Like all NFL teams, the Chargers face a Tuesday deadline to trim their roster from 90 players to 85.
The next team – from 85 to 80 – is on August 23. A week after that, the team must reach the limit of 53.
Now, a little less than a month from the Chargers’ opener against Las Vegas on Sept. 11, let’s project where the 53-man roster could end up, keeping in mind that NFL rosters are fluid and will change throughout the season. :
Quarterbacks: Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick
The Chargers have one of the league’s best in Herbert, who enters his third year after perhaps the best two-season start in NFL history. No player has thrown for more yards or touchdowns in his first two years in the league.
Daniel was re-signed in March to remain as Herbert’s back-up. Now 35 years old, he is going into his 13th season.
In talking to his teammates, Stick has to be one of the most popular third quarterbacks in the league. Everyone around the Chargers explaining his intelligence and what he brings to the team.
Stick was only active for one game last season and did not play. He and Daniel seem to have a more legitimate race to be No. 2 to open this season.
After running: Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller, Larry Rountree III
The real questions here are who will start the season as Ekeler’s primary backup and whether he can hold the job for the rest of the season.
Kelley looks stronger and more explosive entering his third year and started the Chargers’ preseason opener on Saturday night. He also talked about being more committed to special teams development.
A fourth-round draft pick in the spring, Spiller is a top-three candidate among Chargers fans. There is real support for the freshman from Texas A&M.
Fullbacks: Zander Horvath
A freshman, Horvath is battling Gabe Nabers for the spot. Nabers was active in 10 games last season, playing mostly special teams. He was on the field for just 46 offensive snaps.
Horvath seems to be the more talented of the two, having played at Purdue.
In the preseason opener, Horvath played 10 special teams and Nabers nine. The ability of special teams could very well decide this competition.
Detailed vehicles: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joshua Palmer, Jalen Guyton, DeAndre Carter
Many observers are predicting a 2022 season for Palmer, who finished his rookie year strong. He was targeted nine times by Herbert in the dramatic final in Las Vegas.
Carter was signed to be the team’s kicker but has also been used extensively in the offense during training camp, both in catching passes and tackling on jet sweeps.
Michael Bandy and Joe Reed played in the Chargers’ preseason opener, and coach Brandon Staley was excited about both. However, there isn’t even a clear path to a roster spot at this point.
Tight ends: Gerald Everett, Donald Parham Jr., Tre’ McKitty
These three are clearly on the depth chart. Admittedly, though, Parham and McKitty are dealing with injuries, with Parham looking further away from a return.
If Parham is unable to start the season, Hunter Kampmoyer is next in line. A former teammate of Herbert’s at Oregon, Kampmoyer made his NFL debut last season, playing three snaps in Week 17 against Denver.
Before Saturday’s showdown, Nabers warmed up to the tight-fisted absence of injuries at the position.
Attack methods: Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, Zion Johnson, Trey Pipkins III, Storm Norton, Will Clapp, Jamaree Salyer, Brenden Jaimes
The real battle between Pipkins and Norton for a starting spot in this camp is the real deal. The expectation today is that Pipkins will win the job, leaving Norton as the swing tackle.
The Chargers invested in Pipkins for another year and used a third-round pick on him in 2019. Norton was signed as a free agent in 2020 after spending time in the XFL.
Salyer, a freshman from Georgia, is playing extensively with the second team, ahead of Jaimes, who was a fifth-round pick in 2021.
Taken in the sixth round, Salyer is versatile, having started at three different positions along the offensive line for the Bulldogs. He also benefited from practicing daily against some of the best defensive players in college football.
Defense methods: Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, Jerry Tillery, Morgan Fox, Christian Covington, Otito Ogbonnia
After not appearing in the 2021 preseason, Tillery started Saturday and played 12 snaps, suggesting his status is more questionable this summer.
Following last season, Staley talked about Tillery still finding his way in the NFL after he described Tillery as an established player a year ago.
Although it seems more likely that he will make the final roster, Tillery not making it past the 53rd remains a possibility. That would allow the Chargers to keep Breiden Fehoko without clearing him from waivers.
Joe Gaziano is another player the Chargers are likely to risk losing if they try to put him on the practice squad.
Edge Accelerators: Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Chris Rumph II, Kyle Van Noy
Due to injuries at linebacker, Van Noy has played almost exclusively inside since training camp opened. The Chargers finally draw to line up the churches on the sideline.
Rumph was one of the players who highlighted Staley on Saturday after he had a second fumble and fumble in the loss to the Rams. He seems to have cemented a spot in the Chargers’ edge rotation.
Emeke Egbule faces another battle to make an impact, which has been his reality since the Chargers drafted him in the sixth round in 2019. A year ago, he was activated three times from the practice group.
Linebackers: Drue Tranquill, Troy Reeder, Amen Ogbongbemiga, Nick Niemann
Kenneth Murray Jr. still appears to be a ways from recovering from offseason foot surgery. The expectation is that he won’t be available for the start of the regular season.
Tranquill, Ogbongbemiga and Niemann have also dealt with injuries of late, although all three appear to be close to returning. When healthy, Tranquill has been solid, and Ogbongbemiga and Niemann have shown potential.
All four of these inside linebackers have played special teams in the past and will likely continue to do so. In Staley’s system, this is a position that calls for versatility and an ability to play in the kicking game.
Back Depth: JC Jackson, Asante Samuel Jr., Bryce Callahan, Michael Davis, Ja’Sir Taylor, Kemon Hall, Deane Leonard
The Chargers significantly strengthened their secondary during the offseason, signing veterans Jackson and Callahan and drafting Taylor and Leonard. Staley has often expressed his love for recruiting defensive backs.
Having more talented players means more options in creating different defensive packages while also increasing special teams talent and depth, something the Chargers have also promised under Staley.
Samuel and Davis are sharing time on the outside against Jackson, a 2021 Pro Bowl player with New England. Davis also approaches the line of scrimmage in some passing situations.
Security: Derwin James Jr., Nasir Adderley, Alohi Gilman, JT Woods
The only real off-field issue for the Chargers is keeping James, the team’s defensive back who is awaiting a contract extension before practicing. Jacob was present at the whole camp and, in any case, otherwise ready to go.
Woods, a freshman selected in the third round out of Baylor, has had some major struggles in his transition to the NFL. Staley spoke Saturday about Woods needing to improve as a hitter.
Adderley is among the players Staley has praised the most since the end of last season. Entering his fourth year, Adderley still has just one career interception in 34 games.
Expert: Dustin Hopkins, JK Scott, Josh Harris
The Chargers signed Harris after he made the Pro Bowl with Atlanta last season, his 10th in the NFL. He’s already been recognized by at least one teammate as one of the Chargers’ leaders.
Scott was signed for Jacksonville after a year in which he played in just one game. Before that, he played three seasons with Green Bay.
Hopkins played 11 games with the Chargers in 2021, hitting 18 of 20 field goals and 30 of 32 extra points.