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Chargers hopefuls eye final audition

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Dombroski among those on the bubble

    By Kevin Acee
    Union-Tribune Staff Writer
    8:06 p.m. September 3, 2009

    SAN DIEGO – Brandyn Dombrowski will, of course, do whatever the Chargers ask. He knows he has more practice squad eligibility remaining. He knows he has a lot to learn.

    But ...

    “I mean, yeah, it's a tough decision there,” Dombrowski said this week. “You have to do what they tell you to do. But I'm trying to work my hardest to make a roster spot.”

    Dombrowski has made the move from guard to left tackle over the past several months, in offseason workouts, training camp practices and the preseason. He played tackle exclusively in the Chargers' most recent exhibition, a full half of work at Atlanta. It appears to be the 6-foot-5, 323-pound San Diego State alum's future.

    “He is really a guy that's improved,” head coach Norv Turner said of Dombrowski, who was undrafted in 2008 and spent last year on the Chargers practice squad. “He's worked as hard as anyone in this organization over the last year and a half.”

    Dombrowski's fate will be decided by Saturday, after he and a couple of dozen other reserves play the bulk of the Chargers' preseason finale against the San Francisco 49ers Friday night at Qualcomm Stadium.

    “It's down to the wire,” Turner said. “There are some hard decisions to make. There are some decisions that will be made based on this game.”

    Really, barring injury Friday night, there really isn't a lot of intrigue left in regard to most of the Chargers' roster – at least as it pertains to Friday's game.

    Defensive end Ryon Bingham appears headed to injured reserve. The acquisition of Travis Johnson to play end likely means Ogemdi Nwagbuo will begin the season on the practice squad. Sixth-round draft pick Kevin Ellison is likely the fifth safety, while undrafted free agent C.J. Spillman will probably be on the practice squad. Fullback Mike Tolbert, with his special teams acumen, has likely earned a spot, and the Chargers will have to regretfully watch tailback Michael Bennett sign elsewhere.

    The Chargers are deciding on a fourth cornerback, and Simeon Castille could well end up on the roster, at least for a time. But the team continues to look elsewhere for a corner, a search that might by Saturday include other teams' castoffs.

    Perhaps the only questions hovering over Friday night's exhibition reside on the offensive line, where the Chargers' decision makers likely have eight players locked in while trying to decide on the final spot from among three players.

    Fourth-round pick Tyronne Green, a guard and center, has shown he deserves a spot, and the cutting of a pick that high is rare, but the decision on whether to keep him on the roster could come down to needing depth at tackle.

    Corey Clark, who has bounced between guard and tackle, is looking for a second year on the roster.

    “It's in your mind all the time,” Clark said of the fact he occupies a spot on the proverbial bubble. “I know my position. Until I'm a starter somewhere, my position on a roster is never secure. It keeps you working hard.”

    While tackle L.J. Shelton struggled in the exhibition opener and has missed the past two weeks with a knee injury, his experience likely keeps him on the roster over the young players.

    But strange things sometimes happen in the final exhibition.

    Dombrowski is hoping and working in case such an event occurs.

    “We're trying to give him an opportunity,” Turner said. “He's played well. He's physical; he's very good. He's trying to catch up. He hasn't played a lot at that position. He's going to get to play a lot of snaps (Friday).”
  2. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Young players to make final cases

    Casey Pearce
    Posted Sep 3, 2009

    Friday’s preseason finale against San Francisco will give a group of young players one last chance to impress their coaches and win a job with the Chargers.

    Chargers wide receiver Charly Martin[​IMG], an undrafted rookie free agent who caught five passes in the team’s preseason opener against Seattle, says he won’t have any trouble falling asleep tonight on the eve of perhaps the biggest night in his young football career.

    “I sleep good at night because I’ve come in and taken advantage of every opportunity I’ve been given,” Martin said. “Sure, I’ve made a few mistakes and done a few things wrong, but adjusting to the NFL level, that’s going to happen. So far I don’t have any regrets.”

    Fellow wide receiver Gary Banks[​IMG], who is in his second summer with the Chargers after spending last season on the team’s practice squad, always has a few “butterflies” the night before a game but will try to keep them at a minimum Friday.

    “I’m going to try to suppress it a little bit, try not to put any added pressure on me,” Banks said. “I want to go out there and be relaxed and perform.”

    By adopting those attitudes, Martin and Banks are following the lead of Head Coach Norv Turner, who along with his staff will get one final look at all the team’s players Friday night before the coaches make some tough decisions. The Chargers conclude their preseason schedule Friday night and must cut 22 players before Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.

    “I think they’re fairly accomplished at what they’re doing,” Turner said of his young players. “Just go out and play and don’t worry about what’s going to happen in terms of if you’re going to make the team or not make the team. If you go relax and play, good things are going to happen.”

    Following Friday night’s preseason finale against the San Francisco 49ers, Turner and his staff will trim the roster from 75 players to 53. On Monday they’ll form an eight-man practice squad. Turner said Wednesday that his starters will play just 12-15 snaps, leaving the young players vying for spots on the active roster and practice squad plenty of time to make their cases.

    “There are a lot of things that are unsettled,” Turner said. “Playing the game and coming in Saturday morning and evaluating it, evaluating everything that’s happened during this training camp will help us make the decisions.

    “We’ve got a good group of young players and I think they’ll put on a good show on Friday night. They’re going to get a lot of reps. They’ll put themselves in a position where they can help themselves.”

    The Chargers return 20 starters as well as all three specialists from their 2008 AFC West champion squad. Many of their core special teams players are back as well, and the team has six draft picks who all hope to stick on the active roster. But Turner has been pleased with the stiff level of competition and believes the decisions he and his staff have to make will be tougher than some may think.

    “There are more spots on our team than people realize that are up for competition,” Turner said. “We have a great mix.”

    Turner said earlier this summer that he and his coaches use practice to prepare the players for games and evaluate players based on their performances under the bright lights. With Friday serving as the final test, young players like defensive lineman Ogemdi Nwagbuo[​IMG] know what’s on the line.

    “You’ve got to show that you can take it from the practice field to the games, and this is it,” said Nwagbuo, who spent part of the 2008 season on San Diego’s practice squad. “It’s your last chance to show what you can do before the coaches decide if you’re staying or going. It’s a big night.”

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