Chargers announce first unofficial Depth Chart

With their opening preseason game days away, the Los Angeles Chargers have released their first unofficial depth chart of the 2022 season. While most of the starters will not play in Saturday night's game at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood at 7 p.m. against the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, the game will give Charger fans a chance to see some of the starters.

The Chargers staged their first intrasquad scrimmage of the 2022 season on Sunday evening at Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, giving the fans in attendance an early opportunity to see most of the starters in action. Below is a list of the current starters on offense and defense:

OFFENSE Quarterback Starter: Justin Herbert Running back Starter: Austin Ekeler Fullback Starter: Zander Horvath or Gabe Nabers Tight end Starter: Gerald Everett Offensive tackles Starters: Rashawn Slater (LT); Storm Norton or Trey Pipkins III (RT) Interior offensive linemen Starters: Matt Feiler (LG), Corey Linsley (C) and Zion Johnson (RG)

DEFENSE Interior defensive linemen Starters: Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson and Jerry Tillery Outside linebacker Starters: Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack Inside linebacker Starters: Kyle Van Noy and Drue Tranquill Cornerback Starters: J.C. Jackson and Asante Samuel, Jr. Safety Starters: Derwin James, Jr., and Nasir Adderley

On offense, there is a tight battle going on at right tackle between Storm Norton and Trey Pipkins III. Norton started 15 games at right tackle last season. He struggled at times last season, particularly in the final game of the 2021 season against defensive end Maxx Crosby of the Las Vegas Raiders. The Chargers will take on the Raiders in the season opener at SoFi Stadium. Pipkins, a Charger third round pick in 2019 from the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota, has started 10 games in three seasons at tackle, both right and left tackle.

This is a big season for Pipkins because he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Another player to watch on the offensive line is backup tackle Foster Sarell, an undrafted tackle out of Stanford. Sarell is listed as the backup left tackle to Rashawn Slater and at Sunday's practice was also playing right tackle. Sarell was a five-star tackle out of Washington and the top ranked tackle in America coming out of high school. Maybe the Chargers can help him recapture the magic he had in high school.

Rookie fullback Zander Horvath, a 7th round pick out of Purdue, looked good at fullback and could become the starter. He will also need to play well on special teams. Running back Joshua Kelly looks different in camp this year and he could win that #2 spot at running back. Charger head coach Brandon Staley sees improvement in Kelly, the former 4th round draft pick out of UCLA.

"As a player, I think that he's just become a more complete back," Staley said. "Physically, he really has come in in outstanding shape. I think he's much stronger, much more compact, and has done a really good job earning our players' trust in pass protection. Then, running the football, making people miss, breaking tackles, being physical on contact. He's been very steady, very steady. I'm excited to see him live in this preseason."

The 11-on-11 practice turned out well for the Chargers passing attack, with all three quarterbacks looking in mid-season form. Staley had nice things to say about all three quarterbacks, starter Herbert, backup quarterback Chase Daniel, a 12-year veteran, and #3 quarterback Easton Stick, in his fourth season.

"I thought all three of our quarterbacks today operated at a high level," said Staley. "I thought they both threw the ball extremely well, were accurate and made good decisions. They really moved the team. I really love this quarterback room. They're really good friends. They continue to improve, even Chase is continuing to improve. I thought you saw Easton do a lot of good things out there today. Easton really thrives in 11-on-11. I was just really happy with how all three guys moved the team today."

The wide receiver group also looked outstanding on Sunday. The battle for roster spots will be intense. Second-year wide receiver Josh Palmer, a third round pick last season from Tennessee, is clearly the #3 wide receiver, with Jalen Guyton, DeAndre Carter, Jason Moore, Jr., Michael Bandy, Maurice Ffrench and Trevon Bradford in a battle for the final roster spots.

Bandy and Bradford looked good on Sunday night, but it is Carter that continues to impress, catching everything thrown his way and consistently getting separation. Staley had plenty to say about Carter, who also returns punts and kickoffs.

"Our guys like throwing to him, it's been that way since the springtime," Staley said. "He has fit right in. He's an outstanding teammate, versatile player, and plays in a lot of places. Then, in the return game, he has been a stud. He's going to be a guy that makes an impact on our team. He is much more than just a return guy. Our quarterbacks have ultimate faith in him. I know that our coaches have ultimate faith in him. He's been one of those pleasant surprises for us."

On the defensive line, the Chargers are noticeably stronger inside. Two of the players that look good are former Ram defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and rookie defensive tackle Otito Ogbonna, a 5th round pick from the UCLA Bruins. Staley described Joseph-Day as, "one of the top interior defenders in the league. We brought him here because he's made up of all the right stuff. He's an intense competitor. He loves the work. That's what we're looking for, is to be a line-of-scrimmage team. You need guys like Sebastian in order to be that."

"I think Otito has come in and really fit right in with that group of guys up front," Staley said. "I think anytime that you're a young D-lineman, you're trying to fit in with your teammates. He's shown that he can hold his own out here. He just needs to keep improving. I like his mindset, though. He's been a guy that we're sure glad we drafted."

The Chargers have listed outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy as a starter at inside linebacker due to unavailability of starter Kenneth Murray, who is on the PUP list (Physically Unable to Perform List). That does not seem like a long-term solution to Murray's absence, if he does not recover by the start of the regular season. Star safety Derwin James is still a contract holdout, although he is at camp.

The Chargers will take on the Rams this Saturday Night, August 13th, at SoFi Stadium in a game that will begin at 7:00 pm local time. The game will be televised on KCBS-TV. This will be the first of two battles this season with the Rams at Sofi Stadium, with the second coming on January 1, 2023, in a Sunday Night game. The Chargers are the home team in both games.


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