Chargers’ Daniel, Stick still vying to be Herbert’s backup
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco have very few questions to settle heading into the Los Angeles Chargers’ preseason finale against the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night. But determining who will back up quarterback Justin Herbert remains unclear.
Chase Daniel will start and play the first half, with Easton Stick coming in for the third and fourth quarters. It is the same rotation used in the preseason opener against the Los Angeles Rams two weeks ago.
Daniel, who is in his 13th season, has led the Chargers to a pair of field goals in 11 drives against the Rams and San Francisco 49ers. Stick, a fifth-round pick by the Chargers in 2019, has had more success with a pair of touchdowns and a field goal.
While Stick has performed better in games, he has struggled at times in practice. After nearly a month of training camp, Staley said Saturday’s game is one piece in the evaluation process.
“We have a lot of data tracking all of these practices. We feel like it’s going to give us a full evaluation on these guys,” Staley said. “I’m proud of the way that both guys have handled this entire training camp, the entire offseason. I think that they’ve truly made each other better.”
Daniel has completed 64.4% of his passes but is 7 of 16 on passes of 6 yards or more. Stick is second among NFL quarterbacks who have played two preseason games with an 81% completion rate and is 4 of 6 on passes of 6 yards or more. He has also been sacked five times, including once for a safety.
Stick had one of the Chargers’ best plays of the preseason when he scrambled toward the right sideline, eluded three San Francisco defenders and found Josh Palmer in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard TD.
Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said those plays only show up in games.
“In real life, it’s not done until you get tackled,” he said. “It’s a little like we talked about with the running backs. Sometimes you don’t know exactly until it’s live. I think that’s similar with the quarterbacks. It’s fun to watch them make those plays.”
Daniel has the experience edge and knowledge of Lombardi’s scheme from his time in New Orleans. But when it comes to any competition on the depth chart, he is more focused on the other guys in the huddle than himself.
“This third preseason game means a lot to the last three, four guys to make the team. Whether it’s special teams, offense, or defense, these snaps matter. I never want to get into a position — even 13 years in — where I’m not giving it my all for the other guys on the team,” he said.
The Chargers have traditionally kept three quarterbacks on the roster, but this might be the year when they go down to two due to depth concerns on the defensive line and secondary. Staley did not want to say how many spots were up for grabs when the roster needs to be reduced to 53 by 1 p.m. PDT on Tuesday, but said a lot can still happen over the next couple days.
“I think what you have to do is try to put the very best 53 — the combination of 53 guys. Not the most talented 53, but the best 53. The right 53,” he said. “I think that math can happen in a lot of different ways. I think, as you guys know, there’s a lot of different models out there.”
Besides backup quarterback, the other position commanding the most attention is kicker. Michael Badgley and Tristan Vizcaino appear to be on equal footing. Badgley has been the Chargers’ kicker since 2018.
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