San Diego Chargers wrap up their preseason at home against San Francisco tonight

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The San Diego Chargers will conclude their preseason at home tonight with a game against the San Francisco 49ers, and although none of the starters are likely to see any action, it’s still a contest that carries huge implications.

At least for those still trying to make the team.

The NFL requires that all teams have their 53 man rosters set by Saturday.  As of this afternoon the Chargers roster was at 80.  That means 27 decisions on who stays and who goes needs to be made within the next two days, and with one game left to prove themselves you can bet those competing for spots will be giving it their all.

“It means a lot to these players to go out an play well,” head coach Norv Turner told  “They’ve put a lot into this training camp.  If it helps them make out football team, that would be very special for them, but it certainly could help them be a part of another team if they end up not making our team, so there’s some of the greatest competition in this game than of any game in the preseason.”

As a team, the Chargers have faired pretty well so far this preseason with a record of 2-1.  In their third game of the preseason last week against the Arizona Cardinals, a game in which the starters played well into the third quarter, Philip Rivers completed 18 of 28 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns.  Antonio Gates added his first touchdown of the season, and Ryan Matthews rushed for 69 yards on 10 carries.

It was also a game that had one of the closest finishes so far this entire preseason, as the Chargers back-up quarterback Billy Volek connected with back-up wide receiver Bryan Walters with three seconds left to go in the game for the go ahead touchdown.  For Walters, one of those players fighting for a roster spot, that’s not a bad way to prove yourself.

Who will step up tonight, and who will be wearing the lightning bolt on their jersey after Saturday is yet to be seen.  According the, here are a few of the players that are right on the cusp of roster inclusion:

Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd and Patrick Crayton are the three obvious choices at receiver, but six other viable options remain on the roster as of now including SDSU’s own Vincent Brown, veterans Kelley Washington and Laurent Robinson, second year man Seyi Ajirotutu, Walters and Richard Goodman, each of which spent most of last season on the practice squad.

Behind starting safeties Eric Weddle and Bob Sanders, a host of players are competing for back-up roles including last year’s fourth round draft pick Darrell Stuckey, Charger veteran Steve Gregory, Quinton Teal and C.J. Wallace.

Although running backs Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert have the position on lock-down, look for this year’s sixth round draft pick Jordan Todman to be running for his professional life tonight as he is trying to make the squad as a back-up.  So far this preseason he has 110 combined rushing and receiving yards and could prove a decent replacement for ex-Charger’s utility man Darren Sproles.

Yes, it’s still the preseason.  And no, the Charger’s starters will not be playing.  But when tonight’s game starts at 7 p.m. tonight, don’t think there won’t be serious competition taking place on the field between guys who want to take the field again next Sunday for the Charger’s first home game against the Minnesota Vikings.

The blackout for tonight’s preseason finale has been lifted so the game will be televised on CBS channel 8 starting at 7 p.m.

photo courtesy of SD Dirk via flickr

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