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Tom Telesco Opens Up About Roster Decisions

Presenting your 2017 Los Angeles Chargers.

It's been a whirlwind 24 hours for the Los Angeles Chargers.

It started Saturday at 1:00pm, when the Bolts announced 37 transactions to get down to the 53-man limit.  The team spent the rest of the day parsing through over 1,100 players released by other teams, putting claims in on those they felt could help bolster the roster.

They ended up getting two new players in guard Michael Schofield and cornerback Jeff Richards. 

The Chargers also signed the first seven members of their practice squad, and placed several other players on the reserve/injured list.

While there is still work to be done, General Manager Tom Telesco took some time to open up about the flurry of activity:

Mike Williams Update – While Williams missed all of training camp and the preseason on PUP with a back injury, the Bolts named him to the 53-man active roster.  Had he stayed on PUP, the wideout would have missed at least the first six weeks of the season.  However, don't expect to see Williams come game day right away.  The GM chimed in on the decision to activate him from PUP, providing an update on the seventh overall pick:

"Obviously it's encouraging that he's on the 53-man roster right now and not PUP, so that's positive.  We'll just stay with the plan that's been put in place.  I would say he's still a couple weeks away from practicing.  He'll do more this week and the following week as far as what he's doing on the side.  That will continue to progress.  And then we'll gradually start working him into practice after that.  We still have several weeks in front of us.  It's not only rehabbing injury, he has to get back and ready in football condition again. Running routes.  The timing. Learning the offense and everything like that, so there is still some work in front of him.  But obviously it's very encouraging where he is right now.  Hopefully it just continues to be positive steps."

Where Schofield Fits In – The Chargers lost three offensive linemen to injury over the past month in Forrest Lamp, Tyreek Burwell and Donavon Clark.  Thus, it shouldn't come as a surprise the team reinforced the o-line, jumping on the chance to add a proven commodity in Michael Schofield.  While he has starting experience at numerous positions, Telesco made it clear they see him primarily at guard:

"Michael has played a couple of different spots for Denver.  He played tackle (earlier), and he played guard last year and this preseason.  We're looking at him more as a guard than at tackle, but the fact that he has the versatility is nice.  We're just looking to add depth at the offensive line. As the year goes on, it gets harder and harder to add some good depth at this position.  So if you have the opportunity, the cut to 53 is usually a good place to do that.  He's tough and he's smart.  He's been very durable and accountable there at Denver.  There is carry over between their system and our system, so the transition is relatively smooth."

Why Koo – Head Coach Anthony Lynn called the kicking competition one of the best of the summer.  In the end, undrafted free agent Younghoe Koo beat out the incumbent in Josh Lambo.  Telesco explained why the team made the change:

*"He was consistent with making his kicks.  We like his demeanor.  He also showed a pretty good ability to directionally kickoff.  It was a tough decision.  Actually, it was a very, very difficult decision, but we thought he came in and won the job." *

Another CFL Import – Dontrelle Inman and Dexter McCoil are a pair of CFL imports who've made their mark for the Bolts in recent years.  The team hopes Jeff Richards can make a similar impact.  The cornerback had a noteworthy career in the CFL prior to joining Carolina earlier this year, which is why L.A. claimed the cornerback off waivers from the Panthers:

"He's a big corner.  Over six-foot, 200 pounds.  Long arms.  Showed some pretty good athletic ability and speed.  He played a couple of years in the CFL, where we had seen him as well.  He played on a Grey Cup team and was a starter up there.  We thought he showed pretty well at Carolina this past year, so we're going to work him at corner and go from there."

Moving on From Lowery –Dwight Lowery we released on Saturday after battling Tre Boston for the starting safety job throughout training camp and the preseason.  Even though the team parted ways with the veteran, Telesco made it clear he thinks Lowery has a number of productive years ahead of him:

"That was another one of our really difficult decisions.  You try to do what's best (for) the football team at that moment.  We just felt like we have a pretty deep group at safety. All those guys have done some positive things.  After a lot of discussions, it was a decision we had to make.  But Dwight did an excellent job for us last year.  He's a great, great pro.  Handles himself extremely well. I still think he has football in front of him.  It was a very difficult decision, but we went with the five that we have right now.  We think it's a pretty strong group."

Kudos to the Scouts –As of now, every player selected in the 2017 NFL Draft remains on the roster. Not only that, but the team's rich tradition of unearthing undrafted gems continued as five made the initial 53-man squad.  Telesco explained how much work goes into college scouting, praising the job the team did this year:

*"The roster is never really final, so there still could be some movement moving forward, but the college staff, really it's a ton of work they do throughout the year.  You don't keep guys just because they are draft picks.  You don't try to find college free agents just to say we need a couple to make the team.  These guys all come in and earn it. But a lot of credit has to do with all the guys working on the road.  Our guys are out there right now working on next year's draft.  But they did a lot of work on these players, and worked extremely hard after the draft to try to get these players that had some traits or qualities that we thought (gave them) a chance to make the team.  There's always a reason why players don't get drafted, but you have to look through and see if they have one, two or three things to hang their hat on that would give them a chance to make a team at this level.  So it's a lot of hours, a lot of work, and we can't thank those guys for the work they do.  They do the bulk of the work." *

Work Still to Be Done –Telesco has always stated the roster is a fluid entity.  The team will always look to upgrade talent, so the G.M. hinted more changes could be on the horizon:

"I like where we are right now (but) I still think there's work to do. * *When you talk about the roster, it's never over.  It's never done.  We made two claims today.  There were some other claims we made that we didn't get.  We'll keep working after it and see if anyone else could help us moving forward.  It's a never ending process of trying to get the right team on the field."

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