Presenting your 2018 Los Angeles Chargers.
It's been a whirlwind weekend for General Manager Tom Telesco.
Like every team, the Chargers were required to trim their roster down to 53 by 1:00pm PT on Saturday. The Bolts then spent the rest of the day parsing through over 1,000 names of those let go around the NFL, trying to identify players they felt could reinforce the roster.
The Chargers ended up adding two new defensive additions off waivers as a result in LB Emmanuel Ellerbee and DT T.Y. McGill.
Oh, and the team also happened to bring back one of the greatest players in franchise and NFL history in Antonio Gates. The tight end agreed to terms early in the morning to return for his 16th season with the Bolts.
While it's been a hectic couple of days, Telesco took time on Sunday to speak with the media about the team's flurry of activity. Here's what he had to say:
About Antonio – Number 85 will get a chance to add to the numerous franchise records he already holds, including receptions, receiving yards, TD catches and more. However, that's not why Gates is returning. Telesco explained how bringing back the tight end was something both Gates and the Bolts had explored for a while, and what impressed him most is the future Hall of Famer's belief that this can be a special year for the Chargers:
"I'm grateful (that) he's coming back for all the right reasons. He's not coming back to put up more statistics. He's not coming back to prove anything to anybody because he doesn't have to do that. But he's coming back because he loves his teammates, and I think that he sees something special in this football team that he wants to be a part of. And that's exciting. That's a position right now where we can certainly use him, so we're grateful to get it done and have him back here."
Caleb at Kicker – Caleb Sturgis and Roberto Aguayo were mighty impressive this summer as they battled it out to be the Bolts' kicker. In the end, the Chargers went with Sturgis. Telesco cited it as an easy decision based on the way he's come on strong these past couple weeks. At the same time, he was effusive in his praise for Aguayo:
"What was nice is that both guys kicked very well, and that makes the decision even a little bit easier. Caleb has really come on the last three weeks. Kicked very well in practice. He's been money in practice. He's been about 20-for-20 in the last three times he kicked with 11-on-11 in practice. The kickoffs have been really good. He has a strong leg. And I'm also really proud of Roberto and how he came in here. He really competed hard for the job. He kicked very well. I think he's bounced back from the last couple teams that he was with that he didn't make. He's very mature. He handled it very well. It's good to see. I thought both guys kicked very well, but we went with Caleb and we're comfortable with him. We're excited about having a kicker out there that can help us both with kickoffs and putting the ball through the uprights."
The New Guys –There will be two new faces on the field at Hoag Performance Center when the Bolts prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs this week in Ellerbee and McGill. The GM went in depth on why the team coveted both players, providing a brief scouting report on the newest Chargers:
"Emmanuel Ellerbee, linebacker from the Atlanta Falcons; he's smart, fast and pretty physical. So those are the three things that stood out. He had a really good preseason with the Falcons. It's a bonus that he's played in a scheme similar to ours, and (he was) very well-coached at Atlanta. Anybody who plays defense for a Dan Quinn team and Jeff Ulbrich is usually very well-coached. So he has a lot of qualities that we think can help us both at linebacker and on special teams. And then T.Y. McGill. We were looking for some depth there at defensive tackle with Corey (Liuget) going on a suspension and the fact Justin Jones hasn't worked the last couple weeks. So we wanted to get some depth there with T.Y. (and he's) very quick and explosive. (A) high motor defensive tackle, and he can help us right now in the interior. Not sure right now when, (but) we'll get him up to speed and kind of go from there."
Still High on Cardale – In order to make room for the new additions, the Chargers had to waive a pair of players, including Cardale Jones. The decision was largely based on opting to go with two quarterbacks instead of three. In fact, Telesco offered a lot of praise about Jones while also expressing a desire to bring him back into the fold perhaps on the practice squad:
"(We) definitely saw growth and development from last year when we brought him in. Saw that development through the offseason program (and) saw it in training camp. It's difficult to go with three quarterbacks. We did last year, and we still may at some point this year, but at least for right now we're going to go with two on the active and then hopefully one on the practice squad."
A Tough Blow for Artavis – Artavis Scott was in the midst of a strong training camp and preseason when he was carted off the field in the final game against the San Francisco 49ers with an ankle injury. Unfortunately, it required him being put on the Reserve/Injured list, meaning the wideout will miss the entire 2018 campaign. It was a tough blow for the Bolts as Telesco suggested Scott had done enough to make the team. However, now we'll have to wait until 2019 to see him on the field again:
"(It's) unfortunate (because) he had earned a spot on this team and had done a great job. When I was talking to him last year at this time, we thought he could play. But after this training camp, we know he can play. Outside receiver. Inside receiver. He can return kicks and punts. Work as a gunner. (He) really came along last year on the practice squad. He got a full year there of development. He was going to contribute this year for us. So that was difficult to see. I know he was really disappointed, as we were, too. But this ends up being a redshirt year for him, and we'll get him back next year. He can compete for time next year, but he did a really nice job for us in camp."