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Chargers Preseason Now a Waiting Game

Cut day looms after 20-17 loss to 49ers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews #24 runs for a 56-yard touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during their preseason NFL Game on September 1, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium in San DIego.

    Cut day is coming in San Diego.

    Chargers players now can only wait.

    The four-part preseason series closed Thursday night at Qualcomm Stadium in expected fashion, as a full-strength San Francisco 49ers offense cruised past a defense missing its most valuable front-seven pieces, and the Chargers' reserves showed life late in a 20-17 loss.

    Running back Ryan Mathews had a 56-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter to highlight the action. He completes the preseason with 24 carries for 187 yards and a 7.8 average.

    Quarterback Scott Tolzien drove the team to a late fourth-quarter score, finding Seyi Ajirotutu for a nine-yard touchdown. He was 16-for-23 for 226 yards, sewing up, at worst, a practice squad spot should he be released and clear waivers.

    And that's the difficult part.

    Who made the team, and who didn't?

    “Well, we have to cut (from 80) to 53 on Saturday,” coach Norv Turner said. “We have some work to do in terms of our meetings, discussions and talking. We have some obvious guys that are here — a bunch of them. We have to make some decisions that will be difficult.”

    Starting early Saturday morning, 27 will be asked to return their playbook.

    All cuts will be made before the team's noon practice. The released players will be placed on waivers, and of those unclaimed by other teams, as many as eight could potentially be invited Sunday to join the practice squad.

    That makes for one long Friday.

    Wide receiver Bryan Walters came to offseason player workouts during the summer lockout. He earned a reputation of being smart and reliable. He has produced on the field, including converting both his targets Thursday night for 25 yards.

    The 23-year-old can take Friday to reflect on it all.

    Or he can enjoy his distraciton.

    “I've got family in town,” Walters said. “I'll go hang out in San Diego with them and not think about it too much. Just prepare as if I'm going to practice on Saturday.”

    Richard Goodman has excelled in special teams, both as a returner and coverage man. The speedster contributed on last year's practice squad.

    Has he shown enough to claim a Chargers roster spot when the team opens its season Sept. 11 against the Minnesota Vikings?

    “I wouldn't say I'm not going to think about it (Friday) because I'm going to think about it,” Goodman said. “But when you put your best foot forward and leave everything out on the field, that makes it easier to sleep at night. I think I put my best foot forward and took advantage of a lot of opportunities I had.”

    The list of players in their shoes goes on.

    Laurent Robinson, a veteran deep-threat wide receiver, improved his stock arguably the most Thursday night. He converted all six of his targets for a game-high 120 yards. He had three grabs of 20 or more yards, including ones for 37- and 26-yard gains.

    His chance to make a dent in the Chargers coaching staff's decisions likely already expired, but it was the type of performance that can catch one of the 31 other NFL teams' eyes.

    Middle linebacker Stephen Cooper has spent the past two weeks testing whether he can successfully play through a torn biceps injury.

    Now, the nine-year veteran joins others on the roster bubble.

    “Individually, my arm doesn't bother me,” Cooper said. “I still feel like I can make plays and help this defense win games. All I can do is go out there and play as hard as I can, and that's what I did.

    "Now the coaches can watch the film and make their decision … I'm not the judge and jury. All I can do is wait and see what happens.”

    Cut day is coming.