Here is the Chargers roster as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune as of Friday 1800 hr, although it will probably change before next Monday's game against the Raiders.
No surprises at QB. The Chargers decided to go with only one fullback and four running backs. This means Jacob Hester, a player who A.J. Smith drafted in the third round by trading a 2008 5th round pick and a 2009 2nd rounder to the Patriots, was released. Mr. Hester was a high-character player who didn't bring enough skill to the team. He was expected to play mostly on Special Teams this year, but he got squeezed out by the need to carry an extra RB while Ryan Mathews is injured.
No surprises here, the first four WR's were locks to make the team, and Micheal Spurlock and Richard Goodman were expected to make the roster as well due to their return/special teams contributions, and to provide depth in Vincent Brown's absence. These guys will get offensive snaps. The three veteran TE's are all talented and will contribute, apparrently Coach Turner has cooked up some multiple TE formations. Ladarius Green did not have a spectacular camp, but he's talented and has potential, and the team was not about to cut him after spending a 4th round choice in this year's draft on him.
The wide receiver group has big shoes to fill in trying to replace the lost production and intimidation factor of Vincent Jackson.
Ugh. This unit had been a source of stability and strength for years now on the Chargers. During the Ladainian Tomlinson years, it was a nasty unit that led his way to record numbers. As the team morphed into a passing team with Philip Rivers as the prominent player, the O-line became a stellar pass blocking unit. It featured three Pro Bowlers from the centre going left, but now two of these stalwarts had to retire due to injuries. In their place we have a less-than-comforting mix of returnees, rookies, free agents and other assorted odds and ends.
This unit will be augmented from players cut from other teams today. With the unreliable Jared Gaither on the sidelines, the Chargers can't afford to risk their season by exposing Philip Rivers to certain pounding. The season will turn on the additions made by A.J. Smith and the coaching job of Norv Turner's staff.
Again, no surprises here. The transformation is complete. Luis Castillo was released earlier this summer, and Jacques Césaire walked the plank today. While very popular with teammates and fans, it was time to move on for him, and time to hand the keys to Vaughn Martin, Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget at Defensive End. Antonio Garay may chip in at end too, and will play Nose Tackle, along with veteran free agent Aubrayo Franklin and 2010 5th round pick Cam Thomas, who must start to deliver on his immense potential.
No surprises here either. Andrew Gachkar won his battle with Darryl Gamble and Bront Bird for the final LB/Special Teams spot, although both those gentlemen may stick on the practice squad. With a healthy Larry English, impressive rookie Melvin Ingram, free agent acquisitions Jarret Johnson and Demorrio Williams, pass rush specialist Antwan Barnes returning from last season, trusty veterans Shaun Phillips and Takeo Spikes, and developing youngsters Donald Butler and Jonas Mouton, this is the most improved unit on the team, and should be a source of strength.
A mild surprise that five safeties were retained. Corey Lynch managed to sneak his way on the roster, but it may be short-lived. The normally reliable and well-connected Kevin Acee reports that a safety may be added from the players cut by other teams today, as well as a veteran cornerback. Three of our four CB's are ailing with tender hamstrings, so the team cannot risk going into Oakland without reinforcements. Darrell Stuckey has been suffering from a concussion and sticks on the roster, there had been rumblings that what was first thought to be a stinger might cause him to get waived.
No surprises. If Nick Novak was to beat out Nate Kaeding, he would have to have been lights out while Nate struggled, which didn't happen. Nate seems to have come back from ACL reconstruction with a more powerful boot, if that's possible, he converted 50 yard kicks with ease in camp, while Mr. Novak doinked a 35-yarder off an upright in the first game. He fell behind in the race and never caught up. He may catch on with another team.
A final word about Jacob Hester, who is emblematic of A.J. Smith's spendthrift style at the draft. As discussed, he picked him up in the third round at the cost of a 2nd and a 5th choice, which isn't exorbitant, but hampers the team down the road when it comes to depth. Other players that Mr. Smith traded up to get are Eric Weddle and Ryan Mathews, and in all cases it can be questioned whether the players were worth the cost involved in acquiring them.
With the gaping holes on the offensive line and the lack of depth in the defensive backfield, for example, we can see that the pigeons are coming home to roost. We can't afford to spend two for one picks on players we fall in love with and must have. Eric Weddle took a long time to develop into a quality but hardly dominating player. Ryan Mathews has flashes of greatness mixed in with boneheaded disappointments. Jacob Hester was never the player the Chargers thought he was.
It's time for A.J. Smith to stop getting crushes on picks and just let the draft come to him. He's no longer running a stacked team that is one or two players away from a championship. He needs to pick up talent and depth everywhere on the team, not just one or two All-Americans who are the apple of his eye.