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Chargers release, add players
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SAN DIEGO – San Diego released five players Tuesday to meet the 75-player maximum required by the NFL.
The Chargers waived receiver Gary Banks, linebacker Darry Beckwith, guard Lee Grimes and running back Marcus Mason.
The team released defensive lineman Ryon Bingham and placed inside linebacker Donald Butler on Reserve/Injured. Butler injured his Achilles during training camp.
San Diego also claimed cornerback Fred Bennett off waivers from the Houston Texans and signed punter Glenn Pakulak.
“We know we’re deep at defensive line. We knew it was going to be a great competition and it wasn’t intention to do it now,” Head Coach Norv Turner said of Bingham, who played 49 games for the Chargers. “We had a corner that we liked that we could claim so we made the move now.”
Turner also said he respects what Banks has done in San Diego as a practice squad member the last two years, but wanted a more extended chance to evaluate three undrafted receivers in Thursday’s preseason finale.
Bennett, a fourth-round pick in 2007, has played in 40 career games, started 17 and made 123 tackles, five interceptions, 21 passes defensed and four forced fumbles. He played in 10 games for Houston last season and started three.
The 30-year-old Pakulak played in 10 career games with the Saints and Redskins in ’08 and ’09 and averaged 44.4 yards per punt. His net average is 36.2 yards.
Pakulak earned the Mosi Tatupu Award given to the nation’s best special teams player as a senior at the University of Kentucky. He averaged 45.6 yards per punt and ranked third in the nation during the ’02 season.
EXPANDED ROLE: Steve Gregory has played with the first-team defense ahead of special teams hawk Quinton Teal and rookie Darrell Stuckey, who dealt with a groin injury during training camp.
At 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, Gregory is the smallest of the three. He’s two inches shorter than Antoine Cason and an inch and nine pounds lighter than Quentin Jammer, San Diego’s starting cornerbacks.
“He’s really playing fast. You can see a guy that knows exactly what he’s doing,” Head Coach Norv Turner said. “He got a lot of experience last year playing in that nickel package. The confidence carries over to playing on first and second down.”
Known for his versatility to play both safety and cornerback, Gregory made a career-best 71 tackles last season and added two sacks, an interception and six passes defensed.
Yet he’s seen the field more than 11 of the 12 other members of the secondary during the preseason and leads the position with 10 total tackles in three games.
“I’m not really surprised,” Gregory said. “I just approach it day by day. I just go out and work hard and wherever the chips fall, they fall. That’s always been my approach.”
GUARDED OPTIMISM: Kevin Burnett doesn’t think the defense’s approach is markedly different this season. For all the talk of a more aggressive, attacking attitude, Burnett said that rhetoric persists every year.
Instead, he rests the chances for improvement on better execution. That’s something he’s witnessed through three preseason games, though New Orleans churned to more yards than he would’ve liked thanks to several big plays.
“Any time you give up 500 yards of offense it’s a concern. This is football. Nobody likes to lose. I don’t care if it’s preseason or regular season,” he said.
“(But) right now as a defense we’re playing our game. Same calls, same guys running it, it’s (just) a fact of us executing. It’s like walking. The more you walk you start to lose weight. We’re trimming away the fat and becoming a better football team.”
The Saints game skewed some of the numbers, but San Diego entered the contest with dominating performances against Chicago and Dallas. Even after New Orleans, the defense particularly has produced good numbers against the run, allowing just 12 first downs in three games.
“Nobody knows how good we’re going to be. If we execute we’ll be good. If we don’t execute we’ll be a mediocre, middle of the pack football team,” Burnett said of the defense. “It’s time for us to step up to the plate and actually do what we’re capable of doing.
“We don’t have to be the best out of 32 teams on any given week. We just have to be the best team on the field that day.”
PRACTICE WEATHER: Sunny, 76 degrees. Read