Chase Daniel stood on the sideline checking on his jammed finger while Easton Stick took snaps under center during the second drive of Saturday’s preseason finale against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field.
Daniel wasn’t supposed to be pulled by the Chargers until the second half, but the 13th-year quarterback got hit on the seventh play.
Daniel likely could have called it a night and banked on his experience and familiarity with the Chargers’ coaching staff, but his competitive side got him to return to the game.
Stick and Daniel are battling to be Justin Herbert’s backup and possibly for a roster spot if the Chargers decide to only keep two quarterbacks come Tuesday’s 1 p.m. deadline to trim the roster to 53 players.
But Daniel didn’t help himself much by returning to a first half filled with missed blocks, tackles and field goals for the Chargers. Stick replaced Daniel for a second time with the Chargers down 17-0 with three minus left in the first half. The Chargers lost 27-0.
Daniel versus Stick, however, wasn’t the only positional battle that got off to a rocky start. Tristan Vizcaino missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter to allow Michael Badgley back in the race to be the Chargers’ kicker.
Daniel jammed his finger after Seahawks linebacker Cody Barton blitzed through the middle of the Chargers’ offensive line to record a strip sack and allow safety Marquise Blair to scoop the ball for a touchdown return and a 7-0 advantage for Seattle with 12:30 in the first quarter.
Daniel played with the injured hand and struggled to get the offense going in the first half. He finished the game 9 of 12 with 70 yards.
“Watching reps is huge, especially going into the film room after the game with Chase and Easton, watching the film and going over the practices,” Herbert told the TV broadcast.
The Chargers will need to decide if their quarterback room will get smaller for film sessions with Herbert come cutdown day.
Many of the Chargers’ top players didn’t participate in the three preseason games, including Herbert, edge rusher Joey Bosa, safety Derwin James, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
The Chargers were thin at wide receiver with only Josh Palmer, Tyron Johnson, John Hurst and Michael Bandy available to play. Wide receivers K.J. Hill, Jason Moore, Joe Reed and Jalen Guyton were out with injuries. Johnson had four receptions for 41 yards midway through the third quarter.
Hill and Reed, two wideouts drafted by the Chargers last season, are likely on the roster bubble with Allen, Williams, Palmer, Johnson and Guyton probably ahead of them on the depth chart.
But Hill might not have to worry because he started the first two preseason games as the Chargers’ kickoff and punt returner. Reed hasn’t practiced in nearly two weeks because of an ankle injury.
The Chargers could decide to bet on Reed’s upside as a versatile playmaker who can contribute in the backfield and as a kick returner. But Reed had a quiet rookie season and has struggled to impress the new coaching staff this summer.
If the Chargers decide to keep less than seven wide receivers, that could create an opportunity for camp standouts and defensive tackles Breiden Fehoko and Forrest Merrill.
But the Chargers could be set on the interior of the defensive line with Justin Jones, Jerry Tillery, Christian Covington and Cortez Broughton.
The Chargers might be set with their second offensive line, but offensive tackles Trey Pipkins and Storm Norton delivered another shaky preseason performance versus the Seahawks. If the Chargers decide Pipkins and Norton aren’t the answers to back up offensive tackles Rashawn Slater and Bryan Bulaga, that could create opportunities for others.
The Chargers are two and a half days away from deciding on their roster battles.
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