Chargers HC Brandon Staley Breaks Down First Cut Down Day

Cut down day.
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The Chargers released their initial 53-man roster on Tuesday afternoon. The reason why it is initial is that they could go through waiver wire and release someone. It takes 24 hours for the waiver wire process to start.

There were some surprises on the 53-man roster. This was also the first cut-down day for Chargers head coach Brandon Staley. So, here are some of the takeaways from the press conference.

Two undrafted free agents

One of the Stone Cold stunners was that Arkansas State's Forrest Merrill made the initial 53-man roster. A betting man would have put his money down on Cortez Broughton or Breiden Fehoko. Merrill showed a lot of push during training camp and was able to rise the latter. He will most likely serve as the backup to Linval Joseph and could be a nice piece for the defense. He swallowed double teams often during camp and gave linebackers a free avenue.

"There was production, and there wasn't just a guy who was doing the right thing," explained Staley. "This guy was making plays, too. So just felt like he was kind of our style a guy, he's still got a long way to go. But felt like there was a player there that we wanted to work with."

The other was linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga from Oklahoma State. Many draft experts were stunned that he wasn't drafted, so that was the Chargers gain. Right away, he was being used on special teams and seemed to fit right in.

Staley pointed out that when one of the starting linebackers didn't practice, they would have the rookie step in.

"We just feel like there's a product to work with there, not only as a linebacker but on special teams, that he can be a big factor in those interior core jobs on special teams," explained Staley. "He's the right guy to be coaching, from a developmental standpoint."

Kicking battle…finally done

The Chargers brass decided to go with Tristan Vizcaino as their starting kicker. They released Michael Badgley after three seasons with the team. He started as the front runner but had some close encounters.

"It's a dream come true," said Vizcaino. "I grew up 40 minutes down the road, and it's been a long journey getting a starting spot in the NFL. For it to be with the team I grew up loving is amazing. I'm extremely excited to be here."

The kicker finished camp in a log rolling competition with Badgley. He even missed a 47-yarder a week after Badgley made a 50-yarder at SoFi Stadium. It didn't matter.

"This guy's got real, real talent," said Staley. "This guy's got real leg strength. We feel like he's got a lot of ability, and he's at the beginning of his football journey. We felt like there's a product in there that if we can continue to tap into that development, that there's just a really talented player there."

Two receivers gone

One of the most surprising cuts had to be receiver Tyron Johnson. The receiver made a name for himself last season, catching long passes. His first breakdown game was against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week four.

He went output on a show catching a 53-yard touchdown. He has a down-the-field receiver for the Chargers. He averaged 19.9 yards a game.

"I think we have a really deep receiver room," said Staley. "There's a lot of competition, and I think that it's just one of those things where it's more numbers, not so much how we feel about him as a player, because I got a lot of respect for his game."

The other receiver let go was Joe Reed. He was drafted in the fifth round of last years draft. There was potential with Reed. It seemed like he will be a total package player. They lined him up at running back, receiver, slot receiver, and kickoff returner.

He had an injury that slowed him down during camp.

"Where we were at with receiver, and where we are at with returner, just didn't feel like that was going to be the direction for us," explained Staley. "It's not over for him. He's a good player. He still has his career out in front of him. Hopefully, we can get him healthy here and see where it goes."

PipkINs?

There has been a lot of conversation on whether Trey Pipkins will be a member of the 53-man roster. He was. It is because the Chargers believe in him. He is a former third-round pick, and if history has taught us anything, the team will continue developing him.

It has been two years of him being on the Chargers, and his development has been inconsistent. He is going into year three, and the growth hasn't been seen, especially during the preseason games.

The team is sticking with him.

"Although he's had some tough moments that I think a lot of people have seen, there's been other moments where we feel like, 'Hey, you know, there's still more in there that we can tap into,' so we're just going to hang off with him," said Staley. "He certainly has to improve, but we feel like he gives us depth at that position that we feel like we'll need moving forward."

Roster tinkering

This is the initial 53-man roster. Changes can still happen to the roster.

"We're just at the beginning of this whole process," said Staley. "There's so much time between now and our first game, and there's a lot of ways to manipulate and shape your roster, and we plan on fully exploring all those avenues."