Keenan Allen
    2. Malcom Floyd
    3. Eddie Royal
    4. Vincent Brown
    5. Seyi Ajirotutu
    6. Dontrelle Inman

    Inman may have made the roster by the skin of his teeth on Thursday after a three-catch performance against the Cardinals. The former CFL wideout teased fans in Week 1 of the preseason with 107 receiving yards against the Dallas Cowboys but disappeared the next two games with just one catch for 15 yards to his name.

    With Brown still recovering from a calf injury, the Chargers have room to spare for a sixth receiver. As for Reese, San Diego's seventh-round draft pick dropped balls, and fumbles don't make for a strong resume.

Tight End

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Projected Cuts

    1. Michael Flacco

    Projected Depth Chart

    1. Antonio Gates
    2. Ladarius Green
    3. David Johnson
    4. John Phillips

    The tight end group will essentially be a three-man job with Johnson serving as the team's fullback, but there's plenty to like here. Fans know what they can expect from Gates, and the buzz on Green is that he's a star in the making, but Phillips has been the real kicker so far.

    After tearing his ACL in December of last year, Phillips has made his way back in training camp and capped off the preseason with a game-high four catches for 37 yards on Thursday. Known more for his strength as a blocker, Phillips has shown to be a convincing option in the passing game.

Offensive Line

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Cuts

    1. Mike Harris
    2. Kenny Wiggins
    3. Khalil Wilkes
    4. Craig Watts
    5. Jeremiah Sirles

    Projected Depth Chart

    LT: King Dunlap, Willie Smith

    LG: Chad Rinehart, Chris Watt

    C: Nick Hardwick, Rich Ohrnberger

    RG: Johnnie Troutman, Chris Watt, Jeromey Clary

    RT: D.J. Fluker, Willie Smith

    The position battle to watch on the offensive line has been for the role of swing tackle between Smith and Harris, and on Thursday, it appeared as if Smith did enough to fend off the competition. The interior of the O-line has also been a concern with Clary starting out the year on the physically unable to perform list, but the Chargers feel comfortable in their youth with either Troutman or Watt at right guard.

Defensive Line

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    Projected Cuts

    1. Doug Worthington
    2. Joe Kruger

    Projected Depth Chart

    LDE: Kendall Reyes, Lawrence Guy

    DT: Sean Lissemore, Ryan Carrethers, Chas Alecxih

    RDE: Corey Liuget, Tenny Palepoi

    The loss of Kwame Geathers hurts the depth on the defensive line, but Carrethers and Alecxih may have eased San Diego's anxiety with a better-than-expected showing on Thursday. Against Arizona's second-team offense, Carrethers registered three tackles, and Alecxih stole the show with four stops, two tackles for loss and a sack on Logan Thomas.

    With Palepoi's versatility to play the 3-technique or the edge, I expect he will fill a roster spot as well. The undrafted free agent from Utah notched eight tackles in the preseason and recovered a fumble on Thursday.

Linebacker

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Projected Cuts

    1. Thomas Keiser
    2. Victor Aiyewa
    3. Colton Underwood
    4. Cordarro Law

    Projected Depth Chart

    OLB: Melvin Ingram, Dwight Freeney, Jerry Attaochu

    ILB: Manti Te'o, Kavell Conner

    ILB: Donald Butler, Reggie Walker, Andrew Gachkar

    OLB: Jarret Johnson, Tourek Williams

    Keiser's body of work in the preseason will make it especially hard to part ways with the fourth-year linebacker, as he's managed to tally five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble, but the numbers game doesn't play in his favor. The Chargers like what they have to look forward to in a healthy Freeney and Ingram, and their second-round pick in Attaochu has made strides in training camp and in the preseason.

    The depth at inside linebacker, however, deserves some serious kudos to general manager Tom Telesco. Walker and Conner have looked outstanding in the last two exhibition games, which bodes well for the Chargers and injury-prone players like Te'o and Butler.

    Law, the fierce pass-rusher from the CFL, has also been quite the surprise. He added another three tackles and a strip-sack on Thursday, bringing his totals to 13 stops and 2.5 sacks in four games. I would find it hard to believe he doesn't, at least, find a home on the practice squad.

Secondary

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Cuts

    1. Crezdon Butler
    2. Greg Ducre
    3. Chris Davis
    4. Alden Darby
    5. Adrian Phillips

    Projected Depth Chart

    LCB: Brandon Flowers, Richard Marshall, Steve Williams

    FS: Eric Weddle, Darrell Stuckey

    SS: Marcus Gilchrist, Jahleel Addae

    RCB: Shareece Wright, Jason Verrett

    Improving the secondary was one of the top priorities of San Diego in the offseason, and by the way this unit has performed in the preseason, it's safe to say the Chargers won't be coughing up 259 yards a game like they did last season.

    Flowers and Wright have looked comfortable at corner, and having Verrett back so early post-surgery is going to benefit his progress as a rookie. Addae's injury against Seattle was a minor flaw as he was forced to miss some time in the preseason, but his efforts up to that point had been solid. Weddle, San Diego's premier defender, has looked nothing short of an elite safety, and Gilchrist, Mr. Versatility, continues to rack up tackles in bunches.

    As for the potential cuts, it's tough to see a veteran like Butler on the bubble. Davis failed to make an impact as a returner, and Ducre and Darby essentially waited till the very end to flash potential. Ducre had a team-high six tackles on Thursday, while Darby's fourth-quarter interception of Thomas helped seal the victory against the Cardinals. The practice squad is a possibility for both.

Special Teams

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Cuts

    None

    Projected Depth Chart

    Kicker: Nick Novak

    Punter: Mike Scifres

    Long snapper: Mike Windt

    Punt returner: Eddie Royal

    Kick returner: Donald Brown

    Novak, who had only two made field goals leading up to Thursday's game, was the hero for San Diego with all 12 of his team's points. Novak hit from 35, 37, 39 and a career high of 55 yards against Arizona, which leads me to believe he's more than ready for the start of the regular season.

    Rookies failed to have an impact on the return game like McCoy might have hoped, but I wouldn't rule out Grice getting some reps at kick returner behind Brown. On two attempts, Grice averaged 24.5 yards.

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