Final Chargers 53-man roster prediction: Who will make the cut?

NFL teams face a deadline of 1 p.m. PDT Tuesday for cutting their rosters to 53 players.

All those cut can be added to practice squads after clearing waivers. Any player claimed must be added to the claiming team’s 53-man roster.

Here’s one projection of what things will look like for the Chargers:

Quarterbacks (3) — Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick

Daniel was re-signed in March to remain Herbert’s backup. Now 35 and going into his 13th season, Daniel appeared over the past month to solidify his standing as the team’s No. 2 quarterback entering Week 1.

It’s understandable that some fans wonder about Stick’s value, given how little — one career game — he has played since being drafted in the fifth round in 2019. Stick was active for one game last season and did not appear.

But the coaching staff raves about Stick’s intelligence and how much he means to the operation as a whole. With so much internal support, it’s hard to imagine him not being on the 53-man roster.

Running backs (4) — Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller, Larry Rountree III

With his performance Friday in New Orleans, Kelley likely wrapped up the No. 2 spot behind Ekeler, who’s looking to build on a 20-touchdown season from a year ago.

Backing up Ekeler still could very well remain a fluid situation throughout the season as the Chargers continue to try to develop all three of their other running backs.

It was tempting to go with only three at this position, with Rountree on the outside. But because Spiller is dealing with an ankle injury and might not be available in Week 1, the Chargers have to cover themselves.

Fullbacks (1) — Zander Horvath

As training camp wound down, Horvath’s special teams participation ramped up. The Chargers would love for him to become a dependable contributor in their kick coverage.

Beyond that, who knows? Fullback Gabe Nabers was active for 10 games last season and played only 46 offensive snaps.

Chargers wide receiver DeAndre Carter runs after making a catch against the New Orleans Saints on Friday.

Chargers wide receiver DeAndre Carter runs after making a catch against the New Orleans Saints on Friday.

(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

Wide receivers (5) — Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joshua Palmer, Jalen Guyton, DeAndre Carter

As good as Michael Bandy was in the preseason, the Chargers’ five wide receiver spots appeared to be set from the first hamstring stretch of training camp.

The roster-wide math makes it nearly impossible to keep a sixth receiver, especially when what Bandy offers the Chargers already have. He would seem to be a slam dunk for the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Tight ends (3) — Gerald Everett, Donald Parham Jr., Tre’ McKitty

The only real question among these three is if Parham will be ready for the start of the season as he recovers from a hamstring injury suffered in early August.

Hunter Kampmoyer likely is headed to the practice squad as insurance. Then again, Kampmoyer fumbled in the game Friday, and the Chargers could look to add a tight end from the waiver wire.

Again, though, adding a fourth tight end from another team would mean cutting someone who otherwise would be on the Chargers’ 53.

Offensive linemen (9) — Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, Zion Johnson, Trey Pipkins III, Storm Norton, Will Clapp, Jamaree Salyer, Brenden Jaimes

Pipkins beat out Norton for the starting right tackle spot, leaving Norton as the swing tackle going into the season.

Clapp is the backup to Linsley at center and Salyer and Jaimes are both reserve interior players.

The right side of the line will be closely monitored, with Johnson just a rookie and Pipkins inexperienced as a starter.

Defensive linemen (6) — Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, Morgan Fox, Jerry Tillery, Christian Covington, Otito Ogbonnia

There was some thought heading into training camp that Tillery could be in danger of being cut. That no longer appears to be a possibility, though his role will be diminished in a much deeper rotation to start this season.

Breiden Fehoko beating out Covington is a real possibility given how well Fehoko played in training camp and the preseason games. The two of them started Friday and played slightly more than half the defensive snaps.

Edge rushers (3) — Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Chris Rumph II

Because of injuries at linebacker, Kyle Van Noy played inside almost exclusively throughout training camp. With Kenneth Murray Jr. returning last week, the Chargers can play Van Noy on the edge now too.

The veteran’s flexibility was something the Chargers touted after signing him in free agency and something they will attempt to exploit this season — unless injuries dictate otherwise.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara tries to break a tackle by Chargers linebacker Nick Niemann.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara tries to break a tackle by Chargers linebacker Nick Niemann during the Chargers’ preseason loss Friday.

(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

Linebackers (6) — Kyle Van Noy, Drue Tranquill, Kenneth Murray Jr., Troy Reeder, Nick Niemann, Amen Ogbongbemiga

Murray has said he “absolutely” will be ready for the start of the season after undergoing ankle surgery in April. He has been a productive tackler when healthy.

Niemann and Ogbongbemiga have been working with the team’s top kick-coverage units, strongly suggesting both will make the season-opening roster. Reeder also should be a special teams regular.

Cornerbacks (5) — J.C. Jackson, Michael Davis, Bryce Callahan, Asante Samuel Jr., Ja’Sir Taylor

Jackson might miss the start of the season after having a procedure on his right ankle. The Chargers have announced that, at worst, he’d be unavailable for Weeks 1 and 2.

The odd man out here is Deane Leonard, a seventh-round draft choice who struggled in the Chargers’ preseason opener and now is dealing with a hamstring injury.

Safeties (5) — Derwin James Jr., Nasir Adderley, Alohi Gilman, Mark Webb Jr., JT Woods

Webb has a ton of support among the Chargers coaches, which led to his inclusion here despite the persistent injuries that have marked his NFL career to date.

He missed the end of training camp because of a calf issue but still offers the versatility that head coach Brandon Staley covets.

Woods will have to develop quickly if he’s going to be a contributor early on as a rookie. His tackling remained an issue Friday in New Orleans.

Specialists (3) — Dustin Hopkins, JK Scott, Josh Harris

These three spots have been set since the Chargers opened training camp.

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