Dirty Dozen: Roster Cuts

Training camp consisted of 80+ players on the San Diego Chargers roster. With game three in the books, the team must trim their roster down to 65 players and NFLE roster exemptions Luke Butkus, Seth Burford and Scott Pospisil get a stay of execution. Twelve players must go and Saturday in Houston was the final day to make an impression. Sunday the Chargers were off, but management was hard at work figuring out who the twelve are that must go.

Benefit of the Doubt:

Some guys in camp have been hurt and have shown the coaching staff enough to get past that first cut. A week from now, they will not have the luxury as the team will have to again make cuts and field the best 53 man roster it can.

Kassim Osgood gets a free pass on this one as he showed enough in training camp to warrant a further look. An injury has set him back at a time he could have wrapped up the fifth wide receiver spot. Last week he returned to practice, but was unable to catch anything with his hand still bandaged up (thumb). He did make one handed attempts, and worked hard on his route running and conditioning while he was out. This week could be a make or break week for Osgood.

"He has a great work ethic too, and all those things go a long way," said San Diego State Head Coach Tom Craft. "A big guy like that a lot of times it is easy to get a piece of him but I think that he really worked on his footwork and his hand speed to enable him to get off the line of scrimmage"

Dondre Gilliam has been stellar through camp. Despite his height at 6', he has been the most consistent camp receiver battling for #5 or #6. Then an injury (knee) settled in that robbed him of exposure and he could be the forgotten man. He will get by the first round of cuts as he has every year. Every day during practice he stayed after to catch a few balls with Cleo Lemon. He was even running routes, without pads, and making the spectacular catches that have become common. It will be hard to let this guy go.

Kris Dielman was carted off the field in Seattle with an ankle injury and was just coming on as a potential future Charger. He has the non-stop motor to compete in this league and needs time to develop. Time is one thing that is running short and Dielman must continue to shine. With limited opportunities due to his ankle injury, Dielman now needs to show the flashes of dominance were not just flashes, but the norm. A practice squad spot is not out of the question for Dielman as he got back on the field in Houston.

"He has only had one year on defense," said Indiana Coach Gerry DiNardo. "I think there is tremendous upside. Kris has tremendous intensity, tremendous work habits, and he was voted our captain, overwhelmingly voted our captain by the team."

The signs are there:

Limited exposure and not doing enough with that exposure will send some guys packing. We can't know what the San Diego Chargers brass is thinking as they veil their comments continuously and make even the first guy to get cut sound great, but we will give a stab at the first 12 to get cut this week.

Guys who didn't play this week are packing already:

DeMarco McCleskey, Kevin Breedlove, Alex Tuttle and Jeremy McDaniel all go. They did not see the field on Saturday and that is an ominous sign. Seth Burford also did not see the field but benefits from his roster exemption and it is just that reason that he was held out, he has a week left.

Other NFLE guys:

Luke Butkus and Scott Pospisil have not had many chances and with NFLE experience they get to stay and show their wears this coming weekend.

Medical Watch:

Antoineo Harris goes to injured reserve as does Tim Baker. Hiding them on IR for the season will allow them to go to Europe next season, that is, if there is a NFL Europe. Harris tore an ACL on August 11th and had surgery the next day. Baker suffered a knee injury (originally called a sprained MCL) on Saturday in Houston, has now been termed a ruptured ACL. They could of course just offer them an injury settlement and be on their way.

Six to go:

Cedric Henry came into a crowded room of young cornerbacks and will not stick through the week.

Jordan Kramer did not distinguish himself enough to warrant a further look.

"You don't expect people to run that fast and change direction that fast and make up so much ground," said Idaho Head Coach Tom Cable. "But he has the ability to do that."

Brian Sump had to make a little more happen in limited opportunities. He did not stand out as other receivers have despite a strong early camp. Not using him on kick returns was just odd.

"Brian brings the intangibles," said Colorado School of Mines Coach Bob Stitt. "Just a great worker."

Stephen Cooper would be perfect in the Houston Texans scheme, but in the Chargers defense he is a tweener at linebacker.

"He was really the focal point of everything we did defensively," said Richard Nagy, his defensive coordinator at Maine. "He is physically a very gifted player."

Two surprises at the end:

These guys are vets but the youth on the team is knocking at the door at every angle and the Chargers will release these guys to give them an opportunity elsewhere. The nominees are: Cory Raymer, Joey Goodspeed, Michael Keathley, Bob Hallen, Doug Sims and Carlos Polk. Two among those will go.

These are just one man's opinion and in no way reflect what the Chargers brass may be thinking, or do they? Watching game tapes and common sense has led to some of this. Others may be reaches, we won't know until the bell rings on Tuesday.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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