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Chargers’ 53-man roster final prediction: Who will make the cut?

NFL teams have a deadline of Tuesday at 1 pm PDT to reduce their rosters to 53 players.

All of those cutouts can be added to practice squads after clearing waivers. Any player claimed must be added to the claiming team’s 53-man roster.

Here’s a projection of what things will look like for the Chargers:

Quarterbacks (3): Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick

Daniel re-signed in March to remain Herbert’s backup. Now 35 years old and entering his 13th season, Daniel has appeared over the past month to cement his position as the team’s No. 1 player. 2 quarterbacks entering Week 1.

Some fans are understandably wondering about Stick’s value, given how little he has played (one career game) since being drafted in the fifth round in 2019. Stick was active for one game last season and didn’t appear.

But the coaching staff praises Stick’s intelligence and how much he means to the operation as a whole. With so much internal support, it’s hard to imagine him not being on the 53-man roster.

Running Backs (4): Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller, Larry Rountree III

With his performance Friday in New Orleans, Kelley likely closed out the No. 2 spot behind Ekeler, who is looking to build on a 20-touchdown season from a year ago.

Backing up Ekeler could still remain a fluid situation throughout the season as the Chargers continue to try to develop their other three running backs.

It was tempting to go with just three in this position, with Rountree on the outside. But with Spiller dealing with an ankle injury and he may not be available in Week 1, the Chargers need to cover.

Wingbacks (1) — Zander Horvath

As training camp wound down, Horvath’s special teams increased their involvement. The Chargers would love for him to become a reliable contributor to their kick coverage.

Beyond that, who knows? Fullback Gabe Nabers was active for 10 games last season and played just 46 offensive snaps.

Chargers wide receiver DeAndre Carter runs after making a catch against the New Orleans Saints on Friday.

(Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)

Wide receivers (5): Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joshua Palmer, Jalen Guyton, DeAndre Carter

As good as Michael Bandy was in the preseason, the Chargers’ five wide receiver spots seemed to be set from the first stretch of training camp.

The math of the entire roster makes it nearly impossible to keep a sixth receiver, especially when what Bandy offers the Chargers they already have. It would appear to be a knockout blow for the practice squad if he clears the waivers.

Tight ends (3): Gerald Everett, Donald Parham Jr., Tre’ McKitty

The only real question between these three is whether Parham will be ready for the start of the season as he recovers from a hamstring injury sustained in early August.

Hunter Kampmoyer will likely head to the practice squad as insurance. On the other hand, Kampmoyer fumbled in Friday’s game, and the Chargers could look to add a tight end off the waiver wire.

Once again, though, adding a fourth tight end from another team would mean eliminating someone who would otherwise be at the Chargers’ 53rd.

Offensive linemen (9): Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, Zion Johnson, Trey Pipkins III, Storm Norton, Will Clapp, Jamaree Salyer, Brenden Jaimes

Pipkins beat out Norton for the starting right tackle job, leaving Norton as the swing tackle at the start of the season.

Clapp is Linsley’s backup at center and Salyer and Jaimes are backup inside players.

The right side of the line will be closely monitored, with Johnson a rookie and Pipkins inexperienced as a starter.

Defensive linemen (6): Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, Morgan Fox, Jerry Tillery, Christian Covington, Otito Ogbonnia

Arriving at the training ground, it was thought that Tillery might be in danger of being cut. That no longer appears to be a possibility, although his role will be diminished in a much deeper rotation to start this season.

Breiden Fehoko beating Covington is a real possibility given how well Fehoko played in training camp and preseason games. Both started Friday and played a little more than half of the snaps defensively.

Edge Chasers (3): Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Chris Rumph II

Due to linebacker injuries, Kyle Van Noy played inside almost exclusively during training camp. With the return of Kenneth Murray Jr. last week, the Chargers can also play Van Noy on the edge.

The veteran’s flexibility was something the Chargers touted after signing him in free agency and something they will try to exploit this season, unless injuries indicate otherwise.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara tries to break up a tackle from Chargers linebacker Nick Niemann.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara tries to break up a tackle from Chargers linebacker Nick Niemann during the Chargers’ preseason loss on Friday.

(Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)

Linebackers (6): Kyle Van Noy, Drue Tranquill, Kenneth Murray Jr., Troy Reeder, Nick Niemann, Amen Ogbongbemiga

Murray has said he will “absolutely” be ready for the start of the season after undergoing ankle surgery in April. He has been a productive tackler when he was healthy.

Niemann and Ogbongbemiga have been working with the best kick coverage units on the team, which suggests that they will both be on the season opener roster. Point guards should also be regulars on special teams.

Cornerbacks (5): JC Jackson, Michael Davis, Bryce Callahan, Asante Samuel Jr., Ja’Sir Taylor

Jackson could miss the start of the season after undergoing a procedure on his right ankle. The Chargers have announced that, in the worst case scenario, he will not be available for Weeks 1 and 2.

The odd man out here is Deane Leonard, a seventh-round draft pick who struggled in the Chargers’ preseason opener and is now dealing with a hamstring injury.

Safety (5): Derwin James Jr., Nasir Adderley, Alohi Gilman, Mark Webb Jr., JT Woods

Webb has a lot of support among Chargers coaches, which led to his inclusion here despite the nagging injuries that have marred his NFL career to date.

He missed the end of training camp with a calf problem, but still offers the versatility coach Brandon Staley covets.

Woods will have to develop quickly if he’s going to contribute early on as a rookie. His tackle remained in dispute Friday in New Orleans.

Specialists (3) — Dustin Hopkins, JK Scott, Josh Harris

These three locations have been established since the Chargers opened training camp.


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