With an expanded practice squad, more attention is on the 16 man group than in previous offseasons. Who could make the LA Chargers’ unit this year?
*Editor’s note: The original version of this article only included 15 players. Derrick Gore was mistakenly omitted.
In July, the NFL officially expanded practice squad size to 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike a usual practice squad, six slots are open to players with any level of playing experience. That’s a bit different than usual and could have an effect on which players are picked.
The LA Chargers will also be able to protect four players from getting picked up by other teams. This could be pretty important if there are future prospects they like more than the rest of the practice squad. Let’s look at who might make the 16 man unit:
FB Bobby Holly
There’s only one fullback spot on the roster for Gabe Nabers or Bobby Holly to take. The way that I see it, the Chargers could lean towards Nabers in final cuts due to his versatility. The coaches have apparently liked both players’ efforts in practice though, so it feels possible that whoever doesn’t make the roster will make the practice squad.
Holly has very good physicality and can be a wrecking ball with some of his blocks. Should Nabers get hit with an injury at some point, I’d love to have him in the fold as a more classic fullback.
QB Easton Stick
A couple of thoughts went through my head here. Unlike last year, Justin Herbert is going to be on the roster as a top draft pick. The Chargers should really be funneling as many practice reps to him as they possibly can. The shortened offseason makes it more important for Herbert to get acclimated to the system as soon as possible.
The Chargers also had Easton Stick taking reps at safety last year. While that might’ve been purely for depth, I just don’t think the Chargers view Stick as a future quarterback option. A preseason like last year’s would’ve allowed the former NDSU standout to earn a roster spot, but things have just radically changed with Herbert in the fold.
RB Derrick Gore
Derrick Gore has reportedly impressed in training camp up to this point, but the three running backs guaranteed to make the roster leave him out of luck.
Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, and Joshua Kelley won’t be pushed for a spot in any capacity. They could create the battle for the practice squad running back slot though. Last week on Hard Knocks, we did see that Darius Bradwell showed up at training camp out of shape.
It’s not the end of the world for Bradwell, but Gore’s athleticism and preparedness gives him a leg up over the former Green Wave running back.