Coaches to test Chargers fighting for roster spots in preseason finale at Seattle

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Inglewood, CA, Sunday, August 22, 2021 - Los Angeles Chargers kicker Tristan Vizcaino (16) before a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
Chargers kicker Tristan Vizcaino, above, is battling incumbent Michael Badgley for a roster spot. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

The Chargers won’t really game plan for Seattle before the teams meet in their preseason finale Saturday night.

But the Chargers will game plan for the Chargers.

In evaluating candidates for the final few unsettled roster spots, coach Brandon Staley explained this week that he and his staff will attempt to scheme situations designed to test those candidates.

“What we’re trying to do is give our guys a game plan where, if there are some questions that we have, we’re able to get them answered,” Staley said. “When we put in the plan for this preseason game, a lot of it is just getting the guys in the right seats so we can get that final evaluation.

“It’s like, ‘Hey, let’s run a couple plays for these guys to see how they do on defense. Let’s put these guys in some tough positions defensively to see them cover or see them rush.’ ”

The result on the scoreboard will matter not one bit, while the results on certain plays could matter in a major way.

Along with sorting out the tail end of the 53-man roster, the Chargers also have to decide on their kicker and backup quarterback.

When healthy, Michael Badgley has been the team’s kicker since the middle of the 2018 season. But he struggled from beyond 45 yards last season and has been battling Tristan Vizcaino this summer.

Badgley has more experience, but Vizcaino has consistently displayed the more powerful leg. Staley has said kickoffs will factor significantly in the final evaluation, with Vizcaino’s leg strength an advantage.

Chase Daniel will start at quarterback and play the first half against the Seahawks before Easton Stick takes over for the second half.

Daniel, who is entering his 13th season, understands the importance of preseason games first-hand. He arrived in the NFL as a member of New Orleans’ practice squad after going undrafted in 2009.

“A lot of people say, ‘Hey, preseason doesn't matter,’ ” he said. “But it matters for a lot of these guys. That's how I made a roster. … And so it does mean a lot to these guys. I never want to get in a position, even 13 years in, where I'm not giving it my all for the other guys on the team.”

NFL teams have to reduce their rosters to 53 by 1 p.m. PDT Tuesday. After that, each team will assemble a practice squad of up to 16 players.

The Chargers open the season Sept. 12 at Washington.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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