Three tweaks were made to the San Diego Chargers' projected 53-man roster, following Saturday’s preseason game against the Cowboys.
QB -- In: (2) Philip Rivers and Charlie Whitehurst (free agent, Seahawks). Out: Jarrett Lee (undrafted, LSU). Analysis: Lee is starting to show he could develop into a quality NFL QB, but the Chargers will likely try to sneak him on the practice squad to free up a roster spot.
RB -- In: (4) Ryan Mathews, Curtis Brinkley, Ronnie Brown (free agent, Eagles) and Jackie Battle (free agent, Chiefs). Out: Michael Hayes (undrafted, Houston) and Edwin Baker (round seven, 250th overall). Analysis: Brinkley was considered to be on the bubble before the injury to Mathews but now will back up Brown. Battle will provide depth as the third-string back and will contribute on special teams. Hayes and Baker are competing for a spot on the practice squad.
FB -- In: (2) Le'Ron McClain (free agent, Chiefs) and Jacob Hester. Out: No one. McClain (6-0, 260) will supplant Hester (5-11, 235) as the starting FB. They will also occasionally touch the ball as a receiver and RB. Hester will primarily work on special teams.
WR -- In: (5) Malcom Floyd, Robert Meachem (free agent, Saints), Eddie Royal, WR-KR Richard Goodman and WR-KR Micheal Spurlock (free agent, Buccaneers). Out: Roscoe Parrish (free agent, Bills), Mike Willie (undrafted, Arizona State), Taylor Embree (undrafted, UCLA), Phillip Payne (undrafted, Nevada-Las Vegas) and Jason Barnes (undrafted, South Carolina). Analysis: This assumes Brown (left ankle) will be placed on the injured reserve list to start the season. Six receivers will be kept if Turner decides to hold a roster spot for Brown. If that happens, there will be less depth elsewhere on the roster. In May, the owners agreed to allow one player from each team's IR list to be added back to the active roster later in the season, but this has yet to be approved by the NFLPA.
TE -- In: (3) Antonio Gates, Randy McMichael and Dante Rosario (free agent, Broncos). Out: Kory Sperry, Ladarius Green (round four, 110th overall) and Brad Taylor. Analysis: Gates is healthy for the first time in two years and could return to his Pro Bowl form. McMichael will stay because of his blocking skills. The Chargers have concerns on the left side of the line and he can be used as an extra lineman. Rosario has shown he is a more complete TE than Sperry, who was the third-string TE last season. The Chargers would like to protect Green on the 53-man roster, but they may not be able to because the injury to Mathews requires four RBs are kept. Green has not had a catch in preseason.
OL -- In (9): LTs Jared Gaither and Michael Harris (undrafted, UCLA), LGs Tyronne Green and Rex Hadnot (free agent, Cardinals), Cs Nick Hardwick and David Molk (round seven, 226th overall), RG Louis Vasquez and RTs Jeromey Clary and Mario Henderson (free agent, Raiders in 2010): Out: G/T Brandyn Dombrowski, Johnnie Troutman (round five, 149th overall), Anthony Davis (free agent, Destroyers of the UFL), Michael Toudouze (free agent, Colts), Colin Baxter, Cordell Bell (undrafted, Minnesota State-Mankato) and Phil Trautwein (undrafted, Florida) Analysis: Gaither (back spasms) has missed most of training camp. Turner has said Gaither is day-to-day and will be ready by opening day, but that remains to be seen. Harris has played the majority of first-team reps at LT, which will likely secure him a roster spot. But Harris was badly beaten for a sack on the second offensive play against the Cowboys. Turner has already declared Green will be the opening-day starter at LG. Molk won the 2011 Rimington Trophy for best collegiate center and will likely replace Baxter as the backup to Hardwick, but Molk botched a snap against Dallas that led to a turnover. Vasquez will remain the starter at RG, and Hadnot will back up both sides at G. Clary will retain his starting job at LT. Henderson will back up both sides at OT. Bell has played both sides at OT and is a strong candidate for the practice squad.
DL -- In (6): Left DEs Vaughn Martin and Kendall Reyes (round two, 49th overall), NTs Antonio Garay, Aubrayo Franklin (free agent, Saints), Right DEs Corey Liuget and Jacques Cesaire. Out: Cam Thomas, Harrell Logan (undrafted, Fresno State), Damik Scafe, Charlie Bryant (undrafted, Memphis), Eddie Brown (undrafted, Texas A&M) and Garrett Brown (undrafted, Minnesota). Analysis: Cesaire earns a roster spot over Thomas because of his veteran leadership and the ability to play anywhere on the line. With Garay (foot) out against the Cowboys, Franklin received the start at NT over Thomas. This puts Thomas on the outside looking in.
OLB -- In (5): Shaun Phillips, Melvin Ingram (round one, 18th overall), Jarret Johnson (free agent, Ravens), Larry English and Antwan Barnes. Out: Darryl Gamble and Ricky Elmore (undrafted, Arizona). Analysis: The plan is to rotate this group to keep fresh legs on the field that consistently get after the QB. Elmore had two QB hits and a forced fumble against Dallas and is a leading candidate for the practice squad.
ILB -- In (5): Right “MAC” ILBs Takeo Spikes, Jonas Mouton (round three, 2010) and Bront Bird and Left “MO” ILBs Donald Butler, Demorrio Williams. Out: Andrew Gachkar. Analysis: Mouton is essentially a rookie because he missed all of last season after injuring his shoulder in the final preseason game. Butler had an outstanding year last season after missing his rookie campaign with a torn ACL. Williams will provide veteran depth and has looked good in camp. Bird (undrafted, 2011) has outplayed Gachkar (round seven, 2011) in preseason. Gachkar is off the roster this week to make room for SS Corey Lynch.
CB -- In (4): right CBs Quentin Jammer and Marcus Gilchrist and left CBs Antoine Cason and Shareece Wright. Out: Gregory Gatson (Arkansas), De'Andre Presley (Appalachian State), and Arthur Hobbs (undrafted, Nebraska at Kearney). Analysis: Jammer is coming off his worst season, which he attributes to a difficult divorce that led to bouts of depression. Cason is also coming off a down year in which he never seemed to gel with former defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. Cason and defensive coordinator John Pagano appear to be working well together. Gilchrist will either be the starting nickel back in third-down situations or back up both corners. Wright and Gilchrist are competing for the nickelback job; the other will back up both sides. Wright has caused three turnovers (two FF and one INT) in preseason. Gatson has been solid in camp and is a strong candidate for the practice squad.
SS -- In (3): Atari Bigby, Brandon Taylor (round three, 73rd overall) and Corey Lynch (free agent, Buccaneers). Out: No one. Analysis: Bigby will likely begin the season as the starter over Taylor, but that is not set in stone. Lynch provides great depth and can contribute on special teams.
FS -- In (2): Eric Weddle and Darrell Stuckey. Out: Sean Cattouse (undrafted, Cal). Analysis: Weddle has developed into a locker room leader. He had seven INTs last season -- tied for the league lead -- and he made his first Bro Bowl. Stuckey is a strong contributor on special teams.
Special teams -- In (3): K Nate Kaeding, P Mike Scifres and LS Mike Windt. Out. K Nick Novak, P Robert Malone (free agent, Lions) and LS Nick Guess (undrafted, Tennessee). Analysis: Novak missed a 35-yard field goal in the first preseason game. This was a big blow to his chances of keeping the kicking job over Kaeding, who tore his ACL in Week 1 last season. There is no perceived competition at either the punter or long-snapper positions.
Players on the bubble -- (9) ILB Bront Bird, DE Jacques Cesaire, ILB Andrew Gachkar, TE Ladarius Green QB Jarrett Lee, SS Corey Lynch, WR Roscoe Parrish, TE Kory Sperry and DT Cam Thomas.
Leading practice-squad candidates -- (8) QB Jarrett Lee, OLB Ricky Elmore, DE Harrell Logan, OT Cordell Bell, CB Greg Gatson, WR Mike Willie, RB Michael Hayes and TE Ladarius Green.