On the first day since losing their highest-drafted defensive rookie, the Chargers added a new face from a familiar place.
Linebacker Ali Highsmith signed and practiced with the Chargers Wednesday after being cut by the Arizona Cardinals earlier in the week. The former Louisiana State Tiger, one of five now on the 80-man roster, offers the team depth after a torn Achilles tendon ended Donald Butler's season on Tuesday.
The Chargers traded up to select Butler in the third round of last April's draft. The inside linebacker from Washington sustained the injury in practice, later describing it as “heartbreaking” to the Associated Press.
“I've never dealt with something like this,” Butler said. “Right now I'm just trying to make it through.”
The Chargers are trying to do the same without their highly touted rookie.
Butler was expected to contribute significantly to the team's defensive and special teams packages. Highsmith, who was active in special teams last season with the Cardinals, will hope to earn a similar role in San Diego.
He will also fight for reps at Butler's vacated position, which is led by veterans Stephen Cooper, Brandon Siler and Kevin Burnett.
“Anywhere they need me,” Highsmith said to Chargers.com. “Anything to solidify a job.”
James Holt, a special teams standout in 2009, is the leading candidate to fill Butler's role, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Highsmith won a national championship at LSU with Chargers teammates Jacob Hester, Buster Davis and fellow inside linebacker Darry Beckwith. Josh Reed also attended LSU, making the five-player total the most represented school at Chargers training camp.